Administration, General, Organization, Technology

Top 3 Signs of Trouble in Your District Business Office


The business office is one of the most important parts of any school district. Acting as a central hub for many of the districts stakeholders including teachers, administrators, vendors, even parents and students, the health of the district business office is integral to the health of the entire school system.

It has been clear over the past couple of decades that school districts have been a bit behind the curve when it comes to modernizing their administrative processes. Some of the inefficiencies your district’s business office deals with on a day-to-day basis may not seem like a top priority right now, but if left unchecked over enough time these issues can stack up and cause negative effects that ripple through your administration, even reaching teachers and students in the classroom.

But don’t worry! Educating yourself to recognize these issues is the first step toward eradicating them, and the solutions are often time easier than you would think.


1. Outdated processes.

I want to quickly introduce a scenario that you hopefully haven’t (but most likely have) dealt with in the past couple of months in one way or another.

After the third email reminder that vendor FINALLY emailed you the purchase order forms you requested. Now that you have them you can quickly fill them out and send them to…oh shoot, where do those get sent to again? Oh that’s right, a copy gets sent to each of the building principals for approval before making its way to the Superintendent. But what happens if one of the principals denies the request? Do you send it to the superintendent anyway? Do you have to start the whole process over?

We have worked with hundreds of schools and rarely come across one that hasn’t had some variation of this issue exist within a number of their district processes. Outdated processes are often times long and archaic, leading to confusion that can be felt all across the school system.

If any of this has you thinking about improvements you can make to your district processes, check out our guide on How to Design a School Process and make sure to grab a few free digital forms on your way.


2. You don’t have an answer for everything.

Have you ever been involved in an argument (and you’re totally winning, by the way) and your counterpart says “well you just have an answer for everything don’t you?” While no one wants to be labeled a know-it -all, I would argue that when it comes to your district business office it’s actually quite the opposite.

With the extremely important personal information of your teachers, faculty and students flowing in and out of the business office daily, not to mention the thousands or potentially millions of dollars in district finances, administrators should have a clear line of sight into every process.

Want to know if the vice principal approved the rental contract for the auditorium yet? How about the transportation costs of getting the 8th grade class to and from their field trip to the museum this Friday, and how those costs compare to last year? I would love to tell you that this line of sight could be achieved across your paper processes, but the truth is that implementing some form of school administration software is the only way this is possible.


3. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork!

This goes without saying, but schools use a LOT of paperwork. Through working with districts throughout the country we have seen more file cabinets, boxes and trash cans filled with paper than any person should. Edutopia found that schools append approximately $30,000 to $50,000 each year on paper in classrooms alone. Add administration to the mix and that number just got a heck of a lot higher.

The cost of all this paper isn’t the only issue though. Paper based processes lay the foundation for the issues discussed above, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Without a modern system to keep track of all of the important information filling up lines on this paper the information is often times lost and forgotten. Proper document management techniques  such as workflow software can not only save time and money, but can actually bring this information to life ina way you probably never thought possible.