The Fall User Group Scoop Lauren Gilchrist by Lauren Gilchrist Lauren Gilchrist Semi-Pro Photo Booth Operator Read time: Another fall user group season has come and (almost) gone. We hope you got a chance to attend your state’s event. If not, next year sounds like a winner too. User groups are a great way to network with other Skyward users and learn to get the most from your technology. Conference attendees learned a lot and had some fun! For those of you who didn’t make it this time around, here’s a recap of what you missed: Qmlativ Updates Transition status: Since our first implementation in 2014, we now have 57 districts using both the student and business software, 29 districts using the student side, and 40 districts using the business side. Driving factors behind Qmlativ: We dove into some of the major considerations that influenced our creation of Qmlativ, such as the change we saw in the way school districts are using data. We wanted to develop a solution to better match these needs. We also wanted to revamp the user experience and incorporate intelligent support tools. (Learn more about our artificial intelligence help center!) The ability to go mobile with everything was also a driving force—we envisioned a solution that would be as capable on the bus or the playground as it would be in your office. Key features of Qmlativ: Attendees got a first-hand look at some of the highlights of the new platform, like its simplified workflow processes, various customization options, and versatile reporting tools. Design based on customer input: Did you know that we have a team of user experience (UX) professionals to ensure Qmlativ would not only meet your needs functionally, but would also be an intuitive, enjoyable experience for everyone who uses it? Attendees got to learn more about our user-centered design approach. You can too by watching this video: SMS 2.0: The Road Ahead We shared our roadmap for the future of our SMS 2.0 platform as well. Here are a few things you can look forward to. In the Student Management Suite, we are… Working to integrate standards-based grading functionality into the LMS API. Making workflows within the system more efficient. Enhancing our mobile app, with plans to include GPA and class rank information, a parent-teacher conference scheduler, and food service payments. In the School Business Suite, we are… Adding a feature that will link fixed assets to employees. Improving budgetary data mining reports and the Task Manager. Adding the ability to transfer FastTrack attachments directly to Employee Profile records. Enhancing the mobile app, with plans to include expense reimbursement attachments and time sheet submissions. Today's Biggest Challenges Through our ongoing dialogues with district leaders, we’ve gained a clear understanding of the challenges you face. Since so many Skyward users are together at user groups, we’ve found this is a great time to address some of the ways we can help you overcome these hurdles. Here’s a look at several we talked about this year: Parent Engagement The stats Only 20% of U.S. parents are fully engaged with their child’s schools. Fewer than 25% of parents can name a basic milestone their child should have reached in school the previous year. The solutions Gradebook Tracker: Administrators can monitor parent engagement by class and keep tabs on what’s going on in the classroom. Message Center: Using the Message Center is a quick and easy way to communicate with parents and boost parent involvement. Research shows that weekly tailored messages to parents result in improved attendance and reduced student dropout rates by a staggering 41%. Push notifications: Mobile notifications make it easy to keep everyone in the loop—parents don’t even have to log in when details about their children’s progress are delivered directly to their phones. Family Access: Our parent portal continues to be the communications hub for many districts. Plus, we built the Family Access Toolkit, a library of resources containing everything everyone needs—administrators, teachers, parents, and students—to use it to its full potential. Onboarding The stats The cost of an employee leaving your district is about 38% of his or her salary. 23% of employees leave due to a lack of development and training. The solutions FastTrack: Thanks to automated applications and communication, you'll enjoy reduced hiring turnaround times so you won’t miss out on the best candidates. FastTrack also improves the onboarding process, which in turn improves employee retention. Task Manager: Eliminate bottlenecks and keep the wheels in your district rolling by using the Task Manager. When employees log in, they’ll see a list of the tasks assigned to them for the day in order of priority. They can click on a summary and follow the steps, then send the task up the approval chain. Employee Access and Online Forms: Cut out the HR middleman and make paperless the new normal. You can improve communication, save on postage and time, and give your team an overall better experience. Professional Development Center: The PDC is a self-paced, multimedia training system that brings new employees up to speed, provides advanced training, and delivers ongoing professional development for experienced staff members looking to level up. Improving Employee Accountability The stats Organizations without an automated time and attendance system overpay their employees by an average of 1.2% annually. For a district of 3,000 students, that’s $150,000 a year. Plus, your district can face up to $2,000 in ACA penalties per employee if you don’t offer the appropriate coverage. The solution True Time: Punching in and out with True Time helps ensure staff are paid accurately. This real-time information is automatically imported to payroll. Having these hours on record can protect your district from substantial fines. Sample of Sessions What kinds of sessions can you expect to find at a user group? Here’s a sample of the ones offered this fall: New Features HR Data Mining Using FastTrack to Post Positions Online Vendor Profile Tips and Tricks Business Suite Roundtable Discussions Affordable Care Act Gradebook Features Family Access Tips and Tricks All About Security Future Scheduling Information and Best Practices Roundtable Health Records State Reporting Processing Have a request for a session or track not seen here? Let your state steering committee know! Check out our user groups page to find out when your state’s next conference is. We look forward to seeing you there! Lauren Gilchrist Semi-Pro Photo Booth Operator Share this story: Want tips, tricks, and feature updates delivered to your inbox once a month? Sign up here!