Country or Region: United States
Established in 1994, Rio Rancho Public Schools (RRPS) is a school district in Rio Rancho, New Mexico comprised of 19 schools and nearly 2,300 employees. RRPS dedicates itself to student success and excellence through the school district.
RRPS needed a central location to store documents, reduce paper-based processes and streamline employee onboarding. It seemed unlikely they would find all this in a single solution. Regardless, they sought a solution that could accomplish all these tasks and could scale with the needs of the district.
Source delivered a central location all schools could communicate and share resources at an affordable price. The intranet software for education was able to eliminate inefficient business processes, reduce paper waste and deliver consistent employee onboarding. Now, 14 years later, Source is still improving intranet adoption, employee engagement and employee retention at RRPS.
RioNet Intranet by Rio Rancho Public Schools
“The return on investment since purchasing Source has been astronomical. In one year, we have saved over half a million dollars - and that’s being conservative!” – PETER BARRON | Internet Services Manager, Rio Rancho Public Schools
Peter Barron, Internet Services Manager at Rio Rancho Public Schools (RRPS), sought a packaged intranet software for education that would connect all nineteen schools in the Rio Rancho Public Schools district. Researching and evaluating intranet software solutions, he quickly came across Source . “Compared to the other intranet solutions I evaluated, Source just made sense for me in terms of features specific to help education institutions; turnkey operation, simple installation and server set-up. It just worked,” Barron described about his evaluation and ultimate decision to purchase Source .
Since purchasing Source more than 14 years ago, Barron has not second guessed his decision once. With Source, Barron was able to provide staff with a single platform to connect, collaborate and create, regardless of geographic location. Barron was also able to eliminate several archaic business processes and better align resources for the school district with the implementation of the new intranet, named RioNet, ultimately saving the school district at minimum $500,000 annually.
After purchasing Source , Barron took responsibility of the implementation and architecture of RRPS’ intranet, quickly dubbed RioNet. Barron became RRPS’ intranet champion and evangelist, communicating with different departments and administrators within the school district to find out how they could use the intranet to improve communications, organize resources and automate workflows. When he gathered enough information about what business processes each department executed, he was determined to streamline them by building these processes in RioNet. “RioNet provided a single platform on which staff from various locations and various job titles could communicate and share resources. But the most important thing it did was it provided functionality that let us get rid of our archaic businesses processes that were very costly, both in labor costs and actual monetary costs,” Barron reported.
Since implementing Source , RRPS has seen significant savings in time, resources and costs. Source facilitated these savings by eliminating paper waste, streamlining the employee onboarding process and automating offline business workflows.
“Before RioNet, our Procurement Specialist would spend hours printing hundred-page Request for Proposals (RFPs) and mailing them out to vendors,” Barron remembered, “I thought to myself, there has to be a better way we can do this that won’t be as costly or time consuming”. Barron then converted the electronic RFP documents into the Portable Document Format (PDF) and stored the documents on the intranet. When the Procurement Specialist needed to send a new PDF, she could simply fire off an email to the vendor with the attached PDF. Barron estimated that this alone has saved RRPS thousands of dollars in printing and mailing costs annually.
When Barron saw instant return on investment (ROI) just from moving the RFPs online, he sought out other ways in which he could leverage RioNet to improve processes at the school district. Quickly, another opportunity presented itself. Special Services at RRPS was manually completing paperwork to document the detailed data required for Medicaid. “Our Specialists spend a lot of time with children and most of that time is Medicaid billable,” Barron detailed, “Originally, the Special Education Department had the Specialists document this all on paper. I thought, why can’t we complete this paperwork digitally and submit it securely on RioNet? We definitely could and did.”
Barron created an Online Form that enabled the Specialists to complete and submit the form on RioNet. A designated person would then receive it digitally and have a chronological record of the form.
