Noted political scientist Herbert A. Simon once observed:
“In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes.
What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients.
Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”
Superintendents and other school administrators can no doubt relate. Over the last decade or more, we have gained greater access to information, have an ever-growing stack of tools and information at our disposal and yet we find ourselves so overwhelmed and overworked that we can scarcely make sense of it all…let alone leverage the insights that lurk beneath the surface, hidden from plain sight.
Each passing year or so, without really thinking about it, professionals in every sector (the public and educational included) have incrementally added a tool here, an application there, a system here, a database there. We are now at the point at which enough has become more than enough — it’s become too much.
Now the challenge has become finding ways to do more with less. The forward-thinking among our busiest superintendents are now discovering ways to combine tools, simplify the tech stack, and eliminate multiple — even redundant — tools by combining once disparate systems into more holistic, singular systems that complement each other and work in unison to achieve optimal educational outcomes.
Combine and Contract to Get More Out of Your Technology
As a school district superintendent, you are responsible for the technology that supports much more than only the learning of your students and performance of your staff. The sheer amount of technologies a given administrator must log into and assess at any given time is enormous. Student achievement reporting, learning management systems, budgeting and forecasting software, educator evaluation systems, transparency and compliance reporting, personnel management, project coordination software, school safety drill management systems, time and resource tracking, truancy and attendance, behavior and discipline. I might go on and on and still never even cover them all. This can be a daunting task, as the tech stack for a school district can be complex and ever-changing.
There are many reasons why you might want to simplify your tech stack, and only one among them is to save the obvious time and administrative burden of managing, maintaining and accessing this number of disparate technology tools. Perhaps you are also looking to save money facing budget cuts, or perhaps you want to make it easier for your staff to use the technology in a way that is more clearly and closely tied to measurements of outcomes. Maybe you are looking to improve security or compliance.
Whatever your reasons, there are a few things you can do to simplify your tech stack.
- First, take an inventory of all the technology that you currently use. This will help you to identify any areas where you could consolidate or eliminate systems.
- Second, consider your needs. What are the essential technologies that you need to support the learning of your students and staff? Once you have identified your needs, you can start to eliminate any unnecessary systems.
- Third, look for ways to consolidate systems. For example, you might be able to move all of your student data into a single cloud-based system — including both publicly available peer data as well as your own internal proprietary data. This will make it easier for your staff to access, analyze and leverage the data.
- Fourth, consider using a single platform for all of your technology needs. This can make it easier for your staff to learn and use the technology, especially during times of high staff turnover.
- Fifth, work with your vendors to simplify your tech stack. Many vendors offer discounts or other incentives for schools that commit to using their products for a certain period of time or the more available options/modules the user elects to activate. Purchasing more from a single vendor may actually reduce cost through the elimination of others.
By following these tips, you can simplify your tech stack and make it easier for your staff to use the technology to support the learning of your students. You will no doubt reduce the burdens of time and employee training, where monetary savings become obvious. In return, both you and your team will have more time and greater bandwidth to focus on what is most critical: elevating educational outcomes.
But that’s only the beginning of the benefit. The true upside is perhaps far less obvious.
The Hidden Benefits of Making the Invisible Visible
One of the most powerful cases for merging technology, simplifying the superintendent’s tech stack, and eliminating costly redundancies is the upshot of what this truly accomplishes. What results is more comprehensive systems that keep all of the important information and data in one location, so that the drivers of success can talk to each other, learn from each other, and be analyzed holistically.
When systems are in silos, your various data systems are keeping secrets from you — and each other. When combined, integrated and overlaid, what often results is that invisible becomes…visible.
We use the term “braiding data,” which is an apt representation of the benefit of such an approach. Individual strings of rope in the physical realm are made much more stronger when braided together than are when used separately and alone. Your data is no different. When intertwined, integrated and interdependent, your various systems become much more than a stack — they become a powerful, complete and cohesive system that honors and accounts for all drivers and outcomes of a school’s or district’s ultimate success.
The Munetrix Enterprise Edition for Schools is an example of just such braided technology that superintendents have at their disposal. The system is a comprehensive, all-in-one solution for school districts looking to create a district-wide culture of community through trust, teamwork and transparency. From financials and transparency compliance to planning and progress reporting, the Munetrix Financial Module features easy-to-adopt and easy-to-use modules that facilitate simpler and more robust forecasting, capital planning and performance management.
Offered in conjunction with the Munetrix Academic Module, the product offers a comprehensive suite of powerful, interdependent solutions for the whole district, as well as the whole student—taking multi-level, complex data sets and making them simple to understand, report and act upon. The Academic Module provides a full suite of tools single tool that gives superintendents and educators the ability to accelerate academic outcomes and effectively educate and monitor the progress of “the whole student”—academically, emotionally, socially, demographically, and socio-economically—all with a single, easy-to-use interface.
Specific modules address the complete range of a district’s departmental operations, including tools for performance analytics, data visualization, business and process workflows, fiscal wellness, and compliance reporting. Maximizing the product’s interoperability by integrating with a district’s existing systems, the product enables users to quickly and easily harvest and contextualize publicly available data and privately generated data in one powerful combination.
Users at any level of financial proficiency can use the system to create linear regression budgets in a matter of minutes, as well as multi-year forecasts with multiple scenarios, to assess potential outlooks and plan for the future. Human resources teams can generate multiple reports to better understand performance, staffing trends and costs related to salary and benefits. The system also empowers administrators to compare enrollment trends against staffing trends to easily visualize operational and budgetary status/forecasts.
Easy-to-use interpretive charts and graphs help policy makers understand the true picture and help auditors in the preparation of “supplemental” reports.
Best of all, users are able to quickly transform multi-level complex data sets into easy-to-comprehend visualizations in order to provide consistent, relevant and actionable data to stakeholders—leading to greater transparency and collaboration across the district and entire community it serves.
The product saves superintendents hundreds of hours per year, otherwise spent on collecting, aggregating, disaggregating and analyzing data by more traditional methods such as spreadsheets, Google forms, Word documents, etc., stored in multiple, disparate locations, where they are difficult to sort, search and cross-analyze.
The Munetrix Enterprise Edition for Schools provides schools a unique, holistic platform that empowers districts to analyze all of their data with a single log-in and destination, supporting horizontal succession planning, building institutional knowledge, and facilitating workflow management.
More transparency. More teamwork and collaboration. Less with more…that is what the modern tech stack looks like for superintendents.Want help simplifying your superintendent tech stack? Contact us for a custom demo of the Munetrix Enterprise Edition for Schools.