openStudent Business Plan A Model for Shared Services Prepared By:

openStudent Business Plan
A Model for Shared Services
Prepared By: openStudent Team
Date: November 2012
Version V 1.1
openStudent Business Plan
Table of Contents
Executive Summary...........................................................................................................1
Objectives ..........................................................................................................................4
Introduction ........................................................................................................................4
Section A: openStudent Business Case ............................................................................5
Section B: Development of openStudent.........................................................................12
Section C: Application Operations ...................................................................................23
Section D: Cost Sharing ..................................................................................................34
Section E: Proposal for Funding ......................................................................................36
Section F: Other Sources of Investment Funding............................................................41
Conclusion .......................................................................................................................42
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openStudent Business Plan
Executive Summary
The BC Ministry of Education is currently in the process of procuring a new student information
system to replace the soon-to-be-discontinued BCeSIS. In February 2010, the Saanich school district,
in conjunction with the Common Systems Consortium, hosted a meeting in Abbottsford to address the
major concerns over the discontinuation of BCeSIS as well as the frustrations with the system in terms
of performance, flexibility and cost. The meeting was extremely well attended with over 86% of
districts present representing a breadth of stakeholders including: teachers, administrators, clericals,
technical support staff and the Ministry of Education. The results of the SWOT exercise completed
that day were very clear: districts wanted to ensure that they had a common system going forward and
saw an opportunity to build a custom student information system using the substantial experience, skill
and resources within the education community. The group also expressed major concerns over being
foisted with yet another commercial application that was unresponsive to their needs.
After the meeting, the Saanich school district proactively initiated the openStudent project on behalf
of stakeholders around the province. In collaboration with end users from a multitude of districts, they
began to build a student information system that had the flexibility to be responsive to the changing
education landscape in BC, was in the absolute control of the education community, could
interoperate with other systems, would meet 100% of the functionality needs for districts and above
all, was affordable and sustainable.
The objectives of this business plan are as follows:
1. To seek partners and investment in this project from other districts, schools and/or other
education stakeholders,
2. To review the ‘business case’ for the project; the education and economic justification for
3. To describe the approach, timelines and cost of developing the openStudent application,
4. To describe the approach, timelines and cost of operating and governing openStudent at a
provincial level,
5. To describe a model for sharing costs with participating districts and jurisdictions,
6. To analyze other potential sources of funding for the completion of the application.
The following is a brief summary of some of the key highlights contained within the business plan:
Cost of Commercial versus Community-built SIS: To date, BCeSIS has cost the province and
districts approximately $167 million to procure, implement and operate over the past 8 years. If we
had collectively pursued a community source approach to a common SIS, we would have spent an
estimated $33 million, which represents a potential savings of $134 million.
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Key reasons for a Community Source Approach: In sharp contrast to commercial providers,
openStudent is being developed to meet 100% of the functional needs of schools, now and into the
future. Commercial companies simply cannot do this, as they need to appeal to the ‘average’ user in
order to maximize profits and market share. With the education community at the helm, openStudent
will be continuously flexible, always under the control of stakeholders, built to interoperate with other
key systems and remain affordable.
Springboard to Shared Services: openStudent is an excellent example of a shared information
technology service. By using the same community model as openStudent, stakeholders will have the
opportunity to explore numerous other shared services that will result in reduced costs and higher
Timeline for Completion: On its present course, openStudent will complete the elementary beta
version (core) by spring 2013 and, following successive beta releases, will complete the production
version of the full application by fall 2015.
Investment Opportunity: Saanich is seeking partners to share in the development costs of
openStudent. To date, Saanich has committed $1.463 million to the project and requires an additional
$2.436 million to complete over the next several years. Districts that participate in this investment will
benefit in many ways and will experience an average payback period of less than 1 year.
The approach to developing a SIS that Saanich has initiated is significantly different than the
commercial approach that has been used for the past several decades. The following table examines
these key differences:
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Community Source Approach
• Uses an agile & lean approach to
software development that provides for
continuous connection to stakeholders
• Seeks to meet 100% of stakeholders’
functional requirements
• Completely flexible and open to
continuous change
• Built to interoperate with all key education
• Always in the control of the education
Commercial Approach
• Uses an approach that provides sporadic
connection to stakeholders
• Seeks to meet the ‘average’ needs of
• Has to weigh change requests against
the average needs of customers
• May interoperate depending on corporate
alliances and cost
• In the control of profit seeking
The Saanich school district has taken a risk and been proactive in building a community-driven
student information system. The district supports the project at all levels because it sees this approach
as the right thing to do for education and for declining budgets. The district has specifically not
adopted a ‘wait-and-see’ approach because the time for action is right now. The current commercial
application will only be in place until December 2015, therefore we feel we must commit to this project
and to this approach long before we reach this deadline. The Ministry has told us all that we need to
know: that the RFP process will recommend a commercial application that will cost at least $10/FTE
with no monetary provision for implementation. More importantly, they have also told us that, districts
are free to choose a student information system that we see fit. The time for that choice and for
proactive participation is now.
