New access controls and permissions for Users in ParentPaperwork

Data security and access are extremely important in environments such as schools, which often are managing significant volumes of personal information spanning across staff, parents and students. Increasingly, schools are using ParentPaperwork to capture, manage and report this data, and we have implemented a range of ways you can control access to data and functionality in ParentPaperwork.

This blog post outlines the types of permissions and configuration you can implement with ParentPaperwork in your school. You can also check out our Knowledge Base for further information.

A school may have as many Users accessing ParentPaperwork as they like. Note we have single sign-on for both Office 365 and Google, making it really easy to enable access for large groups of school staff. We can also synchronise a list of your staff each night as part of our overall data import schedule for your school.

User Roles

There are two User Roles:

  1. Administrator – complete access to all of ParentPaperwork’s features and configuration. We’d recommend you limit the number people with this ‘Access All Areas’ permission.
  2. User – a standard User. They cannot alter ParentPaperwork’s configuration (including managing Users) nor can they edit the Form Templates and Workflows. User Permissions can be applied to ‘Users’.

By default, a User has access to all information, and you can use various permissions settings to control and define their access.

Individual User Permissions

User can have their access restricted in multiple ways:

  1. They can be configured to only have View access. They’ll be able to log into ParentPaperwork and see all the information but will not be able to add new data or edit existing data – for example, they cannot create a new Slip nor edit a Student or Contact.
  2. They can have their access restricted to only Slips they created or those on which they appear on the workflow. In a busy school, with many Slips being sent, this is a great option to reduce the ‘noise’ for a particular user so they only see the information relevant to them.
  3. They can have their access restricted to specific Student Lists. By default, this also means their access is restricted to only the Slips they create or those on which they appear on the workflow, as per option 2 above. This is perfect for parent class reps and others who should only have access to very specific groups of students and parents
  4. Users can be assigned to User Groups, and the above permissions will be controlled via the Group.

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User Groups

User Groups can be used to control permissions for groups of Users. You can set the same permissions as for individual Users, and these will apply to Users assigned to the Group instead of the individual permissions.

The User Groups list page summarises the permissions assigned to each Group.

Editing a User Group allows you to control the permissions.

Users Groups and Form Template Categories

User Groups can be used to control access to sets of Form Templates via the Template Categories.

A Form Template can be assigned to one or more Form Template Categories. A Category may be assigned to one or more User Groups.

If a Category is assigned to a User Group, only Users assigned to the Group can:

  • Create a new Slip/Form from the Templates in that Category
  • Access an existing Slip/Form that was created from the Templates in that Category

By using a combination of User permissions, User Groups and Form Template Categories, you can restrict access to information in ParentPaperwork to selected Users and groups of Users.

For example, perhaps staff within school departments can be given view only access to Slips/Forms relevant to their department, while the heads of department can edit and manage forms across one or more departments. Or only school leaders are given access to Forms relating to human resources or staffing issues.

How does ParentPaperwork import data?

ParentPaperwork manages a significant amount of data from schools. This post is a summary of how the data is imported and the various options and features. It is designed to be read by school ICT staff and database administrators to gain an overview understanding of our import modules and processes. For further information or assistance please contact support@parentpaperwork.com.

What Student Information Systems (SIS) does ParentPapework work with?

ParentPaperwork has ingested data from student information systems including:

  • CoolSIS
  • Denbigh
  • KAMAR
  • MAZE
  • PC School
  • SAS
  • SchoolPro
  • SEEMiS
  • SIMS
  • Skyward
  • Synergetic
  • TASS
  • Tyler

How does ParentPaperwork Acquire Data?

Data is obtained by ParentPaperwork in a variety of ways:

  1. Direct SQL database connection
  2. Pulled from remote API
  3. FTP pushed to ParentPaperwork
  4. Files pushed to ParentPaperwork’s Files API

We really don’t mind how the data is acquired and we are happy to work with a school or a provider to find the best and most efficient method. No matter how the data is acquired it is brought into our import system in a common format and centrally processed by a set of modules that handle various aspects of the data.

How frequently do we update imported data?

Almost always we update data from imported sources on a daily basis. We have the engineering capability and capacity for a higher frequency, but we figure a second-by-second update in real time is not necessary, schools are comfortable that if they make a change in their SIS one day it will be in ParentPaperwork the next day.

What data do we import?

