Grand Prairie Independent School District

Operational Inefficiencies–Eliminated by Progress partner, Skyward. 

Products:

OpenEdge

SS_Grand Prairie Independent School District

Challenge

To better serve the needs of its students.

Solution

The Progress® OpenEdge®-based Student Management Suite and the School Business Suite from Progress® Application Partner Skyward.

Result

Control information quadrupled in the first 30 days, report generation time spent to meet state requirements reduced from 16-32 hours to the click of a button, and GPISD expects a 100% ROI in 3-4 years.

Story

Challenge

The Grand Prairie Independent School District (GPISD) is the largest employer in Grand Prairie, TX, with approximately 3,063 employees, 25,500 students and 38 campuses, including 25 elementary schools, seven middle schools, two ninth-grade centers, two high schools and two alternative education schools. For over 25 years the organization relied on an AS400 Main Frame solution running a combination of DB2 and DB3 databases to manage both its business operations and student management processes. Two years ago the organization realized it needed to update its systems in order to run a more efficient business and, more importantly, better serve the needs of its students.

Because all of GPISD’s processing was done in batches employees were unable to access real-time data that was critical to helping the business move forward. Lyle DuBus, Executive Director of Instructional Delivery for GPISD explains: “I would get budget reports that were 60-90 days old, so we developed our own Access database product so I see real-time financial information. Essentially we had to work around the system rather than having it work for us.”

Without easy access to information, many processes were tedious and time-consuming, and most had to be performed manually. For example, to prepare for a third-party audit which was required by law, the business office would close down for 60-90 days to get ready because there was such a lag time associated with its systems and most of the information had to be obtained manually.

GPISD’s IT department spent a tremendous amount of time and effort just trying to keep the system up-to-date. “It lacked the flexibility we needed to serve the needs of our employees and students,” says DuBus. For example, in order to process data they had to close down the system every night around 10:00 pm. So anyone working late was unable to access the information they may need to do their jobs.

“It became painfully clear that our current system could no longer accommodate our needs,” says DuBus. “We required a modern, sophisticated technology that could provide us with 24/7 access to real-time information, the ability to integrate with our existing and future systems in order to streamline our processes, visibility across our entire organization, and the flexibility to meet our growing and changing needs.”

Solution

After evaluating all of its different options, GPISD chose Skyward’s Student Management Suite and School Business Suite. The Student Management Suite ensures students succeed by providing real-time, accurate, and reliable information through a  Web portal for easy access. The School Business Suite is a comprehensive, integrated finance and human resources solution that provides administrators, educators and staff with invaluable information at  their fingertips.

Both Skyward systems are built on the Progress OpenEdge integrated platform. Used in over 90% of Fortune 500 companies, OpenEdge is an industry leader in embedded databases. In a recent IDC study, OpenEdge was rated the #1 pure-play embedded database on the market, and Aberdeen Group and InfoStructure Association noted that OpenEdge administrative costs are 74% less than Oracle’s and 37% less than Microsoft’s. Today 5,000 distinct applications in over 60,000 organizations worldwide are developed with OpenEdge. And Progress Application Partners deploy their software at more than 10,000 new sites for 600,000 new users every year.

Result

Within just a few months of implementation, GPISD is already achieving substantial business results. “I feel like we have literally jumped 30 years into the future, like we are finally doing business in 2009 instead of being stuck in 1979.” Many of GPISD’s previous manual processes have now been automated, freeing up employees’ time and improving the accuracy of the processes. “I was in our purchasing office last week, and I noticed stacks of absence from duty forms that were being disposed of. With our new School Business Suite we have eliminated that form and that manual process—to me that is real change. We no longer need one person in the office dedicating hours to completing these forms. Instead the responsibility has been pushed out to our employees, who now submit their own forms via the system. That is certainly improving our productivity and freeing up resources to focus on higher priority tasks.”

Before using Skyward, GPISD was also managing the requisition process manually. DuBus explains: “We had one person dedicating at least one half of every day to filling out these requisition forms. Today the campuses are able to submit the purchase orders themselves. Just this one automated process alone is saving our business 20 work hours per week; that is phenomenal.”

With the ability to easily track and analyze information GPISD has also gained visibility and achieved greater control over its business. “Our visibility has been
dramatically improved and our control over our information has quadrupled in the last 30 days. It is a night-andday difference,” says DuBus. “From a decision-making standpoint we will now be able to better understand our spending and the success of our programs. For example, if we delegate funds for a specific program, we can later go back and track the success of that program and determine if there is a correlation between student improvement and the increase in funding. In our older system that type of information was not easy to come by.”

The system is also delivering benefits that GPISD did not anticipate. “Because our employees can spend less time on manual processes and quickly access the information they need to do their jobs, I think we will also see an increase in job satisfaction because people will be able to dedicate their time to more interesting projects and to helping the kids. I think over time this will also result in a reduction in our costs.”

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