With its human resources system being sunsetted, Caroline County Public Schools, Md., launched a search for a new financial and human resources system. The small school district, with a lean staff of just over 800 professionals, selected SunGard K-12 Education’s eFinancePLUS and is now leveraging the software to improve its business operations and efficiency.
In a recent success story, Suzanne Jones, Caroline County’s MIS coordinator, offers four best practices for making the most of your software investment:
Understand Your Needs, Expectations
Jones emphasizes that a thorough understanding of the functionality of your current software and your needs is key to success. “Particularly for small districts, choosing an administrative system is like shopping for a car,” she explains. “We knew what we already had. We knew what enhancements we needed, which our current software couldn’t provide. And, we required and expected dependability 100 percent of the time.”
Caroline County also sought flexible system that applied best practices. In addition, the staff wanted to partner with a vendor that provides excellent service before, during, and after implementation.
During the product review phase, Jones advises districts to be prepared to ask questions. “When you’re considering a new financial system, I think you really need to understand your business practices and ask how the vendor would handle your unique situations,” she says.
Jones also suggests that, since a single software solution can’t do everything for everybody, districts should choose a vendor that can “partner with key solutions providers. With seamless integrations these solutions will behave like a single solution.”
Consider Your Business Processes
In order to make the most of your investment, Jones recommends looking at the implementation period as a time to review and enhance the efficiency of your business processes.
“Some districts have so much that is customized for their individual wants and needs that the off-the-shelf products can’t even answer up to their RFPs,” she says. “Over the years, so many customs have been added to their systems that they’ve priced themselves out of finding software that can really meet their needs.
“The better prepared you are and the more that you’ve talked among your own staff and understand the nuances of your account code structure, budgets, approval process, and all the things that are so important, the more confident that you will be in your selection,” she says. “Review your business practices and know that, even though you’ve always done it that way, you now can consider change for the sake of improvement.”
Make the Most of the Investment
In order to make the most of your investment, Jones recommends that districts “jump right into planning” for implementation. “You’ve got to take on this task with determination and block out whatever time it takes to do the pre-implementation work you’ve got to do,” she says. “As soon as we could get the password, we logged into the customer site and started using it regularly.”
To read more about Caroline County’s story of success, CLICK HERE.