Denver Public Schools (DPS) has nearly 14,000 employees-just about as many as IKEA does in the US or Facebook does in total. DPS is among the 50 largest school districts in the country (and growing) with almost 200 schools and offices and an annual budget of more than $900 million.
Within DPS is the Business Information Systems (BIS) group, an organization which provides support of Financial and HR systems at the district. Like most large school districts, BIS spends a considerable amount of time investing in internal systems and technologies designed to automate manual work and increase efficiency for its customers, track compliance, and provide a consistent set of processes to form the foundation of operations at the District.
Not too long ago, BIS relied on a combination of Google spreadsheets, Google slides, and Google forms to manage project requests and resources. They didn’t even have a central document tracking system.
And according to Lynne Ly, the Business Information Systems program manager at DPS, even the Google product suite was an improvement from a few years earlier when project requests were tracked on a list as “to dos” and IT requests were tracked by e-mail and SharePoint.
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BIS has a 5-year road map outlining how they want their systems to support and enable academics. Without a global way to view and manage the entire technology backbone, implementing and supporting that vision was a major challenge.
“Before, it was difficult for us to manage data, difficult for our senior managers to see and understand what BIS and business departments were doing, and to know what resources were needed and how those could be effectively allocated,” explained Ly.
Not having a proper IT service management platform and business processes made it difficult to prioritize project requests and allocate resources to projects and service requests that provide the highest value to customers.
“Because we were so challenged with our project data, we were spending a lot of time planning and refining project lists and communications” she said. “I was spending 30 percent of my time managing the portfolio from spreadsheets and extracting data from the spreadsheet to create reports for senior management. Now I spend less than 10 percent of my time doing that.”
(Next page: Improving IT maturity; system consolidation; and data-driven decisions)