ParentPaperwork announces the launch of new School Forms module

ParentPaperwork is pleased to announce the launch of our new School Forms module, expanding the ParentPaperwork platform to a wide range of online forms scenarios in schools.

Since its launch in 2014 ParentPaperwork has been enthusiastically embraced by schools in Australia and internationally to replace the paper forms exchanged between schools and parents, realising significant time and cost savings, and improving productivity and efficiency.

Over the past few months, as schools utilised ParentPaperwork more, and for a wider range of activities, they started to ask “so if it’s this easy for parents to fill out a form, is it possible for staff to complete forms as well?”. ParentPaperwork took onboard this feedback, and consulted widely both with existing school customers and others, and has created a completely new module that embraces many of the paper form scenarios raised by schools.

The current system used by schools for convenience is now known as ‘Parent Slips’, and remains the initial product purchased by schools, with the School Forms module available as an add-on at your request.

The forms can be created by staff, parents and even prospective parents; they can relate to a student, or be purely administrative. Forms can move through approval workflows, and notifications to relevant staff and parents can be automatically triggered during the workflow process.

Staff can initiate a form for one or more students, enter information and then optionally send to parents for additional information or acknowledgement. Perfect for incident reports; disciplinary reports; and many more.

Parents can create new forms to send to school, for their current students or a new child. Great examples are Leave of Absence requests; and advising of issues for discussion during forthcoming parent/teacher meetings.

Parents can create new forms to send to school, for their current students or a new child. Great examples are Leave of Absence requests; and advising of issues for discussion during forthcoming parent/teacher meetings.

All the School Forms templates have unique URLs you can pass onto people outside the school. When clicked the visitor can create a new parent log in, a student record and complete and submit the form. Ideal for registrations of interest for a place; enrolment information and more.

In another major development existing parents can sign in and view a complete history of all forms for their children; be alerted to outstanding forms; and start new forms.

Plus data from School Forms can be exported to PDF files and downloaded after uploading a PDF template and mapping the form fields. This is a great feature if your governing body or authority requires some forms to be provided on their official templates, yet you want the convenience of online data capture.

The School Forms module is available now, and we’d love to show you how it can help your school’s administration – please contact support@parentpaperwork.com to arrange a demo and to have the module enabled. Pricing for the School Forms module is the same as for the current Parent Slips – so you will be charged an additional amount equal to your current subscription. Current customers can ask for a proportional price so the subscription expiry date is the same for both modules.

ParentPaperwork’s mission is to replace paper forms in schools around the world, and we’re achieving this by creating a fantastic online platform that enables schools to capture, manage and report data from across their enterprise to improve productivity and efficiency, and deliver a better experience for parents and staff. The School Forms module is another step in our journey, and we are excited to continue to help teachers and school administrators everywhere.

There is a detailed explanation of the key features of the School Forms module on our web site, click here to read more.

ParentPaperwork’s mission to change the world

When we founded ParentPaperwork a little over year ago we had one simple idea, to tackle the problem of paper permission forms sent home by schools to parents. Every parent of a school-age child understands this problem, we live with it every day of term. Of course we understand the reason for the forms, but the practical reality is each piece of paper emerging from our kids’ school bags is just another task to be dealt with.

Our goal with ParentPaperwork was to significantly improve this process both for schools and parents. The heart of the idea was straightforward, create an online tool that automated the paper-based process, and through the use of online forms and a database make life easier for all concerned.

Over the past year we have spoken with literally hundreds of schools in Australia and around the world. We’ve never passed up an opportunity to have a conversation with a school wherever in the world they might be located. Last Friday I had a 2am call with a US school, then another at 6.30am – the joys of time difference notwithstanding, and putting aside any need for me to sleep, both calls, which involved demonstrating our software, yielded nuggets of information we could add to our understanding of customer needs.

Our sales team calls probably 20 or 30 schools every day and we receive a stream of enquiries via email, phone and Twitter, and each and every contact also adds to that understanding.

Our objective of addressing a relatively straightforward problem has evolved into an increasingly sophisticated comprehension of school operations, needs and problems, and we have adjusted our goal and mission accordingly.

Schools are traditionally conservative environments from a business management perspective. The innovation that often occurs in their academic operations is not usually mirrored in the school office. In this aspect schools are not alone – a significant proportion of businesses large and small adhere to traditional management approaches.

