Districts adopt online project management tool

As school districts across the nation face outdated tech infrastructure, severe budget caps and increased scrutiny from the community and school board on resource utilization, many are rethinking how to best orchestrate critical projects. With pressures mounting to do more with less, districts from North Carolina to Oregon, Pennsylvania to Washington, and Colorado to Wisconsin are turning to Smartsheet’s online project management tool to centralize projects and improve efficiencies.

The Oshkosh (WI) Area School District, with 21 locations, 1,200 staff members and 10,000 students, struggled to support aging premise-based infrastructure. “We had servers melting down every single week and spent most of our time trying to avoid disaster,” said David Gundlach, Deputy Superintendent at Oshkosh. “We knew there was no way to sustain that environment - from a team resource, budget, or community credibility perspective. We needed to be web-based and it made sense to start with our project management tool.”

Gundlach began using Smartsheet to manage a wide variety of technology initiatives, using the online app to put a “visual face” on tasks, the dependencies, timelines and resources needed for the district’s technology transformation plan. “For a tool that is virtually effortless to use, it has been instrumental in increasing understanding, transparency and collaboration with the Board, families and the community. In less than a year, we have become a state-of-the-art 100% sustainable, web-based operation. Everyone is positively shell-shocked at how far we’ve come in such a short time, and Smartsheet has been at the core of our accomplishments.”

Less than fifteen miles north of Oshkosh, amidst budget caps and dwindling resources, the Menasha Joint School District is also realizing similar benefits from using Smartsheet. “We needed a flexible and easy-to-update project tool for our teams to better manage district-wide initiatives,” said Paul Reed, Systems Engineer at Menasha. “Smartsheet fit the bill perfectly. There is minimal training necessary, and the fact that it’s integrated with Google Apps which we already used, was an extra bonus.”

One of the projects the Menasha team manages in Smartsheet is the deployment of netbooks to seventh graders across the district. The team tracks all aspects of the initiative in Smartsheet: generating RFPs, reviewing RFPs with bids, testing the netbooks, purchasing the necessary hardware and software, and tracking wireless access points in the schools to make sure they have sufficient coverage.

“All project details are at our fingertips in Smartsheet so everyone on the team knows where we stand at any given moment--whether we’re in the office or out on a school site,” added Reed.