Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board is committed to delivering a vibrant Catholic education. They ensure quality learning experiences through community partnerships that nurture each student in body, mind and spirit and embrace the teachings of Christ, giving witness to Gospel values.
Although Bruce-Grey first partnered with Sparkrock in 2009, reaping efficiency benefits in their finance system such as the ability for more flexible and accurate reporting capabilities, which are crucial for school boards to maintain their funding, their Payroll solution was previously outsourced to a third party vendor. This caused bottlenecks and significant strain on the department, which had to process payroll for over 500 permanent and 300 casual employees. Before integrating, they would be manually posting a journal entry of 300-400 lines, and have to calculate it and input it manually every pay period. Joyce Benninger, Supervisor of Payroll, notes that they “weren’t able to be flexible enough to handle the complexity of some of the deductions and earnings that had to be calculated.”
When the school board realized that they were wasting a large amount of time inputting and calculating payroll manually, they didn’t have to look far to find a solution. In 2014 they brought Sparkrock back in to implement their HR/Payroll suite, including employee management and advanced scheduling tools. Alecia Lantz, Superintendent of Business and Treasurer, was particularly enthusiastic about the full integration of the HR/Payroll suite with their finance system and being able to have all the modules under one roof and speaking to one another. “It’s a more streamlined process of getting all our data into the General Ledger, and we can better analyze our accounts by being able to drill down to the minute detail of each transaction, including by location,” she says. “And we’re really excited that account allocations are so much more accurate. If an individual is working in two different jobs, we can now split that out in our GL.”
Bruce-Grey also wanted to improve automation to give the schools self-access to end-to-end processes for requisitions, purchase orders and invoicing, and to provide their users with real-time data with which they could use to make better business decisions. This was achieved by implementing and integrating the Sparkrock Employee Self Serve portal, which gives users real-time access to the data and information they need via an online portal.
The administrative burden of filing was huge for Bruce-Grey CDSB before the new system, so an ‘electronic filing cabinet’ was incorporated into the 2014 project by integrating the document tagging and management tool, Kwiktag, with the Sparkrock HR/Payroll, procurement and finance processes. The tool allows users to tag documents with unique, retrievable codes; for example, as opposed to having to collate documents by vendor – of which there may only be one in a batch of invoices received – employees can now tag documents with the codes and index them against attributes like ‘vendor.’ Accounts Payable staff can then streamline all data into a single file, and then file by batch.
“Instead of digging manually through files we can now just pull invoices and other documents up on a computer screen – it’s been a huge time saver,” says Lantz. The technology also means “we can set our auditors up with a computer, and they’re able to search documents on their own… that has saved us time and money as well.”
HR/Payroll employees have also been freed up from all the time they used to spend searching for information and manually filing so that staff can do higher-priority work such as analysis. “There’s a great deal of analysis that can be conducted with the new technology solutions,” says Lantz. “We now have the ability to break down our analysis by ‘location’ and ‘group’ and drill down to the minute detail of each transaction.”
The new Employee Self-Serve Portal has also improved the school board’s efficiencies.
Designated users, such as principals, at each of the 13 schools now have increased budgetary control and smoother procurement processes since rolling out the Employee portal. About 100 staff use the tool to access their pay stubs and T4s, change their profile information, submit vacation time and more – all online in a secure browser. While all staff are empowered by the self-serve portal, the 300 casual employees in particular love how they can enter and check their hours online. “They aren’t thinking we’re hiding how many sick days or vacation days they have,” says Benninger. “They’ll be able to see at a glance all their statistics. If they have a name change or an address change, they’ll be able to make that change themselves and control that.”
Other benefits of the new technology have been “an incredible reduction of paper we process and tasks happening more quickly,” Lantz says, “Overall, we just wish we implemented sooner!”