The winners in business are the ones who can break away from legacy concepts. Often they are referred to as ‘disruptors’, they attack a market from a completely different direction from the incumbents – think SalesForce in customer relationship tools; Uber in taxi cabs; Xero in accounting software; AirBnB in accommodation bookings. These companies have become what’s known as ‘unicorns’, new businesses that have attained $1b valuations in relatively short periods of time. The key reason for that growth and success is the way they have upended traditional thinking and processes in markets with long term deeply embedded incumbents.

There is now a raft of companies tackling disruption of traditional methodologies in teaching and learning, and this is reflected in a significant growth in the quantity of venture capital flowing to the companies in this space. The realisation we have come to is that there is a dearth of businesses targeting the administrative side of a school.

What most people ignore is that schools are businesses, by which I mean, if you forget for a moment that they are educating our children, schools have all the attributes of a business, albeit generally a not-for-profit. They provide a service, they have staff, they have expenses, manage assets and generate revenue. A government-funded school might receive a significant part of its revenue via a subsidy or payment, but there is still a profit and loss statement, and money coming in and going out. There are still staff and all the accompanying human resource management issues. Yet schools for the most part lag behind commercial enterprise in adopting new methods and processes in their administration.

We believe our company and its technology can disrupt a part of that school administration function in way that will have a profound impact on not just the school’s day to day operations, but in the education of our children, and the preservation of our planet.

ParentPaperwork’s Mission

All of our learning accumulated over the past year, combined with our deep diving on the operations of schools around the world has led us to codify conclusions about our mission and goals as a business. They are simply expressed:

ParentPaperwork’s mission is to
replace paper forms in schools around the world.
 

ParentPaperwork’s goal is to
save schools a billion pieces of paper a year.

We’re going to achieve this by providing an online solution that enables schools to capture, manage and report data from across their enterprise to improve productivity and efficiency, and deliver a better experience for parents and staff.

The outcomes from this are tangible. If we achieve our goal:

  1. We’ll save a dramatic amount of staff time, and staff time saved is time that can be redirected to teaching students. By replacing paper systems we improve education outcomes for children.
  1. We’ll save significant costs from the school budget in areas including printing and copying, paper consumption, and insurances – money that can be redirected also to improving the education of our children.
  1. We’ll be making a valuable contribution to creating a sustainable environment for our children, and their children.

Where now for ParentPaperwork?

We’re excited and enthused by the mission we have set ourselves. It has taken time and money to reach what at first glance might seem face-palmingly obvious, but it underlines the importance of taking time to properly consider the true needs of a market, especially one that offers a truly global opportunity like school education. Not matter where in the world the schools we have spoken to are located, they all share a common problem – antiquated paper-based processes that take up time, take up staff resource, and inhibit the modernisation of their administrative operations.

Take the example of a large independent school here in Melbourne. Some of their internal paper forms have a distribution list of ten people – when the paper form is completed, ten photocopies are made and dropped to the in-trays on the desks of ten people in the management team. It’s a crazy system, especially when we’re told it’s because “they like to all have a copy ‘just in case’”.

Shortly we’ll be officially announcing the availability of our new School Forms module. This substantially expands our platform’s functionality across a whole range of paper form scenarios in schools, and has come about as a direct result of working with our existing customers and many prospective users.

Indeed, our original idea for the School Forms module was kicked off by an email from an existing customer asking “would it be possible for staff to fill out an online form as well as a parent”. We gestated on that for a while, and then a few months ago other schools started to pose similar questions to us about various processes and functions in their school – registrations of interest for a place completed by prospective parents; incident reports filled out by school nurses; professional development requests submitted by teachers. Three months ago we sat down and seriously scoped out a response, and the resulting Schools Forms modules caters for all these use cases and more.

The new module is not a perfect response. We know it will generally answer many of the demands made by schools to us, but it will be a work in progress, like the entirety of our product platform. I know our learning will simply begin all over again as we roll out the new module to schools in Australia and overseas. However, I also know the feedback, ideas, criticisms and (hopefully) praise will only serve to further deepen our understanding so we can continue to innovate and disrupt traditional mindsets and methods in schools, and thus fulfil our mission and achieve our goal.

David Eedle
Co-Founder and CTO

ParentPaperwork is now available in the Microsoft Office Store

We’re pleased to announce that ParentPaperwork is now available in the Microsoft Office Store.

