Lake Travis ISD experiences modern support and reporting features with Skyward
In this day and age of technology, districts need continual updates from their software providers to ensure technology is performing at its peak. Outdated software leads to outdated and inaccurate data, which in turn affects reporting, budgets, scheduling, and more. Without efficient software, it doesn’t take long for district operations to fall behind.
When updates from their legacy SIS became fewer and farther between, Lake Travis Independent School District in Austin, Texas knew it was time to start searching for a new option.
Kelly Smith, database systems administrator, and Mary Armendariz, information systems support technician, were excited to find an SIS that had what Lake Travis ISD lacked with their current system: strong customer support and advanced reporting features. The district found Skyward’s Qmlativ Education Management System to fit their needs.
"Our old system was archaic. As an end-user, our previous SIS was not at all intuitive."
Moving from an archaic to modern SIS
“Our old system was archaic,” said Smith. “For example, when doing reports, it showed all the job code language. Having to weed through all of that was difficult and confusing.”
“As an end-user, our previous SIS was not at all intuitive,” said Armendariz.
When the district got word that the solution they were using was being sunsetted for a new product, they took that as an opportunity to look for a new SIS vendor.
“We could tell that their new product wasn’t going to be much more than some lipstick on the old product,” said Smith.
So, after years of struggling with their provider, Lake Travis ISD began looking for an SIS that better fit their needs. The district looked at several other vendors, but found that many weren’t much better than their old system. That was until the district found Skyward’s Qmlativ Education Management System.
“When we started looking around for a new product, there wasn’t really anything to compare to Qmlativ,” said Smith.
Upon finding and deciding on Qmlativ, Lake Travis ISD began the implementation process in January of 2019. They started with future scheduling, then data, then data was converted in chunks as they needed it with step-by-step training with Skyward along the way. By mid-summer 2019, the district’s Qmlativ system was completely ready to be used for the 2019-2020 school year.
"When we started looking around for a new product, there wasn’t really anything to compare to Qmlativ."
Experiencing a new level of support
Once Qmlativ was up and running, Lake Travis ISD had to get their employees trained on the system.
“We had a lot of online training with many people from Skyward helping us,” said Smith. “Since we struggled so much with it on our old system, support was one of my biggest worries when we started with Qmlativ. My worries were quickly put to rest—Skyward’s support is fantastic.”
Right before the district’s first school year with Qmlativ, they were a bit overwhelmed with some features that weren’t set up yet. Skyward did not hesitate to help the district get up to speed.
“I couldn’t believe how just three days before the start of school Skyward sent down a representative to help us out,” said Smith. “He sat down and did so much work with us, staying late and wrapping up all of the little things that helped make the school year run better. That kind of help is invaluable."
Even after their first year with Qmlativ, Skyward continued to support Lake Travis ISD via the Professional Development Center (PDC), refresher trainings, and thoughtful customer interactions. For self-paced learning, the PDC was a favorite at the district.
“I love using the PDC,” said Armendariz. “Going online to learn how to use the software on my own time is fantastic, and I can even go back to topics that I need a refresher on.”
For other ways to refresh the district’s Qmlativ knowledge, Skyward offered additional trainings to those that needed it.
“There was never any hesitation in doing those types of things, which was super nice for us,” said Smith.
Overall, Lake Travis ISD was most impressed with Skyward’s commitment to strong customer service.
“Skyward is always there for us,” said Smith. “If we have a problem and need to turn in a ticket, they are always there to help, even on small calls. Never once have I felt like what I needed help with was bothering whoever was helping us.”
“To me it is very obvious that Skyward strives for customer satisfaction, which we completely appreciate,” said Armendariz.
"We love the speed and flexibility that Qmlativ provides us in terms of customization and filtering data. We should've moved earlier!"
Responsive and easy reporting
Apart from experiencing strong customer support, Lake Travis ISD is finding Qmlativ's flexibility and reporting features to be a huge upgrade from their previous system.
“We love the speed and flexibility that Qmlativ provides us in terms of customization and filtering data,” said Smith. “Qmlativ also makes downloading reports to Excel easy. With our previous software provider, getting data into Excel was really difficult. Being able to put anything we want from Qmlativ straight into Excel is incredible.”
While Lake Travis ISD loves the downloading features Qmlativ offers, ease of running reports is also essential, especially as a large district. More campuses means more data. With Qmlativ, Smith receives fewer calls from each campus asking her to run reports, which allows her to focus on other tasks and initiatives.
When Lake Travis ISD lost their PEIMS coordinator, state and federal reporting fell onto Smith. While this new, unexpected role was stressful at first, Skyward helped Smith as much as possible to keep the district operating efficiently through multiple phone calls and advice for how to avoid future problems.
“I had a submission due, and a representative from Skyward’s state and federal reporting team met with me, spending hours on the phone telling me exactly what to do," said Smith. “She was phenomenal and very patient.”
Gazing towards the future
For Lake Travis ISD, the future with Skyward is looking bright.
As a whole, the district plans to refine their New Student Online Enrollment (NSOE) process to add more checks and balances, and work more with online forms in general.
Smith is looking forward to learning more about reports, making better use of Knowledge Hub, a training tool in Skyward, to be able to create more robust reports.
For other districts considering the switch to Skyward, Smith and Armendariz urge them to get started as soon as possible, while also leaving time to implement slowly.
“I don’t know why people are waiting to come to Qmlativ,” said Smith. “Districts shouldn’t consider any other software—it’s definitely the way to go.”
“My advice to other districts is to give your staff, especially your office staff, plenty of time to learn and experiment with the system while implementing,” said Armendariz. “The more comfortable they are once school starts, the better.”
Overall, Lake Travis ISD is enjoying their time with Qmlativ, and simply wishes they had made the decision to move sooner.
“For us, coming to Qmlativ was a positive experience,” said Smith. “We should’ve moved earlier!”