At a minimum we import the data necessary for ParentPaperwork to operate:

Students

  • studentId (the unique identifier from your system for the student)
  • firstName
  • lastName
  • className (this will be the Student List they are allocated to initially)

Parents

  • parentId (the unique identifier from your system for the parent)
  • studentId (so we can link parent -> student)
  • firstName
  • lastName
  • email
  • mobile phone (only if you are using our optional Two Factor Authentication system or want SMS notifications enabled)

Additionally we can import further data:

Student Attributes

Student Attributes are user-defined fields in the ParentPaperwork Student record, a school can have an unlimited number of Attributes defined, and we can import data to these fields. Student Attributes are able to be used as fields on ParentPaperwork forms; when the parent opens their form the fields will be pre-populated with the values we are holding. When the parent submits the form the Attributes in the Student record will be updated. We also offer a range of exports including one we nickname ‘just the things that changed’, a list of Students, their Attributes and only the values that were updated as part of the form submission. This makes Student Attributes ideal for tasks such as annual student record updates.

Student Lists

Obviously students don’t just fall into one group at school, there are home rooms, tutor groups, subject classes, sports teams. We can import these to ParentPaperwork to Student Lists so these groups are available. Some larger schools consequently have several hundred Student Lists.

Staff Users

We can keep the Users in ParentPaperwork updated with changes in the school SIS. Generally we are not able to access passwords from the SIS, which means this is only useful in a couple of scenarios:

  1. The school needs the Users in ParentPaperwork to be able to send the staff notifications about forms, for example to cc a read only copy of a Parent Slip. The staff member is not required to log into ParentPaperwork.
  2. The school is using single sign on (SSO) to ParentPaperwork, either Google or Office 365, and does not want automatic user creation enabled in ParentPaperwork (where we allow anyone who is authorised via the SSO to access ParentPaperwork. By syncing in a list of Staff we can restrict access to ParentPaperwork to just the list of Staff the school provides via the import.

What is the import logic?

Our foundation view is that the source of truth for a school’s data is its SIS, so ParentPaperwork needs to as closely mirror that as possible. We are also very conscious that there can be some complicated family situations that are liable to change from time to time, so keeping ParentPaperwork in sync with those is important.

The following describes the import logic we use for each type of data.

Students

  • Check if there are any student records in the import that are different to those in ParentPaperwork
  • If the records are new Students, add them to ParentPaperwork
  • If the records are existing Students, update the changes to ParentPaperwork
  • Clear Students from any Student List named in the import that already exists in ParentPaperwork
  • Update Students from the import to the Student Lists named in the import
  • Optionally – clear students from any Student List created via import at any time, this deals with schools that don’t wish to maintain legacy Student Lists, it’s also useful for rollover at the beginning of a school year when we need to reset all Lists previously imported
  • Optionally – mark any Students currently in ParentPaperwork as inactive that are not contained in the import – marking them inactive removes Students from default views and lists and means they and their parents cannot be sent forms. Very useful for preserving data to comply with document retention policies whilst ensuring the Students are not visible day to day unless specifically searched for

Student Attributes

  • Check for Student Attribute names in the import that are different to those in ParentPaperwork, and create new Student Attributes on the school account
  • Update the Students with the values for those Attributes
  • Check if there are any Attribute values in the import that are different to those in ParentPaperwork and update the Student records
  • Note we log these changes as having come from an import, so we can differentiate with changes made via a User in ParentPaperwork, or a Parent submitting a form, so we can still generate exports of user/parent updates

Parent Contacts

  • Check if there are any Parent Contacts records in the import that are different to those in ParentPaperwork
  • If the records are new Contacts, add them to ParentPaperwork and link them to the relevant Students
  • If the records are existing Contacts, update the changes to ParentPaperwork, examine the existing links to Students already in ParentPaperwork, and if different to the import, update
  • Optionally – mark any Parent Contacts currently in ParentPaperwork as inactive that are not contained in the import – marking them inactive removes Contacts from default views and lists and means they cannot be sent forms. Very useful for preserving data to comply with document retention policies whilst ensuring the Contacts are not visible day to day unless specifically searched for

Student Lists

  • Check the import for any new Student List names, create these Lists in ParentPaperwork and assign the relevant Students
  • Check the import for any Student List names that already exist in ParentPaperwork, clear the Students already assigned to the List and update with the Students from the import
  • If there are Student Lists which were previously created via import, but which are not in the current import, mark them as inactive.

How are imported records are displayed in ParentPaperwork?

Records that have been created via import are shown in ParentPaperwork with an icon and the text ‘Imported Record’.

Optionally, if a school chooses, we can enable a feature that warns a User attempting to edit a record with a popup message to let them know any changes they make might be overwritten by a subsequent import.

Can you prevent imported records being edited by Users?