Prior to installing RioNet, Special Services had a substantial collection of PDFs and hundreds of operational document manuals stored on a network share drive. This was not secure and was at risk for being deleted and unrecoverable, a major concern for the department and for Internet Services Manager, Barron. Barron decided the safest place for these operations manuals to reside was on RioNet. This ensured that the special documents were organized, up-to-date and protected with the Document Management System on IC Source .
“Moving these Special Services Operations Manuals online to RioNet was a huge relief as well as an immense time and cost savings for the department and the district. We no longer had to spend money on manually copying hundreds of documents, not to mention the man-hours that much copying takes,” Barron detailed.
Barron developed an entirely new schema for the intranet menus following Source ’s Mega Menu release. As RioNet grew organically over fourteen years, the number of documents residing on the intranet grew exponentially, which unfortunately resided in a single massive document management folder. This made finding documents on the intranet difficult for RRPS employees.
“It was taking staff up to eight or nine clicks to locate a document on the intranet, which soon became a common complaint. This system had become difficult to use, as we hadn’t expected how well used RioNet would become and relied upon for document management over the fourteen years of having it in place. Before the introduction of Mega Menus finding resources on RioNet had become time consuming and unintuitive,” Barron reported disappointed. “Having said that, utilizing Mega Menus reformed and revitalized RioNet. I reorganized the site and added frequently used documents to the drop-down Mega Menus. It made an enormous difference in usability on our intranet, which is now much simpler and more intuitive. It now only takes staff one-to-two clicks to find a resource on RioNet.”
Now when a fourth-grade teacher needs to locate the fourth-grade math assessment on RioNet, he/she can click the fourth-grade tab on the menu, and it appears under “Assessments”. This has saved countless man-hours spent searching for documents and improved efficiency across the district.
With nineteen schools in the RRPS district, hiring is challenging, especially because every school had its own hiring process. “The hiring process was similar to the Wild West – chaotic and disorganized. We had new hires walking into buildings with administrators they had not met, with basic job entrance requirements left unfulfilled,” Barron reported, “the onboarding process desperately needed to be standardized across the district, so I began to think of ways in which RioNet could help.”
Barron created an Online “New Hire” Form on RioNet and used it as a tracking tool to develop a consistent onboarding process flow. The New Hire Form and Process begins with Human Resources (HR). HR completes the initial portion of the form and once that is completed, the form has a built-in trigger that automatically sends an email to the next party required to complete the second section of the form.
Each stage then automatically sends emails to the appropriate departments as the process/workflow progresses. Once the entire New Hire Form has been completed by the designated parties, a final approver is automatically notified to review and approve the entire form. Impressively, there are over forty stages built into this form/ workflow, which now is completed in a timely, organized and automated manner using RioNet.
Standardizing the hiring and onboarding process on RioNet using workflows and forms was so well received among RRPS employees that the high schools in the district copied it and used a modified version to improve processes within the high school.
“The staff are gaga about the new hire form because now they have one fantastic system that documents exactly who did what, when, and in what order,” Barron elated, “the hiring process runs smoothly, and everyone is on the same page when a new hire enters their building. We couldn’t organize and execute this process without IC Thrive”.
The new hire form alone has delivered immeasurable cost savings for RRPS in labor, material and resource costs. The hiring and onboarding process on RioNet have eliminated completing manual paper work, manually routing and waiting for paper forms to be completed by each department, not to mention the forms getting lost in transit or buried on someone’s desk.
“Singlehandedly, the new hiring and onboarding form/process on RioNet replaced twelve old systems that were both costly and inefficient. If that isn’t significant ROI, I don’t know what is,” exclaimed Barron.
Out of all the business processes RioNet has either eliminated or improved, the most popular and helpful feature among the staff is the calendars.
Barron established individual sites within the intranet for each school, which have each been set as the default home page automatically for the employees of their respective school through IC Source ’s Active Directory Synchronization and Authentication.
Each of the school sites feature a home page calendar feed, which the administrator populates with all that school’s events. This has enabled them to see important, school-wide events all in one central location. And the principals no longer have to send endless internal emails. Thanks to these calendars, the emails, phone-calls, and mail box notes are all being eliminated within the schools,” Barron exclaimed.
