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“I’m really looking forward to switching to LINQ for the simple fact that so many of the things that we’re using so many different programs for right now, we can do in one program.”
Director of Finance
Newberg Public Schools, OR
Newberg Public Schools’ finance and HR teams struggled to manage district operations, using up to seven different software systems that didn’t integrate with each other. The Oregon K-12 district still relied on paper-based processes that bogged down staff efficiency. Disparate finance and HR software systems required extensive amounts of time spent on manual data entry and error correction, especially for employees relatively new to the district. Director of Finance Heather Bixby says they wanted to “build the bridge between the two” teams and their workflows to simplify operations.
When they were faced with moving their systems to the cloud, Bixby and Director of HR Scott Linenberger saw it as an opportunity to rethink the complexities of their current operations. They sought a solution to replace their various systems with a single, streamlined finance and HR platform.
Challenges of Siloed K-12 Finance and HR Systems
Siloed systems created many challenges for Newberg, starting with data accuracy. Bixby says moving data in and out of different systems simply wasn’t reliable. “We [would] literally go and create a download from one program and then upload it into the next program and hope that our data [went] to the right place,” she explains. “We are doing that to communicate between five different programs. There’s potential for a lot of human error and the potential for a lot of inconsistent data.”
Duplicate data entries for managing district finances, accounting, purchase orders, contracts, payroll, reporting, and more also resulted in underutilization of the software they had. According to Bixby, “We had all these different programs, and we weren’t using even 50% of them. We were using 20% of this program and 20% of [that] program. And then we do spreadsheets for everything else.” In addition to burdensome, inefficient workflows, lack of reliance on a single platform also meant they weren’t getting the most out of any of the systems they were paying for.
Inconsistent data between systems also caused confusion and required additional administrative time to review and correct errors. The amount of sick leave, for example, would show different amounts in different systems. Because manual updates were only done once a month, employees wouldn’t know exactly how much sick leave or vacation time they had at any given time.
Recruiting and onboarding new employees increasingly became a chore with so many systems not talking to each other. Linenberger knew a user-friendly system was essential. He wanted to give everyone more time and energy to focus on these critical tasks with easier-to-navigate tools that would automatically share information between HR and Finance teams in real-time. “The time, energy, and effort to train and cross-train” had to be simpler, he says.
Evaluating K-12 Finance and HR Software Providers
Facing the need to migrate their data to the cloud was the catalyst to reconsider software providers. “We just felt like it would be easier to start over than it would be to try and repair and update what we [were] currently using,” Bixby says.
Bixby and Linenberger worked together to find an intuitive, centralized platform to save time, reduce errors, and improve visibility into school-level accounting. They also sought a provider that would partner with them, listening to their input and tailoring their implementation to their needs.
As part of the evaluation process, customer service and responsiveness took priority. Newberg’s existing provider went more than a week before returning their calls, so Bixby started phoning the customer service lines of those up for bid to see how long it took to get a live person. LINQ took less than a minute. Bixby interpreted that as a sign of a quality partnership.
A New, Simpler Path Forward by Partnering with LINQ
After Newberg adopted TITAN, now known as LINQ Nutrition, they quickly learned about LINQ ERP—a system with robust finance, accounting, and HR functionality.
Putting LINQ ERP to the test, Bixby and Linenberger were keen on finding a simpler solution to eliminate the problems of disparate software with a single platform solution. “We want something that does it all. Because you know, we want our cake, and we want to eat it too,” Bixby says with a smile.
Evaluating product capabilities and considering “what was user-friendly, what would be easy to navigate, what kind of customer service we were getting—LINQ just kept coming out on top,” recalls Bixby.
The decision to move forward with LINQ ERP for Newberg Public Schools has them excited. “I’m really looking forward to switching to LINQ for the simple fact that so many of the things that we’re using so many different programs for right now, we can do in one program,” says Bixby. “You guys can build the bridge to directly communicate between the two [finance and HR] systems, so for us, that’s huge.”
In addition to the cost savings they’ll gain from a far more efficient, integrated system, Newberg plans to improve financial visibility and transparency at the individual school level. “I’m hoping for better information and analysis going out to the buildings and then better fiscal accountability for all of the departments and all of our funds,” says Bixby.
For Linenberger, the past year since joining the district has been about building relationships and trust. He says LINQ is there to support when “we tell them that this is what we’re going to do, how we’re doing it, and why.” Linenberger says the follow through continues to give him and his team confidence. When it comes to simplifying Newberg’s finance and HR operations with LINQ ERP, he says, “we’re going to see this through.”