Blackbaud K-12 Solution - We are ON our 3rd year
November 19, 2018
Blackbaud K-12 Solution - We are ON our 3rd year
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Blackbaud K-12 “ON” Solutions
We use K-12 ON across all divisions as our SIS and LMS. Our development office uses Raiser's Edge and our business office just moved to Smart Tuition.
- The external interface with students and parents is excellent. Pretty intuitive and well designed.
- The support staff is EXCEPTIONAL!
- The emerging enhancements are responsive to users' requests and adding some helpful features to the system
- Implementation and training did not go as smoothly as one would expect or desire. I recognize if there are 10 schools, 10 things will be done 10 different ways; however, there are fundamental underpinnings that need to be understood to make the transition into the product easier.
- ON Products are "new" to Blackbaud. Whipplehill had the interface. Blackbaud had the database. The development team - who are great - are busting a tail cleaning up the back-end of the ON system so it can be as versatile as Education Edge was. ON Products keep the teachers, students, and parents happy with its easy interface. The number crunchers and data people loved the accessibility of the data in Education Edge. When these two things are completely reconciled, the product will be awesome.
- Synching between On and Raiser's edge is neither easy nor fun. Be sure everyone knows what their bone is - what must they have so this software helps them with their jobs and be sure it does it.
- Positive - we have Pre-K 3 through 12 in one SIS and LMS. As teachers are settling in to the new system, they are finding the benefit of building their class bulletin boards and topics and using the system to augment in-class instruction. They are discovering that importing from their previous years' pages increases continuity and enables them to refine their units.
- Negative - I am still trying to fine tune the set up 3 years later. There is a ton to manage in terms of settings, how tab A fitting into slot A impacts tab D fitting into slot D can often be a hit-or-miss experience which requires you to double back and re-tweek things. I can easily see managing the "system" to maximize its useability and effectiveness being a full time job.
- Positive - The Resource Board give all constituents a one-stop shop for all pertinent school information. As constituents have become familiar with this usefulness of this page, I feel I receive fewer calls.
- Operational efficiency
- Improved insights
- Improved internal and external communications
- Reduced IT expenditure due to cloud deployment
- A connected school solution
In terms of operational efficiency, yes and no. I believe the end users are able to be more efficient and are having a better experience, but I believe maintaining the back-end is taking much more time compared to Education Edge. As for the insights, we are getting there as Blackbaud deploys more Smart Lists and Insights filters. I feel there has been little change in our internal communications, but externally I think we have improved. Having the ON products in the cloud has definitely saved money in terms of server maintenance and wear and tear on our IT staff. The "connected school solution" is not seamless. IT believes they have sorted out the majority of the issues we were experiencing, but the process still requires daily attention. After updates are released, synching needs to be checked carefully to be sure everything is still working as desired and intended.
Blackbaud is NOT a one database solution. Accordingly, for all of your data to be up-to-date, the databases must be synched. It took our IT department quite a while to have our sync set up so that it worked as desired. Some of this may have had to do with with the "newness" of the products; however, efficient and correct synching is essential for data to remain clean. In the beginning, we often found that data would be incorrectly updated in one of the databases after a sync. Pushing certain fields from ON into RE had unintended consequences in RE. Our development staff still regularly checks sync results and needs to tweak some results.
Blackbaud's support team is awesome. Though I never want to have to call support, I actually love calling these people. They are supportive, encouraging, patient, and will research solutions to your issues. Though I am not always satisfied with the result of my support inquiry - the system does not have that capability at this time, you need to use this work around - I have always been extremely pleased with the professionalism and understanding the support staff has given me.
All of the pieces are there, onBoard just requires some fine tuning to make it even more useful. Things like data polishing, notification when candidates make updates, online recommendation forms, and like seem like small issues but can impact the time admissions staff need to manage data instead of working with families.
Good and getting better. I appreciate the attention the Blackbaud development gives to ideas suggested by the community, There are still some larger and smaller issues that the product needs to address. One of the larger issues that has raised concern is the system timing out while a student is taking an extended assessment and losing work. I have heard progress has been made in this area, and we will see as we head in exams this fall. Smaller issues have to do with personal preferences that may make teachers' and students' lives easier (this is why we use technology after all) and making access to data easier.
This is where I spend most of time. Once again, a good product but it has a way to go to realize its potential. I will say the enhancements that have been released over the past three years have greatly improved many of my early frustrations. Being the data guy, I was extremely frustrated with how difficult it was to get the data I needed out of this system in the beginning. With the advent of Smart Lists, it is getting better but it is still a long way off from the exceptional query function in EE. Their new Insights analytic feature will be a great help as soon as it is fully integrated with Academics and more filters are available. Insights would also benefit from better documentation - as would all of the ON modules. The summer of 2018 Blackbaud completely overhauled the navigation system in the ON products which has made many tasks much easier. There are still some basic things that Academics is missing - such as being able to print a student's schedule and integrating the main calendar onto a student's or faculty member's myDay screen, but once again, the development team is watching the ideas posted by the community and working them into enhancements as they are able.
Fairly easy to use once you have learned the system, but it lacks flexibility and is no really mobile friendly. Would like to be able to be more creative with the output.