Cutting Edge Technology for 21st Century Education –
Autry Technology Center Leads the Way .
Cloud Nine | Tech Ed™
Autry Technology Center, based in Enid, Oklahoma, built and refined a modernized educational model for today’s world. With the cost of higher education skyrocketing and degrees not meeting the needs of industry, Autry fills the void. One of 29 schools in Oklahoma’s Career Tech System, Autry concentrates on delivering affordable and functional education and tailored service to companies in the area. With more than 25 career programs, a wide variety of evening and weekend short-term courses, and certifications tailored to multiple and diverse career fields, Autry serves nearly 13,000 students yearly, including employees in more than 500 local businesses who receive customized training.
A STUDENT INFORMATION SYSTEM FOR THE DIGITAL WORLD
Autry didn’t want to implement another basic information system, they wanted to take a giant, groundbreaking technical leap forward. To bring their vision to life — and get out of the spreadsheet and SQL server “fixes” they were using at the time -they engaged PA Group. The resulting solution is a robust, customized student information system that provides start to finish service to their students and the local companies they serve.
“We needed a solution that allows for significant modernization … ”
THE MICROSOFT PLATFORM, CUSTOMIZED
Since Autry isn’t a K-12 school, big college, or university, they knew they didn’t want a solution that was built for that kind of institution. Besides being cost prohibitive, those solutions don’t provide processes for working with local companies, or for recruiting and tracking students from primary education to senior citizen education, with every age and need in between. Autry needed all of that, and more.
Because Autry had already invested heavily in Microsoft technology for back office and desktop, they wanted to leverage that and keep Microsoft as the basis for their technology. The key to the project, they knew, was to customize the solution exactly the way they needed. Once the basic system was built, it had great potential to be scaled to meet the needs of other schools in the Career Tech system.
“We needed a solution that allows for significant modernization, and Microsoft Dynamics emerged early-on as the best option for what we were trying to accomplish,” said Brian Gaddy, Business Development Coordinator at Autry.
“We rely on Microsoft for the software — they are investing in the platform and we believe they are building the best solutions for our needs — And we rely on PA Group to customize the solution for our unique requirements.”
“We rely on PA Group to customize the solution for our unique requirements.”
BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE AND BEYOND
In the earliest stages of the project, Autry’s project champion engaged with PA Group and developed a wish-list for the optimal solution. This list was highly specialized to the technical educational arena. For example;
- Tracking – deep insight into business requests and student data, such as grades, attendance, acceptances, enrollment, rejections
- Invoicing and Payments – “smart” invoice management that includes variables such as employer paid, financial aid, discounts/special offers, and scholarships to determine what the correct invoice amount should be
- Communication – the ability to text or call students who aren’t attending classes, campus wide announcements, faculty updates
- Trend Spotting/Reporting – line of sight to recruiting efforts, campaign results, business requests, future business and job market trends, learning trends, professional development of individuals, job placements, certifications and degrees, compliance with reporting requirements
- Educational Offering Creation including catalogs, full time courses, custom classes, scheduling
- Marketing – the ability to launch and track multiple, complex marketing campaigns, to be able to track responses, launch A-B comparison campaigns
- Student Management for attendance, payments, grades, job placement, certification tracking
- Faculty Management – for student satisfaction, education, salary, schedule management, etc.
- Alumni Management – for lists/campaigns
- Community Management – tools to connect with key personnel in local businesses and organizations
- Security – able to securely manage who has access to sensitive student information based on role
- Facility Management – for tracking room availability and assigning classes to rooms
In addition to these specifications, Autry needed the final solution to be easy to learn and use for the end users, so disruption was kept to a minimum.
ENTER CLOUD NINE I TECH ED™
Utilizing the flexibility of the Dynamics CRM core framework, PA Group’s CRM development team customized a solution that incorporates all of the desired items into an easy-to-use, intuitive and familiar Microsoft interface. All the components are integrated directly with Outlook, and all of the most-used Microsoft Office tools are accessible right from the user’s desktop, such as Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. This means better user adoption and less system switching, saving educators time and frustration.
“This solution is a world away from the spreadsheets and SQL server band-aids we used in the past,” said Mr. Gaddy. “Now, we have real business intelligence, at our fingertips. We are positioned at the cutting edge for technical educational information systems. And this, in turn, better serves our students, faculty, local businesses, and employees.”
The Cloud Nine I Tech Ed™ solution for Autry is optimized to help them increase productivity, profits, and model their business for future digital transformation at a fraction of the cost of competing systems. Employees and faculty have access to meaningful and actionable business intelligence, they are more productive, there is less risk of students and alumni falling through the cracks, and businesses can rely on Autry to properly train their employees.
“Now, we have real business intelligence, at our fingertips. We are positioned at the cutting edge for technical educational information systems.”
THE PA GROUP DIFFERENCE
In addition to knowing how to leverage the innovation and extensibility of Microsoffs integrated software solutions, PA Group’s knowledge of Tech Center operations has allowed them to create a repeatable solution that will accelerate customized implementations of Dynamics 365 for any technical education center. They know the right questions to ask to ensure you get a system that fits your needs and build off their existing solution to ensure you have a system that your users love.
“Before working with PA Group, we simply couldn’t find a single system that could manage our entire education center,” said Mr. Gaddy. “The Cloud Nine I Tech Ed solution lets us manage everything on campus as well as do a better job of managing our key contacts in the community and local industry.”