The market was fairly narrow for us. There weren’t many solutions offering both a flexible web CMS that we could evolve over time, but still offer the level of integration to our existing systems that we required. For example, products that integrate into Synergetic didn’t offer the freedom of having as much design, layout and styling input, or the ability to change these elements quickly without breaking our integrations in the process. Having local, Australian based product and support was also really important for us.
Once we decided on Elcom, they looked at our existing systems and processes, and mapped 15-20 key components through to the new portal including fee payments. Elcom was flexible in their arrangement with us. We commissioned a design agency who created our branding guidelines to supply the design component, with Elcom involved in the design concept at the end. This approach worked well and when we went live, the portal met our exact requirements.
It’s an intuitive portal; the top navigation menu is designed to reflect the traditional school handbook content, while the left hand menu is interactive and consists of information specific to the user. This layout has helped parents, students and staff learn to use the portal quickly.
We’re continually improving how we utilise the forms and workflows feature. We’ve built an extensive automated professional development process. For example, if I wanted to attend a conference, I would complete a form and it would go to my manager for approval. If approved, it would go through the organisation approval processes, ending up with the HR team being notified to book what was needed. I would then receive a confirmation with the details. Now we’re building a workflow process to onboard parent volunteers. This will involve several steps including completing a children’s check, booking and completing WHS induction training, and agreeing to a code of conduct.
For us, integration with Synergetic was a massive factor. Elcom connects to Synergetic, taking our current community members and creating accounts for them automatically. Also, through the single sign-on process, users can login into the portal without having to manually create credentials. We pull through a lot of information from Synergetic including absences, timetables, reports, student details and payment details, which is presented reliably and in real-time in a user-friendly way on the portal.
We also do integrations with our Active Directory, calendaring system, payment gateway and Canvas LMS. We received feedback from parents that Canvas was a complicated system to try and work through if you just want to quickly find what mark your son got for a specific assessment or other summary information, because there’s so many places you can click. This integration lets us pull recent course feedback, tasks coming up, to do lists, grades and reports for each child, into the portal. For example, when students get their half yearly reports, it gets published in the portal, enabling parents to easily view and download at their convenience.