K-12 Districts Turn to the Cloud for Back-Office modernization

"We no longer wanted to be in the business of owning and maintaining our own data centers. We want to be in the business of educating."

Project Manager of ERP and SIS,
K-12 School District

This district isn’t alone. Increasingly, districts across the country are turning to cloud solutions to modernize their back-office processes. Cloud solutions can create tremendous efficiencies that free up time, money, infrastructure and other resources so districts can focus on providing a world-class education to students. Crucial to the success of these back-office transformations is the involvement of a trusted cloud implementation firm like CherryRoad Technologies, an Oracle platinum-level consulting partner with 35 years of experience in modernizing, optimizing and managing complex back-office processes and technologies for school districts, higher education institutions, and state and local organizations.

REDUCING TCO AND IMPROVING BUSINESS PROCESSES

The client, who is the subject of this case study serves 60,000+ K-12 students. Over the years, it has run its legacy data center and back-office applications on-premises, meaning it had to invest in and maintain the data center, upgrade it as needed, manage disaster recovery and more. When it came time to modernize the backoffice, the district considered, and then rejected, an on-premise solution. Technology had gotten in the way of servicing the users. Instead, the district opted to move to a cloud-based Oracle solution, supported by CherryRoad, that provides a wide range of business capabilities while enabling unified visibility and control.

"We have 8,000 employees and are changing virtually every process in the district” shares a District representative “Cherry-Road’s change management experts understand the complexity of the transition and the emotions associated with that. They have been great at educating change agents at every school."

NAVIGATING CHANGE THE EASY WAY

Back-office modernization can be a huge undertaking. Many school districts find the complexity and sheer scope of such a change requires the assistance of a consulting firm with demonstrated expertise. Our client chose CherryRoad to support them in their transformation after being impressed with its cloud-oriented methodology, processes and training; its full range of services; and its long-term support. CherryRoad has worked with numerous K-12 districts for more than 25 years and has been recognized as Oracle’s Public Sector Innovation Partner of the Year. By working with the right partner and using cloud-based solutions, districts of any size can catapult their back-office organizations into the 21st century and position themselves for the future.

“We carefully considered the total cost of ownership (TCO),” shared the project manager who oversees the district’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) and student information system (SIS) implementations. “We looked at a five-year model for TCO. The upfront cost of an implementation of this size, with world-class software like Oracle’s, is sizable, but it was important to do it right to position the district for the long run.”

The district found it could save money overall by transferring data center costs (e.g., personnel, maintenance, power, cooling, and rack and floor space) to the cloud vendor instead of operating infrastructure in house. Another decisive factor was Oracle’s Platinum Partner CherryRoad and its implementation methodology.

“With CherryRoad’s methodology, we liked the idea that we would have a prototype early, that we would get our hands dirty early, and that the process would be iterative. The other reason we selected CherryRoad was due to its public sector experience.”

USING THE SOLUTION, THIS K-12 SCHOOL DISTRICT EXPECTS TO:

  • Secure data access so district leaders and staff can make informed decisions regardless of their location or device
  • Support data-driven decision-making
  • Implement employee self-service (change contact information in benefits and payroll applications)
  • Standardize purchasing and other business processes
  • Eliminate duplicate data entry for purchase orders, payroll and other processes
  • Obtain a single, consistent version of the truth
  • Streamline workflows for grants, projects, budgets and other processes that have historically been paper-based

THE FOLLOWING BEST PRACTICES WILL FURTHER SET UP DISTRICTS FOR SUCCESS:

  • Define business processes. Knowing how and why departments do things will help a district identify opportunities for improvement and lay the ground work for drafting an RFP.
  • Identify staffing needs early. Determine needs for the project (business leads as well as technical leads) and identify their current responsibilities and how their roles will be filled while they are on the project.
  • Include business SMEs. Identify subject matter experts (SMEs) in the departments where business processes occur and involve them in the project so they understand what they’re getting and can champion the project with other faculty and staff.
  • Seek budgeting help. Modernization requires a long-term financial plan. The Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS), the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) and other organizations can supply guidance on how to sustain projects over time.
  • Address data protection. Be prepared to show how sensitive data will be protected and how the district will comply with government regulations related to financial information, health care records, student privacy and more.

“Cloud applications allow K-12 organizations to bring accountability and modern ERP practices to the back office, letting schools get back to their core mission of education.” said Tom Heldt, CherryRoad, Executive Vice President, “A cloud-based system promotes consistency, security and productivity by ensuring every office in the district is working with the most current software and with constantly improved functionality .”

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