A few weeks ago we advised that Office 365 single sign on was available for ParentPaperwork, along with Google Apps. Single sign on means school staff can log into ParentPaperwork using the same user name and password they use across other applications in their school. The login is seamless and gives instant access to ParentPaperwork’s unique online forms platform without the school’s ICT staff configuring and managing individual user accounts within ParentPaperwork.

Now a staff member can add ParentPaperwork directly to their Office My Apps list, so ParentPaperwork is always available.

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Of course being listed in the Office Store also means school managers and administrators around the world will see ParentPaperwork as available to their schools, giving ParentPaperwork exposure to a huge world of potential users – which is why we’re pretty excited in the office today!

You can visit ParentPaperwork in the Office Store by searching the Store for ‘ParentPaperwork’, or go straight to our listing.

 

 

 

 

The origins of ParentPaperwork and its mission to replace paper forms in schools

David Eedle, the co-founder of ParentPaperwork, explains the origins of ParentPaperwork.

I’m staring at the kitchen counter top, there are five piles of paper lined up and my partner in life and work Fiona is explaining how she’s delegating responsibility to me for dealing with each of the piles. Perhaps ‘explaining’ is too mild, maybe ‘instructing’ is more accurate.

Fiona and I have three children at school – a 17 year old daughter in her final year; a 14 year old son and an eight year old daughter. Between them they also participate in five sports activities including footy (yes, the real one, Australian Rules); soccer (what the rest of the world calls football); tennis; swimming; and basketball. They also variously participate in a range of other activities such as scouts, and dance, music and singing classes.

There is nothing particularly special about our family, other than we’ve managed to out-perform the Australian national average of one point something children per family. Fiona and I at the simplest are reduced to being taxi drivers and ATMs, doling out transport and $50 notes at random. I even have a laminated sign I hang on my study door at home during school holidays captioned “This is not a taxi depot, if you require transport you need to book in advance.

What we share with every other family we know is that we drown in paperwork. Not a week goes by without several missives arriving, most requiring our completing a form and returning it to school or whoever is organising the activity. These forms range from the short (“Sign and return”) to complicated (“Complete this two page medical details form plus one page personal details form”).

Our son was a scout for five years. Almost every week his scout troop went on an excursion – by which I mean they walked from their scout hall to some close by location. And under the Scouts Australia rules you have to complete a two page medical information form EVERY TIME. Which is emailed to you, you are expected to print the form and take it with you to the scout meeting. Of course I was the one who turned it into a PDF form and started emailing them back.

I have lost count of the number of times Fiona has called, texted, emailed or stuck her head around my study door to ask “what’s our ambulance membership number?”. In our home state of Victoria everyone pays an ambulance membership fee, it’s less than $200 a year for a family, and is a darn good insurance given even a short ambulance ride can set you back more than $1,000 – with multiple kids playing contact sport it’s inevitable at some stage we’ll need to call an ambulance to some wet, cold playing field one winter.

Because I’m a smarty pants I use Evernote to hold all the essential information in my life, I even have scans of the kids’ birth certificates for when we need to complete new sport team registrations. And of course the ambulance number is in there – so I act as the collective memory for the family. Hence I often wind up completing all the forms.

Back to the kitchen counter. We had one of those synchronicity moments most long term couples share, because we literally looked at each other simultaneously and said “how come none of this is online?”.

What’s even weirder is we actually DID have the same idea six or seven years ago, although more focussed around the issue of collecting payments from parents as well as permissions. We made it as far as registering a domain, building a few sample pages, and meeting with a couple of schools, however it seemed the world was not ready, as we found little interest at that time.

Fast forward to late 2013 and again we approached schools in our local area and said “we think you have a problem with paper forms. Is this true? And if so, would you be interested if we attempted to create a solution?”. This time every school answered “yes” and “yes”.

So we spent a couple of months drafting a basic system and went back to the schools and asked “what do you think of this?”. The responses were encouraging and during the first few months of 2014 we continued to iterate and develop the platform, and tested the ideas with local schools.

Thus ParentPaperwork was born.

Our mission is simple. We want to replace paper forms in schools worldwide. We’ve spoken with schools and parents in many countries, and every single one has confirmed to us that paper forms are a time and cost burden, it makes no difference where you are– Australia, UK, New Zealand, USA, India, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Ireland – we have schools piloting ParentPaperwork everywhere.

