How Does the Evolving K-12 ERP Marketplace Impact Your District?

DashBoard, Dec. 7, 2016

Submitted by Melissa Miller, Senior Manager, Plante Moran

The K-12 administrative system marketplace is continuously evolving. Acquisitions continue as vendors look to establish footholds in new markets, eliminate competition or acquire new technology platforms. Cloud computing and Software as a Service have gained mainstream acceptance. Options have increased for noncore Enterprise Resource Planning solutions like student assessments, Response to Intervention/Multitiered Systems of Support and applicant tracking. Many education ERP vendors have increased the focus on the mobile and collaborative aspects of their software while others have discontinued products. Vendors are introducing new features and functionality, including business intelligence, expanded electronic workflows and self-service portals.

Are you getting what you need from your ERP? Does it help your district run efficiently? Is it a trusted source of information? Can you use it to provide valuable analysis to determine areas that might need your attention? Here are five signs that your organization may want to consider a new ERP system.

1. Your software is no longer being supported or the company is no longer in business.

It’s time to move on when your provider: (1) no longer supports your version of ERP software, (2) is planning to end support for your product in the near future or (3) is exiting the ERP business. These situations are problematic for a number of reasons. You won’t be able to find consultants who understand or are willing to support the product. You won’t be able to receive updates or enhancements and, as a result, you likely won’t be compliant with new regulations or be able to install patches to address security concerns. And the product will never increase in capability—no matter what happens in the marketplace.

2. Your software is no longer meeting your needs.

Stop us when this sounds familiar. Your district uses a variety of disparate systems (time reporting, professional development, applicant tracking, budgeting, etc.) that fail to exchange information with one another; there’s no mobile interface, no electronic workflows and staff are using shadow systems like Excel spreadsheets to track items that should be recorded in the ERP system. Staff cannot create their own reports in the administrative system and waste valuable time reentering data and/or formatting data in Excel.

3. Your system is heavily customized, making regular maintenance difficult.

Oftentimes, districts customize their systems to accommodate their business practices. Modified systems are difficult to upgrade. Often, the unanticipated result is that districts customize themselves out of the ability to efficiently upgrade to newer product releases and fail to gain the benefits of ongoing product improvements.

4. Your hardware needs replacement.

If you’re looking at the cost of replacing hardware, it may make sense to evaluate an ERP system simultaneously. Concurrently, evaluate whether a cloud-based, hosted solution or SaaS model makes sense. We are seeing more and more districts investigate shared systems, frequently where an educational service agency hosts a financial, HR or student information system for local districts.

5. You need information more quickly.

If you want to make organizational decisions based on what’s happening now versus what happened last Tuesday, then it might be time to upgrade or replace your system.

Replacing your administrative system has a number of benefits, from better workflow and mobile technology interface to increased efficiency and new capabilities (such as using the cloud). Plante Moran’s information technology consulting team has assisted more than 200 public sector clients with this process. Whether you need a little assistance, or a lot, we can help. Just give us a call.

Melissa Miller is a Senior Manager of Plante Moran’s Management Consulting, and can be reached at or 248.223.3679. Plante Moran is one of the nation’s largest accounting, tax and consulting firms and offers comprehensive services to K-12 education clients. The K-12 team has worked with more than 200 school districts, ranging in size from 1,000 to over 100,000 students, and includes auditors, CPAs and consultants across multiple disciplines.

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

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