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District updates software systems

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2008

 

  Kenai Peninsula Borough School District secretaries focus on learning a new software program during a training session Thursday at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai. Photo by Jenny Neyman

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District secretaries focus on learning a new software program during a training session Thursday at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai.

Photo by Jenny Neyman

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is implementing a new human resources, payroll and finance software system districtwide.

Anyone dealing with the business of the school district - from schools to the warehouse, payroll to personnel, will use the new APECS.net program.

The second week of January was the time to learn the program. Two trainers from Education Solutions Development Inc., near Chicago, were in Kenai to lead a week of hands-on training demonstrations at The Challenger Learning Center of Alaska. About 80 representatives from every school and virtually every department in the district came to get a look at the new software.

For many it was their first time seeing the program they've been hearing - and perhaps being nervous about. The software is a fundamental part of many people's jobs, and vital school district business functions depend on it.

Likewise, the continuous efficient operation of the district depends on its personnel being able to transition to the new program. So it was not without some apprehension that the training got under way.

It also was not without ample coffee and snacks, intensive planning and preparation, plenty of helpers on hand to answer questions, and - as it turns out - excitement.

"Oh, thank you!" a voice rang out from the rows of trainees clustered around laptop computers Thursday, after watching a demonstration of a time-saving function of APECS.net that wasn't possible in the old system.

"I've always wanted to do that!"

Some version of that sentiment seemed to predominate the week, as trainees learned about the workflow procedures, intuitive navigation abilities and customization features available in APECS.net that didn't exist with the previous software.

A positive attitude and commitment to success go a long way toward a smooth transition, and the trainees had both, according to Laurie Olson, KPBSD chief accountant.

"The secretaries seemed excited and are, according to Ravi (Nanda, one of the ESD trainers), the smartest group he has ever trained," Olson said.

Preparation for the training goes back to 2005, when the district and Kenai Peninsula Borough issued a joint request for proposals for a new software system.

The program replaces an older, non-Web based version of APECS the district used for human resources and payroll, and financial software created in-house, largely by programmer Patty Campbell, that has served the district's needs for many years.

Planning the implementation of APECS.net has been ongoing since, with programmers working to customize the system to the district's unique needs and organizers planning all aspects of the training phase, from developing instruction manuals to making travel arrangements for secretaries from outlying schools, and coordinating the army of substitutes needed to take everyone's places while they were off learning the software.

After training it becomes time for another resolution, to put new knowledge to good use, as the district gets back to business as usual just in a new way.

Jenny Neyman is the communications specialist at the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. She can be reached at jneyman@kpbsd.k12.ak.us.



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