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The Three Little ERPigs (and the Big Bad PR, Audits & Fines)


You’ve heard the age-old story of The Three Little Pigs, but have you heard the one about The Three ERPs?

Once upon a time, there was a school business official named Lisa. She was worried about falling victim to audits, fines and bad PR because she didn’t have a process for managing school data. She didn’t know what her options were, so she made her way out into the world to seek out the perfect solution.

The sun was shining, and the birds were singing. Lisa was determined to search far and wide until she felt like she was being a good steward of district resources. The most important thing to her was to make an impact by supporting education in her district.

The first answer she found was made entirely of paper and spreadsheets, because it seemed like the easiest thing to do. It wasn’t really an ERP system, but she figured that maybe it was close enough. While she could track any and everything that she liked, the sacrifice of structure and accountability for the flexibility and convenience in the moment didn’t feel quite right. The flimsy paper and sticky notes made it hard to keep her arms around all of the information that she was responsible for.

As the paper piled higher and higher, she pictured herself anxiously attempting to provide proof of documentation in the face of an audit. She realized that while spreadsheets and paper have their place, maybe they just wouldn’t do for the complex needs of a school district. Lisa knew that if an audit came knocking on the door, it wouldn’t be easy to find everything she needed from all the filing cabinets and spreadsheets.

She moved on and continued exploring her options.

In the distance she could see a big commotion and just had to see what all of the fuss was about. Running toward the sound, Lisa was confronted with her next option. The second answer to managing school data was trying to implement generic corporate finance software. Going digital had obvious advantages over the paper process, but it turned out that the generic software required costly code customizations to handle data collection & reporting for schools.

Despite all the bells and whistles (which she didn’t end up needing anyway) it became apparent that this system was not designed with her staff and students in mind. This generic corporate software probably works just fine for large businesses, but it surely wouldn’t empower her to get more dollars into her classrooms. And she definitely didn’t want to be in the news for spending so much money on a system that didn’t even work for schools out of the box.

Lisa grew tiresome of the chant of “We can do that too!” being closely followed by “…But it will cost you.”

She marched on knowing in her heart that someone just had to care about her schools as much as she did.

Finally, she came across a third option for managing school data. As Lisa approached, skeptical after everything she had seen that day, she noticed a statement big and bold and it grabbed her attention:

Built by educators for educators.

She explored every possible scenario for managing her school district’s data with this system and it was clear that she had found a winning match. She’d learned her lesson: schools need software that is designed exclusively for them, not second-hand solutions that were actually built for corporations, government or municipalities… it just isn’t the same.

Lisa made her way back to her district with the perfect solution for handling everything from HR to Finance and Payroll.

Lisa was able to trust that data collection, state and federal reporting were all running smoothly to maximize funding across her district. Her staff, students and families were grateful for reliable, real-time access to information.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Nichelle Smith

Nichelle Smith is a Product Marketing Manager for Frontline Education. With her Master's degree in Education and being a former educator, Nichelle loves to explore all things "edtech"!