Supporting over 170 schools with varied needs
Brisbane Catholic Education provides services, programs, and resources to 146 schools in South East Queensland, along with 30 schools in the Diocese of Cairns.
With its recent digital strategy, BCE hopes to better engage and support students, teachers, and staff members as technological change continues to accelerate.
Leigh Williams, BCE’s Chief Information Officer and Head of Information Technology Services says IT is about how we can continue to enable transformation and improve teaching and learning outcomes.
The organisation used Microsoft Dynamics to run its on-premises enterprise resource planning (ERP) finance and operations programme from 2008 onwards.
In spite of the fact that it had become highly customised and difficult to maintain and enhance, this legacy system was used.
According to BCE’s Manager of Business Information Services, Kerry Edwards-Williams the organisation was also experiencing data inconsistencies and dysfunctional processes
“Your experience with that system in one school could be very different from your experience in another school.” says Edwards-Williams
On-premise system straight to the cloud configuration
Beginning in 2021, BCG decided to upgrade from Dynamics AX 2012 to Dynamics 365 Finance. However, rather than migrating its on-premises system straight to the cloud, the organisation embarked on a major reimplementation effort.
Edwards-Williams explains going right back to the bones of what the system could do and how we could configure it to meet all of BCE’s needs.
“There are a wide variety of schools in our system, ranging from tiny schools in remote areas to large schools with 150 employees and complex operations.”
“To handle this level of complexity, BCE needed to ensure that its new cloud-based software-as-a-service solution was large enough and scalable enough.”
Edwards-Williams explains describes how her organisation’s approach to setting up Dynamics 365 was quite distinct from other systems in that it concerned financial delegation and management emphasising that adequate fiscal supervision was required on a school-by-school basis.
“We had to set up individual instances of Dynamics 365 for every school, as well as for us as an office,” she said
In just eight months, Microsoft FastTrack and Empired’s Microsoft-assisted finance and operations system was installed across 177 entities.
Because of the help we received from FastTrack, we were able to quickly get assistance when we needed it most,” says Edwards-Williams.
“We were able to get advice on how to proceed and how to solve problems as we went along. The Empired team was excellent and a wonderful cultural fit for us. They were critical to our group’s success.”
Microsoft Teams was also utilised in the deployment, in addition to Azure DevOps.
The Azure DevOps allowed BCE’s IT team to operate in separate areas and minimise the threat of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Quality assurance & consistency
The revamped finance and operations procedure has already provided several advantages.
Edwards-Williams says the project has helped us clean up business processes across the company. People like the new experience of the program.
“It has a much nicer and more modern-looking user interface. It has also allowed us to standardise processes across all of our schools, from big to small.” she said
BCE has seen a dramatic improvement in data quality, which is now being fed into Microsoft PowerBI
“We are achieving consistency and quality in our reporting and insights,” says Edwards-Williams.
“Previously, all schools used different procedures, requiring a lot of manual manipulation by our finance team to report, but now we compare apples with apples.”
With the help of Microsoft PowerBI, BCE has been able to standardise processes across all schools, both large and small. Because of this, the organisation has noticed a significant improvement in the quality of its data, which is now being fed into PowerBI.
Edwards-Williams says that we are now reporting consistently and reliably. Because we are comparing apples with apples rather than reporting on all schools’ different processes, our finance team has less work to do, she says.
Because the on-premise system at BCE is no longer at risk from natural disasters such as floods and bushfires, moving to the cloud has also reduced business risk.
According to Lisa Camus, Portfolio Manager at BCE, the firm’s solution has improved employee productivity by giving employees a more flexible and secure working environment.
“Employees have been more productive thanks to the solution’s ability to keep their system secure and the fact that the responsibility does not solely rest on the company.”
“Because we have a diverse workforce now, and because we have had to go into lockdown, we’re much more comfortable using cloud-based products and Microsoft products that can be securely managed,” says Camus.