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openStudent Business Plan
The purpose of this business plan is to describe the creation, operation and governance of a shared
service organization for education stakeholders throughout the province of British Columbia. It is
intended that this non-profit organization will provide a variety of products and services in a fashion
that is simultaneously affordable and flexible, and is owned and controlled by the education
Specifically, the business plan will look at the following areas and where appropriate, analyze and/or
make recommendations as they pertain to the development, operation and maintenance of shared
information technology services within the K-12 education community.
Review the ‘business case’ for openStudent. This section answers the question of why a
community student information system makes educational and economic sense,
The cost, approach and timelines for the continuation of the development of the openStudent
student information system (SIS),
The cost, approach and timelines for the creation of an entity to host, support and govern
provincial operations for openStudent,
A specific model for sharing the costs with all participating districts & schools for the
operation and support for the openStudent application,
A specific proposal & model for obtaining funding from other districts for the completion of the
development & operation of the openStudent application,
An analysis of other possible sources of funding for the completion of the development of the
openStudent application, and
The vision for this undertaking is one where the education community is the primary driver for
Information Technology decision-making and provides leadership for common system and service
initiatives. This community will set strategic direction for shared technologies and ensure that it relates
directly to the overall mission and objectives of individual districts, schools and classrooms.
This ‘vision’ results in the following shifts in the management and leadership of IT initiatives in
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It shifts the current paradigm from one that is ‘vendor centric’ to one that is ‘education
community centric’.
It changes the current culture from control by external commercial companies to one that is
self-reliant, collaborative and inclusive of all community stakeholders.
It ensures that development and operating costs are minimized and that control and flexibility
are maximized, resulting in taxpayer dollars being managed more efficiently and effectively.
It creates the foundation for a shared services model in British Columbia’s education
community that will provide a variety of applications and services.
For the most part, the majority of this business plan relates specifically to the ongoing development,
operation and governance of the openStudent student information system. At the same time, it is
important to understand how the openStudent project falls within a larger vision for shared services in
the education community, and that this community extends far beyond BC’s borders. In fact, there are
many existing Open Education type initiatives throughout the world, and it makes good sense to be
part of and in sync with this large and fast growing community.
openStudent Mission
The underlying mission of the openStudent project is to develop and deliver a sophisticated, flexible,
and fully interoperable student information system for British Columbia. The other major purpose of
the project is to build a consortium of districts from around the province to create a community of
collaboration, problem-solving and knowledge-sharing related to specific technologies and information
systems in the K-12 education sector. There is also an opportunity to link some of these initiatives to
projects that are on-going in the BC post secondary environment.
openStudent will meet the needs of all stakeholders in elementary, middle, secondary, Distance
Learning, Continuous Entry, alternative, Independent, and First Nations schools, including
administrators, teachers, and clerical personnel. The system will also meet the needs of a wide range
of other stakeholders including school board staff, Ministry staff, parents/guardians, students,
International schools, IT departments and related education personnel.
A. openStudent Business Case
Ten years ago, BC moved forward with a plan to select and implement a province-wide student
information system called BCeSIS. To date, over 95% of districts and numerous independent schools
have moved into the BCeSIS application and, in doing so have replaced dozens of disparate and
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stand-alone systems. From the beginning, the implementation and operation has resulted in a mixture
of both success and failure.
On the positive side, districts have banded together in an unprecedented fashion and have learned to
collaborate to solve problems and share ideas. The last decade has seen the emergence of common
data standards and common business practices. The result has been high quality student information
and has set the foundation for comprehensive data analysis and reporting. On the negative side, the
system has been plagued with performance issues, particularly during peak operating times. The
design and architecture of the program is quite antiquated and largely inflexible in terms of keeping
abreast of changing requirements. The system has proven to be extremely expensive and has cost
districts and the Ministry in excess of $167 million.
