Seattle schools adopt workload automation

Faced with tighter budgets and the need to cut costs, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is replacing old VAX computers with modern systems and adding workload automation tools that improved efficiency and productivity.

At the center of the initiative, the school district is using the BMC Control-M workload automation solution and Batch Impact Manager solution from BMC Software to automate job scheduling during the upgrade.

“This initiative is about much more than simply replacing outdated systems,” Jim Ratchford, the district’s chief information officer said. “It’s about professionalizing the way we provide IT services. Through technology, we’re providing increased reliability, better service to the organization and greater value for the investment.”

The Control-M solution has enabled the district to save $100,000 in labor costs, and nearly $20,000 a year in productivity gains by reducing human errors.

SPS relies on scheduled job processing for tasks such as enrolling students, assigning classes, tracking attendance, recording grades, scheduling transportation and extending access to library, computing and other resources.

Control-M eliminated the human error inherent in manual processes. Jobs now consistently run on schedule and more quickly because the software tracks dependencies among jobs and adjusts scheduling accordingly. Even with recent staff reductions, automation allows the district to process scheduled jobs seven days a week. The higher productivity is especially important during peak times such as the beginning of the school year, end of semester and state reporting periods when workload volumes spike.

The Batch Impact Manager solution enables IT staff to proactively identify and respond to issues that could delay scheduled processing. The district’s complex job schedule requires coordination across multiple systems so the right data is delivered to the right system in the right order.

In the past, problems with one part of the schedule would force staff to suspend the entire schedule while they manually searched for the cause. Now, the Batch Impact Manager alerts staff to problems so they can be addressed immediately.

To assist with implementation, SPS engaged CFS Consulting, a BMC Premier Partner with an extensive track record of success in implementing workload and job scheduling solutions.