Robert Sanders, Senior I&T Project Manager at Broward County Public Schools, knew evaluating and implementing a visitor management solution would be an immense project. With over 250 campuses, ever-growing departments and buildings spread across a vast geographical area, thousands of staff to train, and increased scrutiny, Robert was familiar with the unique challenges a district-wide implementation would have—but no one was familiar with how COVID-19 would amplify those challenges.
In a recent webinar, Robert shared his experience implementing Raptor Visitor Management in a matter of weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Katelyn Warnock, Professional Services Manager at Raptor Technologies, also shared the top 3 best practices we have gained from implementing our solutions at nearly 50% of the largest districts in the U.S. Below are key highlights from the webinar. You can listen to the full conversation here.
Interview with Broward County Public Schools
Evaluating School Safety Solutions
Katelyn: Can you tell us about your evaluation criteria?
Robert: The evaluation period for anything we do—especially something of this magnitude and importance—is extensive. We anticipated an unsteady fall semester, and having a visitor, student, staff, volunteer, and contractor tracking system felt like an important component to our preparedness.
One of the core reasons we chose Raptor is because of how well-known the company is. We asked other districts how the system is working at their schools and that insight put our minds at ease. Another core reason was the ability to connect through Active Directory and being able to maintain the associated permissions easily. That was an important priority to the district.
Implementing District-Wide School Safety Solutions
Katelyn: You have over 250 schools in your district. How did you and your team implement Raptor Visitor Management in a matter of weeks despite there being a pandemic?
Robert: We were determined the system had to be in place prior to school starting. Clear communication across all departments was critical. It is easy to think this is an IT-only initiative, but this project had to go through the appropriate executive leadership. Through a central communication hub, we stayed in contact with every stakeholder, ensuring that nobody was unaware or nervous about the project. Raptor being available through Microsoft Teams at a moment’s notice also just made it so easy. The main reason we had executive buy–in is because we had such strong support coming from Raptor. Raptor was clear, knowledgeable, adaptable, and involved every step of the way.
Remotely Training Thousands of Staff
Katelyn: COVID-19 caused us to completely pivot and rethink our original training and implementation approach: we had to figure out the best way to remotely empower someone—regardless of their technical proficiency—to use the system and install the hardware. What were the different components of your training program that you think was the most valuable to your end users?
Robert: Knowing people learn differently and have various levels of computer knowledge, we were nervous that we could not do in-person training because of COVID-19. Raptor put our minds at ease very quickly. As opposed to relying only on paper manuals, our teachers and staff had access to videos, webinars, and various documents that clearly walked through each step of the system and hardware installation.
Advice for Other Large Districts
Katelyn: Looking back on your implementation process, what advice would you give to other big districts, given what you have experienced the last couple of months?
Robert: Districts must be ready to adapt, have strong communication, and executive support. Having that support is going to help the project succeed. Regarding communication with the vendor, we were able to send questions and receive answers within 10-20 minutes. Raptor also provides a project dashboard that shows exactly what our implementation status is in real-time. We tested a few schools in early July before implementing district-wide. This was a collaborative project and Raptor was able to make updates to the material if we discovered something needed to be clarified. Another important item is to centralize your district-wide activity, so you can easily make reports instead of having to reach out to multiple schools and staff members for data.
Top 3 Best Implementation Practices
Raptor has implemented our solutions at over 32,000 K-12 schools. With 18+ years of project management, we have learned what is needed to be successful—and we are able to help any client regardless of size overcome implementation challenges. Best practices include:
- Executive Support: Successful implementation starts with strong executive support. From making decisions on policies and procedures to developing a training plan, the Executive Sponsor is the person within the district responsible for the overall success of the project. Their role includes establishing clear priorities—such as how many products or schools to implement simultaneously—so Raptor can customize the implementation to meet the district’s needs. Clear internal and external communication—something the Executive Sponsor can drive—is also imperative.
- Cross-Departmental Alignment: Clearly defined roles and responsibilities for the entire implementation team helps the implementation stay on track. Knowing there are multiple departments that need to be trained—including your safety team to your front office staff—means each department needs to be aligned on training plans, as well as on the policies and procedures. These policies and procedures are the foundation of which the entire implementation is built. Alignment ensures long-term success.
- Customization: Every district has different priorities, procedures, and challenges. Customizing your training and implementation program to best fit your needs is critical.
Raptor knows the best school safety and emergency plans involve precise coordination among people, processes, and technology. That’s why the Raptor team will advise you on proven practices and protocols and guide you through implementation from beginning to end. To learn more, contact us today to set up a personalized demo.