As we now know, its existing owner, Pearson Education, will discontinue BCeSIS by December 2015.
Pearson’s motivations are quite clear - they wish to win the Ministry’s RFP competition and have all
existing districts move to their flagship product, Powerschool. The basic version of the application will
cost as much as BCeSIS does, and will also layer on top a variety of additional costs for a-la-carte
services such as data archiving and advanced reporting. In addition, it is unclear if any commercial
vendors can provide a common system, which supports ‘one student – one record’, and cross
Common System
Districts have received great value from having a common system. The ability to have a single,
transferable and shareable student record has resulted in considerable efficiencies for districts while
at the same time ushering in an era of unprecedented high quality data. Included in these successes
are the following:
Common Student
The importance of a single common student record across
almost all school districts and many independent schools is an
achievement that cannot be minimized or easily replicated.
Maintaining this concept is critical to cross enrolment,
consistency of data and data analysis.
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Common Data
The past 8 years has seen over 95% of the students in BC
moved into the common system. This has facilitated the easy
transfer of students and student records to other jurisdictions
within BC. This scale of implementation is unprecedented in
North America.
Data Consistency
Years of discussion and collaboration have resulted in a
common understanding of the business meaning for the
underlying student data. This has paved the way for a rich
database of student information as well as for the ability to
design unprecedented reports on achievement and to create
sophisticated data warehouses.
Common Business
The Ministry and districts have developed a common set of
business practices to ensure the highest level of data quality.
Stakeholders are now working together in a very collaborative
way, which has substantially improved the environment for
effective communications. The traditional ‘silo’ approach to
educational endeavors is evolving into a non-hierarchical, teambased approach to solving problems and sharing information.
Consistent data and business practices have led to more
efficient and accurate Ministry reporting. The opportunity now
exists for districts to create sophisticated reporting systems and
data warehouses.
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Integration &
The common system has facilitated the
opportunity for integration to other systems.
Overhaul of District &
School Business
BCeSIS implementations across the province have provided the
incentive to critically examine and revise business processes at
the school, district and provincial levels to ensure high quality
and consistent data.
Exposure to
The implementation of eSIS has helped to create a new
awareness throughout the province of the positive and effective
use of technology, and how it can be connected to student
openStudent will continuously evolve with the objective of meeting 100% of all stakeholders’
functionality requirements. Since the application is being developed ‘for the BC education community,
by the BC education community’, it will meet the needs of districts and schools within our province and
will not contain superfluous functionality for unrelated jurisdictions.
An analysis of BCeSIS indicates that we are currently utilizing less than 35% of the eSIS system. This
means that the rest of the screens and fields are there to accommodate other jurisdictions. The parent
application, eSIS, was created with a common code base designed to accommodate every diverse
jurisdictional requirement. A commercial system is therefore, by nature, unnecessarily bloated, fraught
with redundancy, and cumbersome to navigate. Commercial software providers have to anticipate
every jurisdiction’s change requests and requirements for enhancements. As the system gets larger
and more complex, the code gets more buggy and ‘bloated’. Responsiveness may also suffer due to
the size of the code base. All of these inherent problems compromise our users’ ability to use the
openStudent will be owned and governed by the education community. This will allow for complete
flexibility in making future changes to the application in a timely and affordable fashion as education
needs in BC evolve.
In sharp contrast to this, making changes to BCeSIS, or any other commercial application, is both
costly, time consuming and very rigid. All changes have to be submitted in a detailed format to a
district Service Management Council (SMC) representative who vets the requests and then forwards
them to the Software Enhancement Working Group (SEWG). This group reviews all requests,
prioritizes them and then determines the costs and viability of development. These change requests
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are then sent back to the SMC to review and to vote on. After the ‘winning’ changes have been
determined, the requests are taken to Fujitsu & the software vendor to determine the time-lines for
development and release. Once the beta release is completed, it is submitted to the User Acceptance
Testing (UAT) group to help with determining the effectiveness of the change and to help with
debugging the release. In summary, any particular change request to the system has a very low
probability of being accepted. If it is implemented, it will be costly and up to a year or more before it is
openStudent will effectively be owned by the education community forever1. This means that the
software can never be sold and leave districts back at square one. It also means that the
investment that districts make in openStudent is forever. It should be noted that the province and
districts will have very little to show for the $167 Million plus on BCeSIS.
openStudent has been designed to interoperate with other administrative systems as well as with
other education applications.
