The Challenge

This project was driven by feedback from parents and other stakeholders that they had too many systems to log into and not enough integration between these systems. Our goal was to consolidate several existing systems into a single portal for all community members to access, integrating it to systems we would retain.

The other big drivers were moving content creation away from IT, as well as the ability to dynamically display information based on what people’s roles were within the organisation.

Traditionally, schools release paper-based handbooks containing important information including details on religion, key dates and policies. We wanted to transform the content into an interactive digital format on the portal, and also extend the functionality to handle business needs, from giving parents the ability to pay school fees, to centralising newsfeeds and pulling in a calendar personalised to each user.

Riverview has had a great experience with Elcom. Their knowledge and support of their product has been first class, helping us to evolve our digital communications into what it is today. Brett Houghton, Head of Technology and Innovation
Saint Ignatius College Riverview

Saint Ignatius Riverview Responsive School Portal

The Solution

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.

The Benefits

  • We call our portal InsideView because it’s an internal view of the organisation for our school community. When we’re communicating with parents, students and staff, they know what we’re referring to and where to find information because it can be accessed through this one central system.

  • The feedback we’ve received from our parent surveys has been overwhelmingly positive. The portal is intuitive to use and offers a consolidated view of their son’s school life. From a staff perspective, we have 100% take up because they can only complete certain work-related tasks through the portal. This is reflected in the analytics. We see between 25k to 30k logins a week, and we’re on track to get up to 1.8 to 1.9 million views by the end of the year.

  • We now have a lot less systems that we have to manage, having shut down 6 systems as a result of bringing in Elcom. We don’t have to patch and maintain these additional systems anymore which has really saved us a lot of time. Our school generates a lot of content so I would have needed a team of people to keep all this content across several systems up-to-date. But now with Elcom, we can pass the responsibility of managing and updating content out to the owners of that content.

  • The integrations built to existing systems work very well. Synergetic was a key integration and we never have any issues. I’m extremely happy we have the opportunity to keep extending and building on the system, especially with the Canvas integration; if a parent ever has to look at a mark for their child or a report, they can view it straight from the portal.

  • Through InsideView, we’ve streamlined our communications and messaging to our parents, students and staff. As we continue improving it, it’s just working better and better for us and our school community.

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