“Staff are raving about their school sites “Source's intranet software for education is unlike any other software. It just works.” PETER BARRON | INTERNET SERVICES MANAGER, RIO RANCHO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Another innovative way in which RRPS is utilizing RioNet and the school sites is by featuring a Bulletin Board on each school home page. Principals now type weekly announcements and post them onto the intranet home pages for each school, enabling staff to be informed come Monday morning. These Bulletin Board announcements have also benefited the students, cutting down daily school announcements to one minute to give teachers more teaching time.
The Bulletin Board announcements have eliminated interruptions and extra time spent by staff to locate this information or simply be unaware of it. “Staff are thrilled with this phenomenal communication tool within their school. This is just one more way RioNet has helped get rid of the inefficiencies and old ways of communicating,” Barron testified. The weekly Bulletin Board alone has eliminated thousands of emails being sent and RRPS has seen significant time-cost savings for administrators, teachers and students.
Barron has also witnessed soft benefits with having RioNet a part of the school district from a boost in employee morale to a shift in culture. “We include the Employee Recognition Application on the home page of every school site. Since instituting this, our entire climate in the school has been raised. Staff are sending hundreds of employee recognition nominations and appreciations. As these recognitions are posted on RioNet, we can visually see employees patting each other on the back. One person posted, ‘thank you for doing this on time, kudos,’ and now all employees deliver on time, it just becomes the norm. These recognitions turn into cultural expectation and our employees are happier for it,” Barron delighted.
This simple application has significantly increased employee appreciation engagement and retention at RRPS. Barron added, “Staff are happier, they appreciate each other more and even complement each other more in the hallways.”
As a long-standing IC Thrive client of more than fourteen years, RRPS and Barron has experienced numerous product upgrades, new product releases and is a member of the IC Customer Advisory Board.
“Source’s intranet software is unlike any other software. We distribute authorship and have staff own pages and sites. Everyone is responsible for adding documents and ensuring these documents are up-to-date. We don’t have to hire anyone outside to manage our intranet like other costly intranet software providers,” Barron explained.
A few years ago, a new Director of IT at RRPS asked Barron to look into deploying a SharePoint intranet in-house, though Barron advised the staff and IT team were happy with the current solution. Barron complied and found SharePoint far too expensive to purchase, implement and maintain.
In addition, purchasing support and implementation for SharePoint would be an added cost and may not measure up to the level of support that RRPS had grown accustom to working with IC Thrive. Barron happily stated, “One of the primary reasons we’ve been with IC Thrive for so long is the outstanding support. IC Thrive's Technical Support makes me wonder what other companies are calling ‘customer support/service’. Not one time in fourteen years have I ever experienced a lack of immediate, considerate, professional, ‘going the extra mile’ assistance from any of the amazing IC Thrive staff. It is an amazing jewel in today’s world of impersonal, uncaring interactions with so-called support companies”.
Since purchasing in 2001, the user adoption of Source has skyrocketed, and RioNet has become the go-to resource for anything and everything at RRPS.
During the more than fourteen years RRPS has been with IC Thrive, the school district has managed to save in countless ways using RoiNet. Barron estimates that RioNet has paid for itself several times over with year after year of use.
Barron asserts, “the return on investment since using Source intranet software for education is astronomical. RioNet has saved a single school approximately $40,000 annually just on printing and labor costs alone. Multiply that by the rest of our schools and we’ve saved just over half a million dollars, and that’s being conservative.”
RRPS continues to explore new, innovative ways to leverage their intranet, all lead by the intranet evangelist, Barron, for more than fourteen years and counting.
“One of the primary reasons we’ve been with IC Thrive for so long is the outstanding support. IC Thrive’s Customer Experience Team makes me wonder what other companies are calling ‘customer support/service’." – PETER BARRON INTERNET SERVICES MANAGER RIO RANCHO PUBLIC SCHOOLS