The continuation of a common system will allow openStudent to inter-operate with a broad range of
peripheral applications and reporting systems. A common system that is truly owned and governed by
the BC education community will provide the foundation to build and operate other key applications at
a fraction of current costs. Examples of this include financial, library, transportation, attendance callout, parent-teacher appointment schedulers and other related systems.
One of the biggest on-going challenges for BC districts is to have a system which anticipates the
changing nature of education in British Columbia. With a move away from grades and percentages,
the incorporation of 21st Century Learning, and a move to personalized learning environments, the
demand for control, flexibility and scalability has never been more important. The concern that has
been clearly and repeatedly articulated around the province is whether a commercial system can
accommodate these shifts in BC education values and philosophy. In fact, there is considerable doubt
that any commercial enterprise can do this, or indeed has the underlying business motivation to do so.
Many, if not all of the commercial providers of education software and services are motivated by
market share, earnings per share and overall share value. As long as commercial organizations are
controlling the environment, these corporate values will most certainly continue to clash with the
needs and values of the education community.
"The Community Source Model is a hybrid model that blends elements of directed development, in the classic sense of an organization
employing staff and resources to work on a project, and the openness of traditional open-source projects like Apache. The resulting software
is available under an Open Source Initiative (OSI) approved license”.!
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The use of open source tools, common ownership, non-profit operations and a lean approach to
software development will ensure that the overall cost of the development and operation will be
substantially lower than that of BCeSIS or other commercial applications. The non-commercial, nonprofit approach will ensure that the system is affordable and sustainable in the long-term and will
represent a fraction of the current expenditure level. These savings can be re-directed into student
learning and achievement.
Quantitative Analysis of Business Case
Development costs versus Long Term costs of Commercial Software
Like most commercial software, BCeSIS has been an expensive application to implement and
maintain. As of September 2012, the total costs for licensing, operations, support and enhancement
has been $117 million. By the time that support for the application is discontinued in December 2015,
the province will have spent close to $167 million and will retain very little of this investment moving
forward. In addition to this, districts have had to pay for conversion and implementation costs (above
and beyond the incentive grants), and other soft costs arising from a decrease in end-user
productivity. These costs will be re-incurred if districts are to adopt yet another commercial SIS
By way of example of the enormous costs that districts have experienced with respect to the
procurement, implementation and operation of a commercial application, the following tables and
charts will compare the financial differences between procuring an off-the-shelf (OTS) application
versus a custom system built with leading-edge open source tools. The analysis has been done using
the actual costs of implementing BCeSIS where BCeSIS serves as a ‘proxy’ for commercial
applications and the costs for openStudent act as a proxy for a community source project.
Using a sample of 3 districts in BC, the following table shows the extrapolated actual costs of
procuring, customizing, operating and licensing BCeSIS for the whole province.
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The table shows that after 8 years with BCeSIS, the province and districts have spent over $167
million on the procurement, customization, licensing, and implementation of this commercial
Similar to the above calculation, the following table shows the total of all costs for developing and
operating a community-source based application. The estimates, based on actual development costs
and from an estimate of operating and maintenance costs, depict the costs that would have been
incurred had a non-profit, community source approach been used back in 2005 (for comparative
Table 2 shows that, had the province and districts taken a ‘community source’ approach to
implementing a common SIS, it would have cost $32.9 million.
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Using the data from both of these tables, the following chart depicts the sharp contrast between the
actual costs of implementing a commercial system versus a community source solution like
Chart 1
It can be seen from the chart that the commercial approach is significantly more costly than the
community-source approach. After 8 years with a common commercial application (ie. BCeSIS), it is
estimated that the province could have saved over $134 million by using a community based
B. Development of openStudent
(i) Development Approach
openStudent is built upon community source philosophies and methodologies which can be briefly
expressed as: community, collaboration, communication and innovation. The software is created by
the education community for the education community and is therefore relevant, current and capable
of rapid change. The Kuali Foundation, a post-secondary initiative, is a model which can be adopted
and adapted for the BC education community. As we are not constrained by corporate agendas, stock
options or earnings per share, we have the inherent capacity to innovate and leverage the vast
knowledge base in our community. As system and user requirements change, this can be quickly
incorporated into the system as has already been shown through interaction with BC stakeholders.
