Bishop Cotton Boys ERP system
Dr A Ebenezer, principal, Bishop Cotton Boys School, Bangalore,
talks about their ERP deployment
Bishop Cotton Boys School in Bangalore is a 140-year-old institution.
Established in 1865 to help educate students of European and Eurasian families
who had limited means, it has expanded to the point where its student body numbers
5,200 with a staff strength of 400. We have always been at the forefront of
technology adoption, and were presented with the Best School in Adopting Information
Technology Award by the President of India, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, in 2004.
An IT-savvy institution
Ever since I took over as principal in 1993, I have believed that a school can
excel if there is transparency in its processes. Technology can help us achieve
this objective and in taking quick decisions. Our school was one of the first
in India to have leased line connectivity; we introduced that in 1996. We also
established a connection from our intranet to the Indian School Certificate
Examination board. This gives us instant connectivity with the board. We were
also one of the first to introduce Academus, an e-learning tool, for our kindergarten
classes. Subsequently, we have computerised all our departments. We currently
have the basic IT infrastructure to run even advanced IT applications. We have
used the services of PacSoft Solutions to computerise our administrative activities
such as marks card management, fee payments, payroll, inventory and financial
accounting. The firm has also helped us install computers in our labs for the
junior-, middle- and senior-level sections.
Zeroing in on Lyceum
Though we had computerised all our departments, integration
was lacking and there was no sense of uniformity. About the time when we were
planning to chalk out various options for an integrated approach to our IT infrastructure,
PacSoft approached us with their school ERP solution, Lyceum, which ran on the
.NET platform. The product seemed very promising as it was aimed at a connected
approach involving students, teachers and parents. As we already had a long-term
relation with PacSoft, we were confident about their offering. We were ready
to pilot Lyceum, which is a connected learning solution addressing the need
for a full-fledged ERP system for campus management. Its portal, My-Lyceum.net,
takes care of the need for a structured learning approach.
Although I was satisfied with the product, I wanted my staff members to know
about it and give me their feedback. We formed a committee of 25 members that
included representatives from various departments. The PacSoft team gave us
a demo, and even though some members found it difficult to understand the entire
concept, most realised the value it could bring to our school. The most challenging
aspect of the implementation was change management. After all, we were looking
at changing a system that was established 139 years earlier.
Once the system was in place, we realised that there was a danger of reducing
human involvement. For example, parent-teacher meetings could be conducted virtually
through the system. We assured staff members and parents that there would be
time for regular one-on-one interactions even after the new system was installed.
The implementation exercise was initiated in January 2004, and the product went
live in September. It took us almost nine months to bring all the departments
into Lyceums fold. Another challenge was capturing accurate data pertaining
to the students and staff. Post-implementation, the product addresses functions
such as fee processing, payroll management, student report cards, mapping performance,
taking stock of inventory, library management and question paper generation.
We are also using My-Lyceum.net, a module of the ERP system that helps us make
information related to the school, staff and students available to the external
world. The beauty of the solution is that parents can take a look at the data
from anywhere using any device.
Smooth information flow
Lyceum has helped us streamline the schools activities
and processes. Every student record pertaining to his studies and extra-curricular
activities is entered by the concerned class-teacher in a form given to the
teacher. At the end of each day, this form is taken to a supervisor allotted
to each class who enters this information into the ERP system. After that the
information is available online through My-Lyceum.net. On the same system we
can also upload data such as information relating to the notice-board, almanac
and alerts; this can be assessed by parents who log-on. We also have a biometrics
system wherein each and every staff member has to swipe in his or her identity
card once he or she enters the school campus. This system is also integrated
with the school ERP system, thus helping to ensure that our staff members are
accountable. Through Lyceum, it is also possible for us to ensure that a childs
class assignments are made online. In case the child is absent he can catch
up on class work from home. The system also allows parents to get involved with
the progress of their childs studies as they can track his progress online.
They can get clarifications and information about their child directly from
the teachers and administrators.