“In government, as in most realms of life, we find it safer and easier to do what we’ve always done, simply because we’ve always done it. Only on rare occasions, usually at times of crisis, do we step back to gain a broader perspective, erase all our preconceived ideas and routine behaviors, and take a fresh look at how to make the most of our limited time and resources.”

-Peter Hutchinson, Public Strategies Group

A school district in Vermont that I met with not too long ago told me that they had recently faced a big question: “Do we keep doing things the same way with our limited resources while demands become greater, or do we dare to challenge what we are doing?”

With an old accounting software system, limited resources, offline processes, and ever-increasing demands for information, they decided to push forward and see what they could change instead of staying put. They believed that they could improve.

The first step they took was to talk to their employees. They researched why their administrative team was feeling overwhelmed with managing information, why their staff was forced to create manual time-intensive ways to address gaps in reporting, and why some information took weeks to produce. They ultimately determined that they could do things better and more efficiently.

The administration decided it was time to put their inefficient processes under scrutiny. How were they developing the budget? How could they reduce paper use and automate the purchasing process? How did they record employees’ time and attendance? Most importantly, how could the district better manage and share information with everyone?

Asking these questions paid off.

The results they found determined that they could save MORE THAN 2,459 HOURS of employee time every school year by simply changing their workflows. They found ways to save the district’s approximately 1.3 FTE’s working at a full forty hours every year!

But it gets even better.

The time savings they experienced in simply changing how they did things resulted in more than enough savings for them to be able to purchase a new state-of-the-art accounting software system. The return on their investment with the new system started paying them back in the first year!

Now that’s a win for everyone in the school district, thanks to putting in the hard work to challenge the status quo!

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