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The essential ingredients to the development, operation and governance of openStudent include the
1. The project will utilize an ‘agile’ and lean approach to software development. As such, a key
component to the development will be its continual connection to education stakeholders, to
their needs and to their requirements - now and in the future. The approach will take
advantage of the enormous opportunity to tap into the energy, wisdom and experience of all
stakeholder groups around the province. (More detail on the agile approach is provided
2. The development, operation and governance will be non-profit and effectively controlled by all
contributing stakeholder groups.
3. The foundation of the application will utilize leading-edge open source technologies. The
values of community, transparency and collaboration will be ever-present in the development
process and in the subsequent operation and maintenance.
4. The community source approach will ensure that there will be no licensing fees for the
application or underlying database technologies. This will remove substantial costs from the
application as compared to traditional software products.
5. The overall cost of the development and operation will be substantially lower than that of
BCeSIS, or any other commercial application. This is due to no application and database
licensing fees, a collaborative approach to development, shared costs for maintenance and
having no profit embedded in the costs.
6. The application will be designed in a fashion that will allow for customization of the same
module to provide for different requirements amongst participating districts.
7. The application will be designed in a fashion that will allow for interoperability with other
applications, allow for the development of sophisticated reporting systems, and allow for all
future educational requirements for 21st Century and personalized learning.
8. The system will be managed collaboratively and in a non-hierarchical manner.
Agile Software Development
The ‘agile’ approach to software creation consists of a collection of methodologies based on iterative
and incremental development whereby requirements and solutions evolve through intense
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collaboration of education stakeholder teams around the province. The approach relies on adaptive
methods to ensure that the application development continually reacts to changing realities.
The management of the process for developing a SIS in BC will incorporate the following principals,
which are based on the Agile Manifesto.
1. The highest priority will be to satisfy end-users and stakeholder requirements through early
and continuous release of the software.
2. Changes will be welcomed and integrated throughout the development process – even late
into the project.
3. Working software will be released frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
The communication process will ensure that all feedback is documented and incorporated into
the application functionality.
4. End users and others that have a deep understanding of school, district and provincial
business processes will work together with developers daily throughout the project.
5. The project will incorporate a broad range of highly motivated people. The project leadership
will provide the appropriate environment and support they need, and empower them to get the
job done.
6. Co-location and face-to-face communications will be employed to the highest degree possible.
In addition, other technologies (Skype, etc.) will be utilized to ensure that the highest level and
most effective communications occur.
7. The working software will be the primary measure of progress.
8. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design will enhance agility.
9. One of the key tasks for the project leadership will be to ensure that the project team is
cohesive and highly functioning. At regular intervals, the team will reflect on how to become
more effective and will learn to adjust its behavior accordingly.
At the root of this approach are the following ideals:
1. To deliver a robust, scalable student information system (SIS) to school districts in British
2. To develop a custom SIS in BC that builds on all of the successes of the past. The
development approach taps into the energy, wisdom and experience of all stakeholder groups
around the province.
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3. To strategically build a custom SIS so that it meets all current district requirements and fully
supports and enables the BC provincial vision for 21st Century and personalized learning.
4. The collaborative approach to developing a student information system ensures that all
stakeholder needs will be reflected in the system - now and for the foreseeable future. All
participating stakeholders in the province will control the system.
5. The plan provides sufficient flexibility to grow with the ever-changing technological
environment, our changing stakeholder needs, the move to 21st Century learning, and the
need to adapt to foreseen and unforeseen risks.
6. The plan for developing and operating a student information system is both affordable and
sustainable in the long run.
Developing openStudent Using Scrum
The openStudent development team is using an agile approach called SCRUM for developing the
provincial student information system. It is an approach that values continuous input from
stakeholders and that releases frequently so that end users can look at the releases and provide
timely feedback and continuous elaboration to the development team.
This approach has its roots in research that dates back 16 years. In 1986, Hirotaka Takeuchi and
Ikujiro Nonaka described a new approach to product development that would increase speed and
flexibility. Their research was based on case studies from manufacturing firms in a variety of
industries. They called this a holistic or rugby approach, as the whole process is performed by a
cross-functional team, where the team "tries to go the distance as a unit, passing the ball back and
This approach has been found to be extremely relevant and effective for the development of software
which, using traditional waterfall methodologies, has historically experienced extremely low success
rates, high cost overruns and very low stakeholder satisfaction.
The following is a summary sketch of the iterative approach used by the openStudent team.
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Chart 2
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Collection of Business Requirements
One of the key components of an agile software development project is the collaboration with
stakeholders for the purpose of identifying and collecting business requirements.
Since October 2011, the openStudent development team has been proactively engaging with the
education community of BC for the purpose of collecting the business requirements for the
openStudent information system.
