Neola is excited to announce our new BoardDocs based policy editing and publishing platform. This new web platform will allow districts to edit, process, publish, and share policies in one place. The platform promises faster turnaround time, better collaboration, and an evolving set of tools to help districts with their policy needs.
Neola understands that in today’s “real time” era our current system of processing is unable to meet our expectations and, more importantly the expectations of our clients. We have made a slow, evolutionary progress toward faster processing, but we need a revolutionary approach to take our service to the next level. Neola is a policy company first and foremost, so we have enlisted the help of Emerald Data Solutions, the BoardDocs people. They are working with us on a web-based collaboration and publishing platform tailored to our needs.
We have prepared a Q&A below to help answer many of your questions. Any additional questions, concerns or suggestions should be directed to our Director of Operations, Scott Westhoven at 330-926-0514 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Again, thank you for being part of the Neola family.
Richard Clapp, Ph.D.
- What is the timeline for this project?
We have invited a small group of Wisconsin clients who already subscribe to and are therefore familiar with BoardDocs to take part in the next beta-test phase of our development this spring. The goal is to begin the transition (migration?) to the new platform for all clients during the 2016-17 school year, and for all clients who provide online access to their materials currently to have those materials published on the new platform by 2017-18.
- What exactly is this new policy platform?
Neola currently uses several systems to manage, edit, and publish policies. Our new system will be using the BoardDocs web platform to accomplish all of these tasks in one system. Clients who choose to provide Internet access to their materials for their staff and constituents and to work online on revisions and additions to their materials will have a public site for viewing published policies and a secure login to a console on this platform where they receive and edit update materials that are received from Neola. Using this secure console, clients will be able to collaborate internally on documents and will also be able to collaborate with Neola associates on updating policies. Simply put, it will be an one-stop shop for receiving materials, editing content and digitally publishing adopted or approved district material.
- How will it benefit my district?
The new platform will dramatically reduce the time required to revise and post policies on the district website. It currently takes an average of six weeks for Board-approved changes to be posted. The new platform will reduce the turnaround time to a few days. In this “real time” era, school districts and citizens expect more efficiency without sacrificing care and deliberation.
In addition, the new process will streamline the editing and publishing process, simplifying the way of work for those involved and reducing the amount of staff time that the current process requires. This system will also enable us to continue to introduce new tools and features to better protect our clients from outdated policies.
Districts that use BoardDocs as their e-governance solution will be able to easily access and review policy content from their District’s BoardDocs console.
- Will it cost my district more?
The BoardDocs platform will replace our current strategy to edit policy using the VPN and our online publishing system. We will not charge clients an additional fee to use the new BoardDocs platform.
However, to take full advantage of all the features for online editing and collaboration available through this new platform, clients need to subscribe to our online publishing service.
If a client only publishes their material in hard copy and does not use our online publishing platform, the district will still be able to use Neola’s service, but will not receive any of the benefits of the BoardDocs platform.
The need to keep the cost for our services affordable, Neola has made a concerted effort to minimize price increases. We will continue our effort to minimize the impact of this new service with our previously planned price increase, which will be announced later this year.
We view this move to BoardDocs as a necessary move to ensure quality service to our clients. Our existing digital publishing platform has served Neola and our nearly fourteen hundred clients more then twenty years; however, Microsoft has announced that it will no longer support the server software that our current program is built upon.
Our move to BoardDocs will enable us to be ready before the change is required. Importantly, this move to BoardDocs will provide us with a platform that will enable us to improve our existing services for many years to come.
- How was it developed, and by whom?
Nearly 10 years ago, Dr. Clapp, Neola’s CEO, and Ari Ionnides, the founder of BoardDocs, discussed their shared vision of a platform that would enable digital policy collaboration. Two years ago, Emerald Data Solutions, the Georgia-based software company behind BoardDocs, the highly regarded e-governance platform that many of our clients already use, introduced a new platform that enabled the vision to become reality. BoardDocs was willing to modify their platform so that it would support the process upon which Neola relies in its work with the districts we serve. Neola and Emerald Data Solutions continue to work closely to refine the software.
- Do I need to be a BoardDocs subscriber to use this service?
Neola’s policy editing platform on BoardDocs will work as a stand-alone service offered through Neola. Current BoardDocs subscribers will have a completely integrated system that will work seamlessly with their BoardDocs e-governance platform.
- How will the new platform change the way of we work?
We are working hard to make sure that the way policy work is done will not change, unless it is for the better. Clients will still receive an update packet with all the same content as they do currently, but now it will be in BoardDocs. Clients will still meet with their Neola associate, but they will be able to work on the web platform together to complete an update. Adopted documents will be sent through BoardDocs to our production office for cleanup and publishing. Policies will be published on BoardDocs, instead of a separate Neola website.
- Will training be provided?
Absolutely. Neola will be with you every step of the way. The good news is that your learning curve should not be too steep, as the new web tools are similar to the ones in Microsoft Word that many clients already use. Training groups and resources will be made available to districts, as well as training and phone support.
- When it’s my district’s turn to move to the new platform, what should our staff expect?
The transition to BoardDocs will mostly be done behind the scenes. When Neola is ready to move each state we will begin providing training for the clients. The transition will most likely coincide with an update visit, at which time the associate will work with the client to complete an update; the website will change to the BoardDocs site. Individual districts will be advised and informed well in advance of training sessions and before the new platform goes “live.”
- I have questions – with whom can I talk?