Pennsylvania School District Implements New SIS to Increase Employee Engagement

Kennett Consolidated School District
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Case Studies > Pennsylvania School District Implements New SIS to Increase Employee Engagement

When it’s time to make a change in edtech, districts have the option of staying with the same provider and upgrading or searching for a new solution and going through a complete overhaul.

For Kennett Consolidated School District in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, staying with their trusted SIS provider when the time came to upgrade was essential to ensure smooth training, buy-in from employees, and great customer service. Tom Ryan, systems administrator at the district, oversaw much of this district-wide change and provided great insight and inspiration during the process.
New product, same company
Kennett had been using Skyward’s SMS 2.0 product as their SIS since 2014. Although the district enjoyed the product, Ryan and his team noticed that employees weren’t utilizing it to its maximum potential.

“We saw our users getting increasingly disengaged when using the SIS,” said Ryan. “They would use it for various administrative purposes, but lesser used areas weren’t being explored much. It started to turn more into an office tool, which we knew wasn’t all it could be.”

In an effort to reengage employees, Kennett looked to Skyward’s newest product, Qmlativ. For Kennett, this idea of implementing a new system but staying with the familiar partner, Skyward, was important.

“There are so many things that we love about Skyward that we weren’t willing to let go of,” said Ryan.

"“We knew that by moving to Qmlativ, the Skyward perks would stay the same, such as the great customer service. When you switch to a brand new company, you’re taking a huge gamble in losing all of that.”"

Moving the entire district to Qmlativ at once would also solve another issue the district was facing: training.
“When we started with SMS 2.0, everyone trained at the same time, which was great,” said Ryan. “As turnover occurred, current employees would have to train new employees, leading to some gaps. We figured that since we would likely need to retrain everyone to fill those gaps, we may as well do it with a brand new system.”

Once the decision was made to switch to Qmlativ, Kennett went to work preparing their staff for the transition.  
Employee feedback and training
To make the transition to Qmlativ easier for Kennett staff, Ryan made sure to address any concerns they may have had in advance.

“I sent out a survey to users asking what they were frustrated with in SMS 2.0, and based off those answers provided how Qmlativ would address them,” said Ryan. “I think it’s important that even if you don’t have say in a situation, being heard still matters. In general, I think that the staff really trusted the decision that we were making, and we got less pushback than we thought we would.”

For Ryan and his team, working with Skyward for the migration went well.

"“Since we were familiar with the Skyward team, we found that going from SMS 2.0 to Qmlativ was a lot smoother than going anywhere else,” said Ryan. “They gave clear, concise steps to take before and during the process, which helped us a lot.”"

When it came to training staff on Qmlativ, Ryan shared resources and made himself available.
“We used the Professional Development Center [PDC] a lot, which allowed for  self-paced training,” said Ryan. “For those employees who wanted 1:1 help, I held office hours. I believe it’s important to support your users wherever possible, so that was my main goal.”

In the end, the familiarity with Skyward helped Kennett learn the many features Qmlativ offers quickly.
Greatest benefits
When Kennett was first looking at Qmlativ, they were most excited about the documentation, video trainings, clean and modern interface, and customization options. After implementing Qmlativ, they were pleased to see that those features became some of their favorites.

“We noticed that the documentation came a long way from what we had with SMS 2.0,” said Ryan. “We are now able to customize directions for tasks based on roles in a way that’s easier to understand and saves time. We can do the same with video training. For example, students may only need a two-minute video on how to do something, while teachers need a longer explanation for their side of the task.”

The interface and customization that Qmlativ offers also helps save the district and Ryan valuable time.
“I am able to update and access information much quicker,” said Ryan. “Qmlativ’s advanced filtering allows me to update specific data much more readily.

If there is something that Ryan needs help with in Qmlativ, he knows he can always turn to Skyward for great customer service.

“Skyward’s customer support is truly one of the best I’ve worked with, which really separates Skyward from other companies,” said Ryan. “I manage a lot of systems, and the knowledge that everybody I work with at Skyward is incredible. I can usually get answers from level one of tech support, and they really can dig in on my problem and dive deep, and that’s not common in my experience with a lot of other companies.”
Moving forward with Qmlativ
In the future, Kennett looks forward to using Qmlativ to continue and increase employee engagement within their SIS. Eventually, they would love to increase parent engagement as well.

“We know how critical parent involvement is to student success, so we really want to pitch the parent portal to our parents,” said Ryan. “We have had some early success, but we plan on tracking our user access data to figure out where the gaps are.”

Eventually, Ryan also wants to see other data from outside systems brought into Qmlativ.
“Right now we use outside systems for some data, which is an unnecessary additional cost,” said Ryan. “The positive thing is that Qmlativ has the option to bring that data in if/when we are ready.”

For other districts thinking about switching to Qmlativ, Ryan suggests thinking of the positives.

“Sometimes with a new product, you might lose a feature that you really liked with the old product,” said Ryan. “People tend to notice more when they lose a feature vs when they gain one, however, I really think that it’s important to think about all that you’re gaining, which is abundant with Qmlativ.”

Skyward and Kennett Consolidated School District look forward to growing together for many years to come.

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