In a previous post, starting your day with a healthy breakfast was used as an analogy for planning a SIS implementation. Well, I want to discuss what comes after having that nutritious breakfast (and all of your thorough planning).

You are almost ready for a hard day’s work and the excitement of using your new SIS and all of its new functionality. But, first you must clean-up! It doesn’t sound like fun, does it? After preparing and eating a good breakfast, cleaning up is a task that you might dread or one that you may not have budgeted time for.

But cleaning up now will save lots of aggravation later.

When you leave your kitchenware in good shape, it will be clean and ready to use later. A little work now will leave things in order later, and save lots of time and effort in the end.

Similarly, your data should be “cleaned up” as you move it from your legacy system to a new SIS. For many organizations the biggest challenge in implementing a new SIS is how to successfully migrate legacy data into their new environment. This process should be viewed as an opportunity for improvement. Without careful planning for your data migration, you may perpetuate data conditions that have been haunting you in your legacy system. Cleaning up your data positions your organization for a smooth transition into your new system.

What exactly does this mean? What should the plan be? What do you need to do?

  1. Examine your current educational practices. What are you doing now? Where do you want to go? Maybe there are some things that your new system will allow you to implement to facilitate a more efficient business process. This may impact the data that is converted. Moving to a new SIS presents you with an opportunity to adapt or adjust existing workflow processes for more efficiency. For example, maybe you still schedule PE on Thursdays because your school used the gym in the church across the street in 1974. Since that is no longer the case, a change in schedule might be in order. Adapting and adjusting existing workflow processes will allow full use of the advanced features of the new SIS.
  2. This won’t happen by chance. Remember that planning? More planning is needed. Determine Who, What, When, Why and How to complete this task.
    1. Who: Who will be involved in data conversion and verification?
      1. This might include data clerks, IT personnel, teachers, principals, registrars, counselors, GT and Special Education teachers, nurses, etc.
      2. Meet with them to discuss their needs and how they can be involved in the data conversion, clean-up and verification process.
      3. Set clear expectations on the items below – what, when, why and how, especially the why. Remember WIFM (What’s In It For Me?). Explain why this is important to each of them.
    2. What: What will they do?
      1. Remove any old and unneeded data from the conversion file(s) before introducing the data into your new SIS. If your system currently has students or data on students that is no longer needed, this is your chance to remove that data. It can be archived as a safety measure.
      2. Establish internal procedures for converting and verifying/proofing the data. This should include data health check(s) and several test conversions.
      3. Decide what kind of data would be easy for teachers and other staff to verify.
      4. Prepare and run queries/reports and provide them to staff that will be involved in the data verification.
    3. When:
      1. Establish a timeline and stick to it.
      2. Build flexibility into your conversion timeline for any hurdles you may encounter.
    4. Why:
      1. Start off with a clean, clutter-free database in your new SIS.
      2. Pursue and commit to high-quality data.
      3. Develop a plan to ensure that no duplicate data (i.e. contacts, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) is converted into your new SIS. This would also be an excellent time to examine your existing daily practice to make certain that new data doesn’t contain duplicates.
      4. Ensure the format and integrity of your data.
    5. How:
      1. Explain how data will be used.
      2. Develop checklists, and other conversion related processes.
      3. Be prepared to help staff verify data and understand why this is important to them.
      4. Your SIS software vendor will have processes and tools for your use. Do not rely entirely on your vendor’s expertise and remember the District Staff are the experts when it comes to verifying the District SIS data. Be an active participant in the process.

Cleaning up after breakfast, and cleaning up your SIS data, will make both your kitchen and your database much more pleasant, and allow for greater efficiency the next time you use them.

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