From October 2011 to December 2011, several workshops were held throughout the province. During
these workshops, which were attended by representatives from 38 districts, numerous business
requirements were collected.
In addition to the workshops, an openStudent website was established to facilitate forum discussions
amongst stakeholders. The website provides end-users with the opportunity to asynchronously
collaborate on the functionality that they require in a common student information system.
Over the past twelve months an openStudent email contact list, consisting of over 300 members, has
been established to share information and tap into end-user expertise for specific development
As functionality is built into the openStudent application, Elluminate sessions are held to share the
latest features with members of the education community. Stakeholders give feedback on the
appropriateness and the usability of the features. Any approved ideas for change that result from the
sessions are passed to the programmers for implementation. During subsequent Elluminate sessions
the changed functionality is demonstrated to ensure that the developers have met end-user
Over 160 people in 48 districts, including the iGroup and the Francophone schools, as well as the
BCTF and some Montessori schools, have attended the Elluminate sessions. It is anticipated that this
number will increase as development on more complicated aspects of the SIS program begins.
To-date, approximately 60% of the core version of openStudent has been developed, all of it based on
input from stakeholders throughout the education community. As the development continues to
progress and more complicated features are dealt with, business requirements will continue to be
collected from the stakeholder group. Subject Matter Experts for specialized functionality such as
SPED full, scheduling, curriculum reporting, incidents, student achievement and teacher grade-books
will be established to ensure that the right people are contributing the right information at the right
time. Input from clerical, teachers, counsellors, administrators, ministry personnel, parents and
students will be actively sought to ensure that openStudent will truly represent the needs of the
education community of BC
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Staff Requirements & Roles
Human resources are the most important asset that an organization has and therefore lies at the
forefront of the strategy for the openStudent project and for the development of a shared services
organization. In general, the goal of an HR strategic plan is to ensure that there are adequate people
to meet the strategic goals and operational plans of the project - the right people with the right skills at
the right time.
There are three key areas where plans need to be developed for effectively utilizing human resources.
These are as follows:
1. How to attract the right types and numbers of people.
2. How to develop the knowledge, skills and abilities of employees.
3. How to retain the employees within the organization.
Attracting People (Human Resource Recruitment)
There are two broad categories of human resources that are required for this project. These are
‘Business’ type personnel and ‘Developer’ type personnel. Each of these categories is discussed
Business Personnel
The openStudent project and proposed shared services organization requires deep skills and
experience in the areas of organizational vision and leadership, educational leadership, project
management and technical leadership. Given the breadth, depth and complexity of the project,
candidates will need to possess the appropriate mixture of education and experience to meet the
demands and challenges of the senior roles in the organization.
Development Personnel
Victoria is a small market from a technology standpoint and therefore has only a small labour pool of
technical people to draw from with respect to the skills and experience required for this project. From
an IT perspective, the provincial government is a large employer, as are organizations such as Sierra
Systems and Microsoft. Many of these companies attract young people into their organizations while
they are still going to school through Co-op and other such practicum situations. Generally, these are
excellent starting positions for young graduates as they provide a good starting salary, benefits and
exposure to high-visibility software development projects.
Given the start-up nature and uncertain future of the openStudent initiative, it has been challenging to
attract software developers to the project. There is an opportunity however, to attract programmers
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who have worked for several years and have reached a plateau in their current position. The following
are some key reasons why qualified and experienced programmers might be attracted to the
openStudent project:
1. The openStudent and shared services project offers an exciting challenge to developers who
have reached a plateau in their current positions.
2. There are many people who share a passion and caring for education and want to be involved
with a project that can accomplish relevant and effective technologies for this purpose.
3. The openStudent and shared services project provides an opportunity for programmers to
experience the full scope of developing a complex program from the ground up. Many would
not have had this opportunity while working for much larger companies and on larger projects.
4. Traditionally, community source and community based projects are a beacon for software
developers who desire innovation and flexibility.
One of the key success factors that have assisted management in overcoming the challenges to find
high quality programmers for the openStudent project has been to use the services of a professional
recruiter. Although this is a somewhat expensive option, it has allowed management to consider both
employed and unemployed workers. Prior to using a professional recruiter, we were forced to look
only at unemployed workers (through job ads etc.), which represent only 5% of the overall pool of
qualified programmers.
Using the above strategies, the openStudent team has grown significantly in the past several months
and is presently a well-rounded, cross-functional group. The following table describes the current roles
for each member of the team.
