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Case Study

ERP software solution for 21-district-consortium

December 20, 2016 / 3 min read

21-district-consortim of K-12 schools is unified following in-depth ERP system selection and implementation, which provides improvements on data collection and regulatory reporting.

The client

Oakland Schools is the intermediate school district (ISD) serving Oakland County, Michigan consisting of 28 local districts plus the ISD. A consortium of 21 districts was formed in search of a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution. The consortium supports over 117,000 students. 

The challenge

The consortium was in search of a better way to handle payroll, HR, and financial functions for its school districts. Each member district had its own complex and sophisticated requirements to support their business processes and the consortium envisioned standardized business processes that would allow for implementation of best practices and facilitate sharing of knowledge and resources. Work began to identify an ERP software solution that best met the needs of all members. Additionally, subject matter experts from each district collaborated to identify best practices that could be implemented with the selected ERP solution. 

The solution

Our K12 IT consultants were engaged to help the consortium determine the key elements of the project. Our experts led activities within the consortium to identify and document best practice business processes for all functional areas within the scope of the project, while at the same time conducting a rigorous needs assessment to identify the required functionality from an ERP solution. We also worked with consortium leadership to develop an intergovernmental agreement that would serve as the model throughout the implementation effort. 
Next, we then led the consortium through a system selection. We helped weigh all options, identify a preferred vendor and ERP solution, establish an appropriate budget, and negotiate a contract to protect the consortium’s interests. After the contract finalization, we assisted a phased implementation of the selected ERP solution. Our experts developed and engaged a pilot steering committee, which included a representative from each district, upper management, representation from the vendor team, and our experts. This steering committee performed the project management function and detail tracking to keep the implementation on track. 
The final vendor was selected for phase 1 of the implementation to a total of six districts, with Oakland Schools handling the implementation to the remaining districts. Our experts also provided an implementation assessment after phase 1 of the implementation, including focus group feedback and survey data. This allowed Oakland Schools to pin point training and development improvements for future implementations.
In addition to the implementation, Oakland Schools took responsibility for all future technical support for the software. To help make this transition seamless, our experts worked closely with the district content experts, business officials, HR managers, HR directors, payroll specialists, and management to build a book of standards full of best practices. The implementation of these best practices, in conjunction with standardized ERP system configuration, has facilitated greater collaboration and sharing of knowledge and resources throughout the consortium. 

The benefit

The rigorous implementation deadlines were met and the districts of Oakland Schools are enjoying vast improvements to their reporting functions. Data is being captured in new ways, old product integration restrictions have been resolved, and manual processes have been eliminated. Regulatory reporting for both finance and HR are vastly improved across all districts. The switch from a centralized purchasing approach to a decentralized approach, has reduced the amount spent on procurement, and improved efficiency. Additionally, the new reporting structure allows management to drill down into relevant data to make actionable insights. If data is captured, they can report on it. The districts’ staff have benefited from the new employee self-service model across the county, which allows them to streamline inter-office policies and interactions with HR.

“I can’t say enough good things about the team, they are incredible to work with, and they are very diligent and very detailed. I have worked with a ton of consultants, and what I appreciated most was that Plante Moran never acted like outside consultants. They truly became part of our family, and they took ownership and felt a great deal of responsibility for successful outcomes along with us. I knew we weren’t alone, we were truly partners.”
 — TAMMY EVANS, Assistant Superintendent and Chief Information Officer for Oakland Schools

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