Mandated reporting requirements for 2015 have left many organizations struggling to integrate the data necessary to comply with regulations surrounding things like the Affordable Care Act and the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act without costly systems upgrades, or extensive time-consuming manual efforts.
The Technology Joint Powers Authority (The Technology JPA), a department of the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, provides integrated systems and services to 118 K/14 school districts within six counties in California paying approximately 90,000 employees from its systems. With limited resources, they have found a cost-effective way to comply with these new laws using self-service data preparation software from Datawatch Corporation. The Technology JPA provides these services through the Business-Personnel Educational Software Technology and Network Consortium (BEST NET) of K/14 districts, and the California Educational Computer Consortium Joint Powers Authority (CECC/BESTNET Consortiums). San Bernardino, Inyo, Mono, Humboldt, San Mateo and Del Norte Counties are members of these consortiums. The Consortiums have implemented the use of Datawatch Monarch to dramatically reduce the time and manpower required to develop new reports for payroll, personnel and other school business applications to a fraction of the time.
One of the biggest challenges the Consortiums face is merging payroll and HR data to answer a variety of spending and staffing questions. The organization previously processed payroll on a legacy platform, requiring them to print out PDFs of payroll data and manually enter it into an Excel spreadsheet along with other related HR data to run reports. After recently re-engineering their payroll system using Microsoft .NET-based technology, they still were unable to combine the necessary data without manual preparation.
Datawatch Monarch enabled the Consortiums to gain access to multi-structured data trapped in the PDF reports and automatically cleanse, prepare and blend the data using Monarch’s easy-to-use workflow tools and built-in data preparation functions. The organization is able to quickly build new data prep applications to accommodate virtually any information request, and share the applications with more than 300 users in San Bernardino County alone.
“We have deployed Datawatch Monarch for a wide variety of applications throughout the consortiums,” said Melita Crowell, multimedia manager from The Technology JPA. “In each instance, we have streamlined business processes and eliminated error-prone manual efforts, increased responsiveness to business demands and improved reporting accuracy. For example, in just one specific deployment of Monarch, we reduced our quarterly validation of payroll data from three weeks to under an hour.”
Supporting new regulatory requirements
Like most school systems, budgets are tight and resources are limited. And Crowell’s department has to continuously support ad hoc requests for information as quickly as possible. A Chief Business Official may want to know how much a school is spending on maintenance. School boards negotiating with teacher unions may want to know the budget impact of increasing a health benefit. HR may need to know how many substitute teachers were employed and for how long in a given month to comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
“The amount of time we save using Datawatch is huge,” Crowell said. “In this one application alone, we save over four days per month and when your resources are limited, as ours are, the reporting demands would have required us to hire additional help to remain in compliance with the various state and federal laws and regulations that apply to us.“
In another example, Monarch allows staff at each of the school districts to compile substitute teacher data to make sure those who’ve worked more than 30 days accrue sick time in compliance with the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act (AB 1522). The system also allows staff to review healthcare data coverage for employees to comply with the Affordable Care Act.
In each case, the districts and county offices within the consortiums utilize Monarch’s automated data preparation functions to quickly transform raw personnel, payroll and budget report information into reliable, consistent data sets ready for analysis. Because privacy is a key regulatory concern, the organization also plans to take advantage of Monarch’s data masking capabilities to remove or obscure confidential data such as account numbers, medical records and employee IDs easily and reliably.
This feature allows them to not only comply with the Public Records Act and Freedom of Information requests to safely distribute reports to external parties, such as government employees or journalists, it has also reduced their internal investment in responding to these requests up to 75%.
“Compliance with regulations is an enormous issue for organizations across the board,” said Dan Potter chief marketing officer at Datawatch. “With the complexities surrounding compiling information from disparate systems and file formats, many organizations are still trying to figure out the most efficient way to extract the data they need without spending a fortune on new equipment or personnel. Datawatch is the perfect tool to help solve this problem.”
About Datawatch Corporation
Datawatch Corporation (datawatch.com) provides the only Managed Analytics Platform that brings together self-service data preparation with visual data discovery. Its software bridges the gap between the ease that business user’s demand and the automation and governance needed by IT. Users can quickly discover key factors that improve their business by transforming data from multi-structured sources, as well as real-time streaming data, into visually rich analytic applications. Organizations of every size, worldwide use Datawatch products, including 93 of the Fortune 100. Datawatch is headquartered in Chelmsford, Massachusetts with offices in New York, London, Frankfurt, Stockholm, Singapore, Melbourne and Manila, and with partners and customers in more than 100 countries worldwide.
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