Position / Role
Project Manager
Tim Agnew
• openStudent Project Manager
• Scrum Master
IT Leader & District
Gregg Ferrie
• Provide technical sponsorship & technical
• Provide liaison with school district and related
education groups
Product Owner
Debby Davis
• Develop & maintain extensive communication
channels between stakeholders and developers
• Office manager
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Technical Architect
Ilija Gojkovic
• Lead technical staff with application architecture
and development
• Work extensively with Product Owner and ensure
stakeholder requirements are met
Database Engineer
Marc Fournier
Core Developer
David He
• Application development
Aaron Baird
• Application development
Serge Ivanov
• Application development
Business Process
Analyst & Testing
Justin Agnew
• Document key business processes
• Provide continuous testing of functional releases
Report Architect
Ryan Perkins
• Perform research and report architecture
Agile Coach
Richard Huntrods
• Provide coaching consultation for technical
development and testing
Education Sponsor
Keven Elder
• Project sponsorship and liaison with key
education & administrative education groups.
Monica Schulte
• Project sponsorship and liaison with key financial
& administrative groups.
• Design and manage database architecture
• Manage database stability and performance
• Application development
It is expected that the team will remain its current size until spring 2013. At that time, consideration will
be given to growing the team slightly to add more development capacity for the completion of the
advanced level functionality for the application.
At present, virtually all staff has been contracted through the Project Manager’s private company. This
has allowed the project to advance rapidly and to ensure that competitive wages and benefits could be
offered. The next step is to create a non-profit company, into which all staff will be ‘moved’ as
employees or corporate contractors.
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openStudent Business Plan
Other Development Requirements
The openStudent project has been provided a space by School District 63 in the community-use wing
of the old Saanichton Elementary school. The space is equivalent to 3 classrooms and was renovated
to add basic office space and data functionality. The space has been provided on an in-kind basis, as
the district must forgo rent for these rooms.
Communication with education stakeholders is a key activity for the openStudent project. Over the
past year, the team has attended numerous conferences and meetings, and has facilitated other
events to engage a broad and disparate group of stakeholders. These activities have also been used
to communicate project progress.
These activities are a key success factor for the project and will continue into the foreseeable future.
Staff Development
As noted above, it is critical to the success of the project to provide adequate professional
development and team building to ensure that staff skills remain current and relevant to the success of
the project. openStudent has planned a number of formal and informal team development events. In
addition, professional development activities will be organized on an individual basis depending on
organizational need.
Software Architecture
The technical architecture is beyond the scope of the business plan. For completeness however, the
architecture summary documentation will be found in Appendix E.
openStudent Reporting
A sophisticated suite of tools called Jaspersoft will handle the reporting for openStudent. The
architecture will allow for ‘canned reports’, reports that can be customized by districts and integrated
into the main applications, as well as full data warehouse capabilities. A full description of the
architecture and tools will be found in Appendix F.
(ii) Development Timelines
The development team has broken the project into three distinct phases and timelines as follows:
Phase 1
Release Time
openStudent Core Version (beta)
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Spring 2013
openStudent Business Plan
Phase 2
openStudent DL Enabled (beta)
Phase 3
openStudent Advanced (beta)
Phase 4
Full Version Production
Fall 2013
Summer 2015
Fall 2015
Core Version: Includes all functionality related to the administration and reporting for a typical
Elementary school such as student demographics, programs, SPED, attendance, report card and
standard reports.
DL Enabled: Adds the functionality required for distance learning schools and other continuous entry
schools. Will also include functionality such as inventory control, accounts receivable, accounts
payable to meet the accounting needs of DL schools in the province.
Advanced Version: Includes all functionality related to the administration and reporting for typical
Middle and Secondary schools. Builds on the core version and focuses primarily on course based
activities such as timetabling, transcripts and related functionality. The Advanced version will also
contain access for teachers and grade-book functionality.
(iii) Cost of Developing openStudent
The following table summarizes all of the actual and budgeted costs associated with the development
of the openStudent application.
2011-2012 (Actual)
$ 403,000
2012-2013 (Actual to Oct ’12)
2012-2013 (Actual + Budget to
$ 192,000
$ 760,000
2013-2014 (Budget)
$ 1,277,000
$ 1,459,000
$ 3,899,000
Appendices A, B, C & D provide detail as to the actual costs to date for the development of
openStudent and for the projected costs to complete the build of the software. It is clear from the
actual project-to-date costs of development, that the community source approach is significantly less
costly than procuring another commercial application.
