Purchasing and Implementing a Student Mangament System at JCSS
Jefferson County School System has purchased a new System for Student Management and just like any new technology it takes time to adjust. But there were quite a few issues in the implementation process that could have been avoided. I will explain what went well in the implementation process of Jefferson County School System. I will examine the complaints as well as complications with the system and explain what should have been done better. And lastly I will point out what could have been done to improve the results of the implementation process.
Background Jefferson County School System (JCSST) is a school system that educates about 10,000 students in 18 different schools, consisting of fourteen elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools. In 1970 administrative computing had begun for doing student scheduling, grade reporting and keeping record of student enrollment. In 1976 the school corporation purchased a DEC PDP 11/34 computer, and the student management applications were converted from the university computer. During the next few years, financial applications were added and more student management applications were developed.
Purchasing and Implementing a Student Mangament System at JCSS Essay Example
As the years went by and Technology changed, JCSS has been keeping up. Now they have four Dell servers operating under UNIX and PC’s and Pc’s in all JCSS locations are connected to the system via a high-speed TCP/IP network. Now the newly hired superintendent Dr. Henry Greene and a small task force of Administrators decided that JCSS systems should be replaced with purchased software and it should utilize and integrate database and report-generation software. This task force also suggested that the programming staff of the data processing department would no longer be needed if these recommendations are accomplished.
Discussion Everything started off well, a task force of administrators was established and a task of selecting a vendor to provide the hardware and software to replace the current administrative computing applications at JCSS went good. By late March, the new DP Director and her committee had prepared and sent out a 71 page RFP to 23 possible vendors with proposals being submitted by May 4. The RFP stated that “The proposals will be evaluated on functional requirements, support services, and a 5-year life cycle cost.
” This RFP was sent to vendors that would contract to accept responsibility for all the software, support and training services required to install and maintain the new system. After the DP Director evaluated the responses that were submitted, she chose three serious contenders. These contenders were invited to demonstrate their system to the committee. However, the vendors were not told in detail what to show except that they show the major systems. This was mistake number one. I would have wanted these vendors to demonstrate to me what I needed to my specific details.
Second, instead of visiting a School that already use a similar system, the committee only visited two sites. And this was because of time and money constraints. The DP Director and the Assistant Principle spent one day at these locations observing the systems and the committee members made calls to others that use the vendors to get their feedback on the systems. Another mistake, what they need the systems for may not be the same as what I need the system for. No matter how they did it, everybody was satisfied with the systems.
After a difficult decision the committee selected DSI, even though neither of the vendors systems did exactly what they wanted it to do. Right here I could say that was another mistake but I think just like when you learning how to cook something new, it takes a few times of making it before you get it just the way you want it. You have to figure out how to use the program the way it needs to be used. This is where we go into our next phase, implementation. In December the DSI people helped implement the new system. And as soon as the systems got purchased and put into play at JCSS, the complications started.
The first problem was with the financial systems. Most was converted to the new system but the real major problem was installing and using the student management systems. The DP Director planned to follow the cycle of the academic year when implementing the student systems. First, they would transfer all the student demographic information from the present system to the new system’s database. Then they would complete the students’ fall class schedules by the end of the spring semester, as they had been doing with the old system, so that the students’ schedules would be on the new system and ready to go in the fall.
During the summer they would pick up the attendance accounting on the new system so it would be ready for the fall. Then they would implement grade reporting so it would be ready for use at the end of the first six-week grading period in the fall. Finally, they would convert the student transcript information from the old system so that fall semester grades could be transferred to the transcripts at the end of the semester. The transferring of the student’s demographic information was a success, but the scheduling was a disaster.
I believe this came from a lack of training or should I say the lack of time that was not taken out for the training. DSI was willing to train any and all employees; however, the employees did not take the allotted time to get the training. I think all involved individuals should have made time to get this training. The summer break was a great time to get this completed but if they were not on the payroll, they were not there for training. Fortunately, Paul Faris, the scheduling officer at Roosevelt, was working summer school, and with his assistance they were just able to get all the schedules done two weeks before school started.
For preparation for the upcoming fall year, the secretaries and the counselors should have been paid to come to training over the summer. When things started failing a group of names should have been written down so that these could be trained in whatever areas that needed to be improved. This would have helped the process move along more smoothly. It is already over whelming when learning something new in the IT world, but to learn it without the proper training is foolish.
The real problem was not the vendor that was chosen, it was the lack of user training and there was no user manual available for employees. DSI offered JCSS everything they asked for; they were on time when needed for trouble shooting as well as for training the employees. And remember it was the committee that said they could work well with them (with DSI). Looking back, JCSS chose the right vendor, but without detailed definition of what the system needed, and without the proper training, money constraints and a plan for the project, the system would surely fail.