A year ago, I told you about a pilot project that we were launching in Wisconsin during the 2016-17 school year in partnership with Emerald Data Solutions, the BoardDocs people. The new approach would revolutionize the technology and efficiency of the Neola policy publishing and editing platform. Today I’d like to share an update on this exciting project with you.
You may recall the reasons behind Neola’s decision to pursue the development of a new publishing platform with BoardDocs people. In a nutshell, the rationale was to make adopting new policies and revising existing ones quite a bit easier and much faster by creating Web-based “one-stop shopping” for publishing and updating policies. This alone was a great reason for us to proceed, but another reason made it a necessity: the server software that Neola uses to publish districts’ policies is being phased out.
I am delighted to report that the success of the Wisconsin pilot, involving 198 of our clients in the Badger State, exceeds even our own expectations.
Neola Associate Steve LaVallee, a former superintendent in Wisconsin, has been helping superintendents and administrative assistants learn the new platform. I asked Steve what his main message would be to other Associates and clients who will be making the transition to the new platform.
“The transition will be much smoother than what they might believe,” Steve said. “They will need to take the time to learn it, as with any new software, but pretty much every superintendent and administrative assistant I’ve trained thinks it is easy to use and intuitive. And the long-term potential is probably what they are most excited about.”
The long-term potential that Steve referred to is what excites me the most about this project. The platform that we and the BoardDocs people have developed is uniquely designed to integrate technological and other improvements over time. This means that technological advances, which move at light speed, won’t quickly date the new platform soon after all our clients get used to it. Moreover, you, as a Neola client, will have 24/7 training help and other support from our BoardDocs partner.
Although the Wisconsin pilot has gone smoothly, the time involved in transitioning a district from the current platform to the new one is extensive. Converting material for each client takes at least 20 hours, but sometimes it takes upwards of 50 hours per book, depending on the nature of the content. Neola has increased its number of production employees to handle the additional workload, but the transition is taking longer than we first anticipated. About 20% of our clients are now converted to the new platform. In addition to Wisconsin, all of Florida and some Ohio districts have been converted and have started training, which includes small-group sessions and ongoing opportunities for feedback to help us refine the conversion process as it goes.
The transition to BoardDocs is being rolled out strategically in stages to allow for enough time to convert client materials and schedule training for everyone involved. A contact at your District will be notified when we are preparing to move your District to BoardDocs. You will work closely with your Neola Associate, the Neola BoardDocs transition team, and BoardDocs trainers to complete each step of the transition.
Your Neola Associate will keep you informed about the schedule for conversion of your District to the new platform. They will be your primary contact for questions or concerns, but please don’t hesitate to send me an email or call if there are related issues you wish to discuss.
Thanks for your patience as the conversion to the new platform proceeds and thanks again for being part of the Neola family.
Richard N. Clapp, Ph.D.
President of Neola Inc.