A growing number of Australian schools and colleges, including early adopters Mowbray College, St Mary Star of the Sea and The Southport School have implemented Quad, an integrated schools administration solution from LANSA business partner Sundata. Quad, developed with LANSA eBiz Accelerator, gives school staff, teachers, students and parents efficient Web access to information.
John Hutson, Director at Sundata, says, "With LANSA eBiz Accelerator we have turbocharged Web development. We finished our initial release of Quad in eight months, a third of the time we had originally estimated. Our customers love the user interface, because it offers the same productivity as a native Windows application, but with a zero-install browser and fast XML-based architecture."
Our customers love the productive zero-install and XML-based browser architecture
- A Window of Opportunity
- Turbocharged Development
- An integrated Solution
- Multiple Platforms and Options
- Company and System Information
A Window of Opportunity
Many schools are struggling with the results of a fragmented information technology approach. They may have their financial administration in Delphi, student assessments in Fox Pro and rosters and scheduling in Microsoft. The uniform shop and library may use different systems again. It is not uncommon for three versions of a student database to exist, all with overlapping and inconsistent data.
"Staff, teachers and departments have all created their own solutions over the years," says Hutson. "Because the systems aren't integrated, they cannot share data. Schools need an integrated single database solution for all their business and activities."
Another problem many schools are facing is client maintenance. Hutson illustrates this with an example of a group of 130 schools that he recently visited. The schools were all using the same solution, but the software was installed on individual servers and contained client components as well. Each new software release took over a week to implement, even though support staff managed to upgrade 20 PCs per day. The group also had to support multiple software versions simultaneously and employed several fulltime IT staff to look after the system upgrades and operate a help desk.
"We saw a window of opportunity," continues Hutson. "We wanted to offer an integrated browser-based solution. No vendor in the school administration market had the ability to deliver an integrated application with a browser interface. But, if you wait 12 months someone else will beat you to it."
Sundata acquired the rights to redevelop an iSeries-based school administration system, from a green-screen application to a Web-enabled environment. However, the school application was very large. Sundata estimated that redevelopment would take in the order of two man-years.
Quad gives us a single database and consolidated overview
Sundata was introduced to LANSA business partner Neller. Neller had faced a similar redevelopment project with their Preceda Payroll solution and created a productive template-based Web development tool called LANSA eBiz Accelerator, that extends LANSA for the Web and uses XML technology to deliver bandwidth performance that is comparable to green-screen.
Sundata was convinced that eBiz Accelerator was the right tool. "We liked the Windows style look and feel of the applications it generates. And it gave us the productivity we were looking for," says Hutson.
"With LANSA eBiz Accelerator we increased our software development productivity three fold. Even our inexperienced programmers could deliver three to four screen programs per day. We were able to deliver Quad in just eight months. As a result, we launched Quad during the 2002 school year, earlier than scheduled."
"Because LANSA is multi-platform, we have enlarged our customer base. I estimate that over 90 percent of the Australian schools have a very strong leaning towards Windows. We can tell schools about the benefits of the iSeries, but we have to respect their decision. For large multi-school or multi-campus implementations, however, the robustness and high-end scalability of the iSeries makes it a natural choice."
With LANSA eBiz Accelerator we increased development productivity three fold
An integrated Solution
St Mary Star of the Sea College is a private Catholic girls high school in Wollongong, New South Wales, with about 1150 students. Hans Lambert, Business manager at St Mary, says, "Quad is a lot easier to use than its 5250-based predecessor. The good database structure and rich functionality remain, but everything else is much better."
"Reporting is a lot better and easier. eBiz Extractor, a standard query facility of Quad, gives us very easy access to any piece of information from the users desktop. This is one of the major time savers in Quad, particularly in a financial area. Extractor has a very easy interface to Excel for further analysis and data manipulation."
The Southport School is an Anglican day and Boarding school on the Gold Coast in Queensland, with about 1,300 students. David Dobbie, accountant at The Southport School, agrees, "The Extractor query tool is fantastic and saves us a lot of time in locating information. Recently I needed to answer an auditor's query. It was easy because with eBiz Extractor I could list all payments after a certain date and sort them by amount."
"And because Quad is Windows-based, we can now print PDF format reports on local PC printers with A4 paper, instead of the old fashioned and expensive central dot-matrix printer. The PDF interface allows us to disseminate information throughout the School without the need to print pages of reports, helping to alleviate the ever increasing paper flows."
"We are now rolling Quad out to teachers to access student information, generate class lists, record student grades and results and do all their reporting. Several teachers are interested in Quad's Wireless interface for class lists and other information exchange that is needed during camp and excursions. The remote access feature via the Web is proving very useful."
Quad allows us to run this large school with the minimum of administrative and IT staff
Multiple Platforms and Options
Quad suits a wide range of customers. It caters for the administration of multiple schools in a group, as well as multiple campuses within a school. This makes it possible for all the schools in a Parish, Diocese or state education system to share data and resources by running their administration on a single server. In this shared environment, a school can access their own data, while authorized staff gets a consolidated overview of all the schools in that group.
"We also offer Quad in an ASP scenario, where schools can completely outsource hardware and software to us," adds Hutson. "This means that schools can do their own administration over the Web, without the upfront investment in hardware or software."
Hutson concludes, "With the help of LANSA's productivity we were the first in Australia to deliver a completely integrated Web enabled school administration system. And Quad is still unique in this."
Because LANSA is multi-platform, we have enlarged our customer base
Company and System Information
- Sundata Pty Ltd, founded in 1986, is a Brisbane-based LANSA partner and systems integrator. Sundata delivers hardware, software and services to customers in the schools sector and to the small to medium enterprise market.
- For more information visit: www.sundata.com.au
- Quad was recognized by IBM in its 2003 IBM Beacon Awards as one of three finalists globally in the WebSphere eBusiness solutions category.
- For more information visit: www.quad.com.au