We have a feature that can be enabled which prevents any adding or editing of Students, Student Lists and Parent Contacts by Users logged into ParentPaperwork. This was developed for schools who do not want any changes to records to be made in ParentPaperwork, rather only in the SIS and thence imported into ParentPaperwork.

Can I check if my imports are running?

When logged into ParentPaperwork click your User Name at the top right and select Integration Log. This will display a list of imports with date, source (for example your SIS) and the number of records processed.

 

New webinars to help you get the most out of ParentPaperwork

Part of my role at ParentPaperwork is supporting our existing customers to experience the best value possible from the ParentPaperwork platform. Often schools will purchase ParentPaperwork with a particular goal in mind, but then overtime they come to appreciate that the platform can assist the school in so many more ways.

My experience includes 25 years in leadership roles, including Deputy Principal in a leading Melbourne independent school, and now as part of the ParentPaperwork team this has placed me in a unique position to understand how schools can maximise the benefits across the whole school’s operations using ParentPaperwork.

With many of our schools now having used ParentPaperwork for over 12 months and mastered their basic needs, the major questions that we are now fielding from everyone one … “Is this the best way to do what I need to be doing?”, “so what else can I do with the program?” and “what are all these new features I can see in the program?”

Schools are busy places and we understand fully that keeping up to date with improvement and new features is not easy. Time to explore is precious. This means that many of us, me included, cling onto the ways that we learnt to do things the first time.

With the assistance of many of our partner schools we have been  adding new modules and features to the suite of ParentPaperwork fairly consistently. All the new feature give you GREATER ABILITY/FACILITY, and SHORT CUTS to help you work more effectively.

We are introducing a weekly webinar starting in May, each will run for 45 minutes and cover a particular topic. We’ll be publishing dates and times soon so please look for our newsletter in your inbox or follow us on Twitter – @parentpaperwork.

The webinars will focus on:

  • Maximising the use and therefore the benefits of using ParentPaperwork
  • Increasing  your staff time savings, even more
  • Teaching you about more features in ParentPaperwork
  • Reconfirming that   your current process for sending a Slip is the best way to do it.

We will cover information for expert users, but mostly  the sessions will be for everyday users and administrators who want to reaffirm their processes, or knowledge of the ParentPaperwork program.

If you have a topic or question you want answered or included in the webinar series please email me at sam.sapuppo@parentpaperwork.com.

Making parent live’s easier – quicker access to incomplete Parent Slips

Many parents will be sent multiple Slips to be completed at various times, so it’s likely at any given time a particular parent might be responsible for completing and submitting more than one Slip.

Email and SMS notifications will be sent to the parent for each individual Slip and Student and the Parent can click through to each Slip from each notification – but that means the parent has to switch back and forth between their email program and web browser. The issue is exacerbated for those with twins in the same class, or when the Slip has been sent to multiple Student Lists which include more than one child with the same contacts.

To help make the parent’s task easier, ParentPaperwork now displays a list of outstanding Slips in two places. We believe this offers a much smoother process when someone has more than one Slip needing to be completed, they can simply click through to the next one both from the online form page and the Thank You emails.

Parent Slip Page

When the Parent submits an online form, if they have any other outstanding Slips these are displayed at the top of the page (up to 4 Slips).

Parents see a list of incomplete Slips after submitting an online form

Parent Slip Thank You Email

When someone submits a Slip online form a ‘thank you’ email is sent to them, this also includes a list of up to four other outstanding Slips.

Parents see a list of incomplete Slips in their thank you email after submitting an online form

Send School Forms to multiple Staff

ParentPaperwork allows you to create a School Form and send it to multiple staff members for completion. An obvious example would asking a group of staff to accept an ICT usage policy.

Create the Form

To create a copy of the Form for multiple staff select the School Form template, and change the drop down ‘This Form is for me’ to ‘No’. Select the names of the Staff who need to complete the form. If there is a file that needs to be attached then click Add Files.

When ready click the Save New Form and a Draft will be created. If all details are correct click the Complete button. A copy of the Form will be created for each of the selected Staff.

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Notification to Staff Members

An email notification will be sent to each of the selected Staff members, with a link to their copy of the Form.

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Staff Open the Form

When the Staff member clicks their link their copy of the Form will open, with the Form assigned to them.

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Staff Edit the Form

The Staff member edits the Form as if they had created it, they click the Edit Form button, enter information into the fields, and click the Save Form button.

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Staff Complete the Form

Once the Staff member is happy with the information they have entered they click the Complete button to submit the Form.

Note you can set up additional workflow steps, for example, to send a notification to other Staff on submission, or to request Approval.