In August 2014 we participated in StartUp Victoria’s inaugural pitch night, and won, adding further confirmation that ParentPaperwork resonates with almost everyone we speak to.

In December last year we closed a seed round of just over $350,000, and now we are knuckling down for the long journey to helping schools everywhere save time and money, and improve liability management, by dumping their paper forms and transitioning to our online forms platform.

We’re excited by the future for ParentPaperwork, we might be building a commercial business but when schools and parents tell us our system is making their lives so much easier, then that’s a great reward.

Education technology startup ParentPaperwork announces Indian distribution deal

Education technology startup ParentPaperwork today has announced it has signed an exclusive distribution deal for India with smartData Enterprises (India) Limited.

smartData will distribute and support ParentPaperwork’s online forms platform into the vast Indian schools marketplace. smartData Enterprises, a subsidiary of smartData Enterprises Inc, a California based incorporation has a excellent track record of developing high end software solutions with strong expertise in healthcare, business automation, web and mobile applications. One of the known names in the areas in which it operates, smartData ranks globally no 1 on oDesk and amongst top 5 provider on Elance. smartData has its HQ in Mohali Chandigarh with branches in Nagpur and Dehradun.

ParentPaperwork’s CEO and Co-Founder Fiona Boyd says she is excited by the opportunity:

“There are more than one million schools in India, it’s one of the largest education markets in the world, in comparison there are maybe 160,000 or so schools in the USA, it made complete sense to us to look to India when deciding on our growth strategy.

We met with Mr Ajay Tewari, Director and CEO of smartData in Melbourne last year, he was kind enough to express great enthusiasm not just for our current ParentPaperwork product, but for our overall strategy and product development plans.

We’re grateful to Ajay and his team for making the negotiations a positive experience, and coming to an arrangement that will benefit everyone involved.”

smartData CEO Mr. Ajay Tewari says:

“The solution caught my eye due to its good UI and ease of navigation and its customizable functionalities help in catering to all strata of schools. With Indians taking liking to web and mobility, the timing for such productive application is a blessing in disguise for the much in demand “education” – we Indians are known for across the globe. I am very optimistic and excited about this partnership which will open doors for many such future alliances between the 2 organizations”

ParentPaperwork closed a seed round of just over $350,000 late in December 2014, and has spent the first few weeks of 2015 progressing a number of international deals such as the one announced today. Since Christmas ParentPaperwork has also appointed its first sales representative in the USA, and started an online marketing campaign into the UK.

Fiona Boyd says whilst it is early days, the level of enquiries from around the world has been excellent:

“In the last month alone we’ve fielded enquiries from the USA, UK, Middle East, South America and Europe as well as our home base of Australia. ParentPaperwork solves a problem experienced by virtually every school in the world, and we do it in a way that is simple and easy to implement and operate. Our cloud-based software as a service solution for online forms in schools has struck a chord with teachers and school administrators everywhere. At the end of the day our mission is to save them time and cost in an efficient and effective way, and that’s a proposition that resonates no matter where a school is located.”

If Indian schools are interested in ParentPaperwork they should contact smartData on +91 172 406 0000 or email info@smartdatainc.net.

About ParentPaperwork

ParentPaperwork is an online platform to automate paper forms in schools. The system manages excursion forms, field trip forms, permission slips and many other forms parents need to complete for their children and send back to school. By moving their paper forms online schools can achieve significant time and cost savings, reduce the hours needed for school staff to manually manage the process and improve liability management. For more information, and a free trial please go to www.ParentPaperwork.com.

About SmartData

smartData is a software business consulting organization with experience in building high end database driven applications for global customers which includes start ups, growth oriented organization (SME) and enterprises. smartData, is a CMMI 3 company with strong competencies in Open Source & Microsoft platform, Mobile Apps. In today fast paced world, its not just about being delivering value for money, its also about being simple, better, cheaper and faster – business approach smartData follows. A well-defined CMMI processes armed by band of young enthusiastic smartians donning the culture of work hard play harder, makes smartData an experience to work with and work for. Team smartData by following right mindset (customer centricity, commitment and credibility), right attitude (zero defect products) and right techniques (optimizing effort than otherwise) is on its path to success demonstrating that its vision of Scaling has a meaning in real sense.

www.smartdatainc.com.

More information:

David Eedle
+61 (0) 419 876 942
david@parentpaperwork.com

Vivek Sehgal (India)
+91-9988400666
sehgalv@smartdatainc.net