Our 10+ years of experience working with schools to implement and support Veracross is that success with Veracross is heavily dependent upon each school appointing a School Project Manager (SPM) to oversee the implementation and subsequent operation of Veracross at their school. If Student Billing and/or Accounting has been purchased a second project manager is often appointed for those specialized activities. The SPM is generally responsible for the duties below. While we ask that communication with Veracross be done by the SPM, we also recommend that some of the responsibilities below be delegated to other people within the organization, particularly if some of the duties are better matched with others’ strengths. The bulleted lists contain examples of each responsibility and the green “Best Practice” sections highlight outstanding practices of some of our schools. This list is not complete, but should provide a good overview of the responsibilities of the school point person.
The SPM is responsible for the training of school employees and others who have a relationship with the school. Veracross will provide a certain number of initial on-site training hours as specified in the contract, as well as web-training sessions each year, and the SPM is expected to attend these trainings to increase his/her knowledgebase. The SPM should coordinate additional web trainings between Veracross and departments as the need arises and as the contract allows. The SPM is also expected to do much of the additional on-site training as the need arises. SPMs may of course delegate this training to other technically savvy individuals within their organization. Training may include the following groups of people:
- New employees
- Replacements (whether the SPM is being replaced or whether a key user in a given department)
Best Practice: One of our schools pairs new faculty members with seasoned faculty veterans to learn the ropes in the Veracross Teacher module. Another school wrote a mini guide to answer common faculty questions. Another school hosted an event to introduce parents to the parent portal. Since SPMs are in charge of training other Veracross users at their school, it is especially helpful if they take effective notes and jot down questions that come up during on-site training that they can refer back to when organizing their own trainings.
The SPM acts as liaison between Veracross and the school, communicating a variety of information to school staff and faculty members. Such communication may include:
- Veracross enhancements
- Veracross changes
- System upgrades
- System downtime
- New documentation articles
Best Practice: Be proactive in disseminating communication from Veracross. Confusion and frustration result when changes or enhancements are made to the software and are not communicated to end users.
The SPM should be adept at managing priorities and projects from start to finish and should enjoy working with Veracross. This requires enthusiasm, promptness and a willingness to work with the system and tackle any problems that arise. An SPM who lacks the desire to manage the school’s SIS has a tendency to add to the frustration when problems or requests come their way. It is also important for the SPM to realize that Veracross requires dedicated time in their week. Solving problems and enhancing the system require daily attention to keep projects rolling. Though Veracross does not require full time attention, an SPM in a large or complex school should ideally dedicate 15-20 hours in a week to responding to emails, updating requests, and managing projects.
- Juggling multiple priorities from several departments
- Managing projects of varied sizes from start to finish
Best Practice: Your Veracross Account Manager (VAM) has a role in keeping things organized, but we rely heavily on SPMs to know what’s important when. In some cases, it’s been helpful to set up weekly or bi-monthly meetings between the SPM and the VPM to make sure projects and priorities stay on track.
The SPM is generally more knowledgeable about Veracross than other school employees. They will aim to resolve as many “help-desk” issues and questions as possible from employees prior to contacting Veracross. In the event that they are unable to resolve an issue, they should enter a Veracross Request in the Client Portal. Troubleshooting and escalating problems require being an effective listener and communicator. If the SPM does not take the time to understand what the problem is when entering a Request, chances are the Veracross Account Manager (VAM) won’t understand the problem either when the request comes to them. This often leads to a lot of extra back and forth between the SPM and VAM trying to gather information that could have been submitted with the request, had the SPM taken the time to understand what was going on. Some sample troubleshooting that the SPM may end up doing is:
- Creating queries
- Answering data entry and data management questions
- Saving queries to homepages and/or personal folders of staff members
The SPM should have a desire to maximize the use of Veracross’ rich features and functionality. This requires a desire to continue learning and exploring the functionality that Veracross provides, and to envision how that functionality can help your school be successful. We’re here to help you. If there are ways Veracross can improve, if there is data that you’d like Veracross to track, if there are ways in which Veracross might be able to help your school function more efficiently, please let us know. We rely on our clients to tell us what’s important to them. In many cases, this determines the priority of projects and future Veracross development. Successful SPMs are in touch with the needs of their school, and have ideas of how Veracross can be more successful at the school.
Best Practice: In order to find out what is important to clients, we need to hear suggestions from end-users. This process works smoothly when SPMs are open to suggestions that faculty, staff, parents, etc. have for improvements to Veracross. Successful SPMs help filter ideas by giving guidance to users who do not fully understand Veracross’ functionality and passing along other suggestions.
We realize that it takes time for everyone to get used to working with a system as in-depth as Veracross, and so do not expect perfection from the SPM. However, we do expect that the SPM will continue to become familiar with the system and that there is improvement in the level of support they are able to provide the school as this happens.
Best Practice: Continue to use Veracross on a daily basis and periodically click around in parts of Veracross that you might not use daily. Check the Veracross documentation regularly for updates and read new documentation. The more the SPM is familiar with Veracross and its possibilities, the higher the potential for growth!