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We’ve updated our tutorial videos!

ParentPaperwork is a constantly evolving product, as new exciting features are continually added in response to all the feedback from our schools.

That also means that we have to make sure that we keep all of our support and help information up to date.

We have recently finished a big update of all of our tutorial videos, which now reflect ParentPaperwork’s current interface. New videos have been added for more recent features, in order to help our schools use ParentPaperwork as seamlessly as possible.

There are now more than a dozen videos up on the support page which will help you with some of the most common features in ParentPaperwork. These videos are simple, basic and understandable.

Here are some examples of the help videos we have compiled:

Often it’s much easier to learn how to do something by watching someone else complete a task, so we hope you find the tutorial videos a great aid to using ParentPaperwork.

If you have any requests for help videos or have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact our support team at support@parentpaperwork.com.

 

 

Archive ParentPaperwork Student Lists

Student Lists are a great way to organise groups of Students to whom you will be sending Parent Slips. The Lists could be the students’ home rooms, the swimming team, the brass band – whatever you like. A Student can be assigned to any one or more of the Student Lists, and you can maintain as many Lists as you like. If we have a live connection to your student management database then ParentPaperwork can be reading any student groupings you might have in the database as well.

We have introduced the ability to archive Student Lists that you are not actively using, but which you wish to maintain for future reference or use.

When viewing the list of Student Lists select one or more by clicking the corresponding checkbox, then click the Action drop and select Move Selected to Archive. The Lists will no longer display by default in the ‘Current’ view, but you see them anytime by selecting Archive from the dropdown in the search bar and clicking the Search button.

 

Customise your school branding on the ParentPaperwork Parent Slip form page

Recently we introduced the ability for your school to select the header and footer colours in the notification emails sent to parents advising them of new Slips they need to complete. The school logo is already displayed in the emails and this change meant the email branding could be completely consistent with the school’s style guide.

We’ve had a great reaction to this update so we’ve taken it a step further, and you can now select the header banner colour at the top of the online form page where the parents complete and submit their Slip.

Click on your user name at the top right, click Settings from the menu, the from the Settings page select Customise Parent Slip Response Page.

By default, if you do not select any colours, the banners will be in the ParentPaperwork corporate purple shade – you can click the Reset button to return to the purple.

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New ‘Weekly Update’ to help ParentPaperwork Administrators monitor usage

This week we sent out our first ‘Weekly Update’ to all the main Administration Contacts for ParentPaperwork schools.

The Weekly Update is summary of activity for the past seven days on your ParentPaperwork account, including the the number of Slips sent, response rates, Broadcasts and SMS messages. It includes a measure of whether these statistics have increased or declined from the previous seven day period.

Also highlighted are the number of ‘spammed’ emails – emails that the recipients, or their email system, have flagged as spam. This is important because ParentPaperwork will cease delivering email to those addresses to avoid a degradation of our email delivery reputation.

You can check which email addresses are affected by logging into ParentPaperwork, clicking your user name at the top right, and selecting the Email Bounce Log option.

The Update also contains a list of the most recent ten Parent Slips you have sent and a count of all SMS texts including those sent via Broadcasts and those used to notify parents about new Slips.

The Weekly Update is a great way to monitor your ParentPaperwork activity, and we’ll continue to look at ideas to augment and improve the information it contains.

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Helping Australian Schools with Back to School 2016

Welcome back to school for 2016 for our Australian customers of ParentPaperwork!

We hope everything is going well preparing for the return of students at the end of the month. If you are a ParentPaperwork customer we want to offer our assistance to have everything organised for 2016.

Setting up for 2016

  • Common activities in ParentPaperwork at the beginning of the school year are:
  • Move students who left at the end of 2015 to a new Student List;
  • Remove Students from Year Level and Class Student Lists;
  • Re-import your students and parents to ensure existing students are allocated to the correct Student Lists; and new students and parents records are created;
  • Archive Slips from last year so whilst they are easily accessible, they are not displayed by default when you are viewing your Parent Slips list;
  • Disable Staff who have left school; add new Staff Users.

Back to School Forms

Of course ParentPaperwork is perfect for all those back to school blanket permission forms, like photo permissions, policy consents, head lice checks and any other forms you ask parents to complete and return at the start of Term 1.

Once all your students and parents are organised in ParentPaperwork, it’s easy to set up these forms and send them out.

We’d be delighted to help you prepare for Term 1 to ensure everything is ready.

If you’d like assistance with setting up your students/parents, and/or sending out back to school forms, please email support@parentpaperwork.com.