The case study of American Senior High School in Miami, Florida is also the beginning of the story of SchoolBanks.
David Greene, CEO of SchoolBanks, was hired by American Senior High School, his alma mater, in the Academy of Information Technology (AOIT) Department. David studied Computer Science at the University of Miami (FL) and Youngstown State University before being employed by Miami-Dade Public Schools. One day, David noticed the school’s treasurer struggling to report all the financial obligations. His computer science mind intuitively began asking questions.
What American High did not know was that they had just employed someone that would help them find a lasting solution to some of the financial management problems. This was the beginning of version 1.0 of SchoolBanks. Only wanting to help his friend, American High became SchoolBanks’ first customer. David had the solution towards the improvement of its current processes through his technology improvements.
American High had an array of problems collectively related to a lack of financial tracking and reporting tools. Moreover, they didn’t have a centralized system to harmonize all its records. They had to depend on paperwork which somehow failed in terms of accuracy, timeliness, and uniformity among its departments for many years.
This problem could be traced to its root cause, which happens to be common among all organizations that still use paper processes or software solutions that are not aligned to their specific organizational needs. As such, they have overextended their employees unnecessarily by making them dependent on others to successfully do their work. This over-dependence/over-reliance on others made the school struggle with late turn-ins on fees and other obligations. The end of the year reporting for seniors would turn into a literal nightmare for the treasurer. The internal effects were even more dire; lack of effectiveness in tracking and reporting finances, job insecurity among employees, frustration among teachers coupled by relationship conflicts, and a feeling of irresponsibility among the leaders mostly departmental heads and the top management.
The problem had been deeply rooted in the institution and somewhat the belief by the management that they lacked the ability to offer a lasting solution was even more detrimental. There is always a way out and, in this case, it was wrong for the already underfunded and understaffed school to give teachers yet another time-consuming responsibility. Worse still is that they overburdened a single bookkeeper with the management of 2000+ students’ fees with just a spreadsheet or free form database. However, there was leverage if the school was committed to monitoring its employees and ensuring they do their job well, this way, the process would run smoothly with the help of the District. There was an appropriate software for this because we are in the 21st century where paperwork has been improved by new technology.
American High began by redesigning its access database previously used to record the paper slips from teachers; this didn’t work either because there was only one file to capture all the records from all teachers. It was more difficult to access it, let alone entering the records. The technology and ideas were good but not appropriate for this situation. Again, as they worked to leverage a solution that was semi-provided by the District, the same issue came up; the solution couldn’t fit the specific needs of the school, forcing them to make concessions and subsequently introduce additional workflows with the aim of producing a similar impact that SchoolBanks could.
David perfectly understood the struggles by schools because he had worked with most of them over his career and for American High, it was a matter of empowerment for them to meet their needs and those of their students. During his career, he learned the art of proper bookkeeping strategies from highly respected bookkeepers. He already observed the processes and procedures at first hand; therefore, he could apply them to the case of American High.
Years of working with one of the highly respected bookkeepers in MDCPS allowed David to see the processes and procedures that treasurers go through first hand. From working Yearbook sales, to computer room inventory, to football equipment purchases, he followed those processes and procedures and fine tuned them where possible. The goal was that all employees and departments channeled their records to one central system for overall analysis.
The implementation followed a streamlined process allowing David to understand the problems, develop a problem-solving methodology, layer the methodology with technology, and involve other potential and power users for possible successful adoption. Finally, he created a follow-up plan to ensure its success through email and phone communication with users.
Success of Treatment Plan
To monitor the success of the treatment plan, he needed to monitor the behavior of colleagues, identify the unfavorable behaviors and remove them. This way, the bookkeeper was able to realize success. Upon reducing the unfavorable behaviors, for example, laxity towards reporting performance, the bookkeeper reduced the workload of the school’s leadership.
Failure to Treat
The worst-case scenario if the treatment plan could have not been implemented was the possibility of increased workload for all parties. As demand for education increases, the ability to maintain records reduces as student fees and obligations increase. Moreover, there could be no reduction in timely payments creating a direct impact on the school’s budget.
Financial obligation tracking becomes more complicated over time as schools become more overcrowded. With the growing necessity for virtual education and schools lending out more equipment to take home than ever before, it’s going to become more critical to organize financial obligations. The best strategy to prevent this is the use of a software like SchoolBanks that is capable of minimizing those complications and adapting to the growing technology needs for efficiency.