C. Application Operations
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openStudent Business Plan
(i) Hosting Services
The privacy and security of student data is of paramount importance and is a primary consideration for
both physical and logical security. There are several models available for hosting student data
however, the preferred options include: hosting openStudent at government data centres maintained
by the Ministry of Citizen Services, and/or hosting at other public bodies such as universities or
municipalities. An alternative model allows for openStudent to be distributed regionally at secure
school district data centres across the province.
Hosting requirements for openStudent will follow a similar path whether they are hosted at school
district data centres or core government data centres, and will scale as required by primarily the
number of concurrent users and secondarily the increase in student records. Core government is the
preferred option as the Ministry of Citizen Servers and Network BC have the facilities, expertise and
experience to not only host openStudent but provide additional services such as performance testing,
load testing, security analysis and business analysis.
Whether openStudent is hosted at government data centres or school district data centres, it will be
necessary to incorporate a Service Level Agreement (SLA) which defines the parameters around the
hosting environment.
Regardless of which model the requirements for hosting openStudent will include:
Provision for initial pilot equipment and capacity for expansion.
Physical and logical security based on government requirements.
The following shows the recommended hardware and connectivity requirements for operating the pilot
and beta testing for openStudent:
Chart 3
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openStudent Business Plan
Regional Hosting Model Setup
This model considers a distributed computing model which has automatic fail-over to other sites
should one particular server farm go offline or require maintenance. This would substantially reduce
and potentially eliminate the need for downtime at any time of the year. This is particularly important if
school districts are going to change their calendar to 12 months. We have seen how BCeSIS has
been down for up to two weeks of the year during Year End Transition (YET) while suffering significant
performance hits and outages throughout each year of service. Interestingly, Facebook, with its
hundreds of millions of users, experienced its worst downtime with a 2.5 hour outage in September of
2010. This was considered virtually unthinkable and yet the BC education community suffers weeks of
downtime in a much smaller system and considers it “part of doing business.”
Help Desk Support and Trouble Ticket System
The incorporation of a user-friendly trouble ticket system is fundamental to the success of
openStudent. Our ability to log user experiences and quickly respond to problems, bugs, change
requests and enhancements is fundamental to our mantra of engaging users in the openStudent
continual improvement and maintenance. The HEAT Help Desk Issue Tracking System has been
problematic since its incorporation into the BCeSIS hosting solution and users have felt disengaged
from the process of maintenance and ongoing support. As openStudent will be based on sound opensource software and rationale, the use of a community source trouble ticket system is fundamental.
RT Tracker is an open source email-based Trouble Ticket system. RT Tracker is a well-tested issue
tracking system which thousands of organizations use for bug tracking, help desk ticketing, customer
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openStudent Business Plan
service, work-flow processes, change management, network operations, and more. Organizations
around the world have been functioning smoothly thanks to RT Tracker for over 10 years. It is webbased, secure, user-friendly, non-proprietary, enterprise ready, configurable, extensible and interoperates with other openStudent systems. RT Tracker is used by universities, large corporations and
organizations like NASA, University of Washington and others to name a few.
(ii) Support & Implementation Services
Because the data in BCeSIS is relatively common with only a few idiosyncrasies instituted by
individual districts, it is anticipated that the openStudent development team will be able to manage the
conversion of the data to openStudent on districts’ behalf. The development team will coordinate with
district representatives to ensure that individual schools have cleansed their data in specific eSIS
tables prior to conversion. The development team will then extract the data via a GDE, massage it,
and import it into openStudent.
Recognizing that not all eSIS information is retrievable via a GDE, the development team will also
investigate the possibility of coordinating data retrieval with the Ministry of Education or with Fujitsu.
Rollout Alternatives
The strategy for rolling out openStudent encompasses three possible scenarios. All three scenarios
will be appropriately sequenced to allow for smooth transition between feeder schools
Scenario 1 is a five-year plan that will implement openStudent in eight school districts - the seven
districts that have submitted Letters of Support to the Saanich School District, and Saanich School
District itself. StrongStart Centres will be converted in conjunction with the Elementary Schools.
Table 3
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openStudent Business Plan
Scenario 2 is a five year plan that will implement openStudent in 26 districts - the original 8 districts
plus an additional 18 districts that have expressed a high level of interest for openStudent and who
neighbour the original 8 districts.
Table 4
Scenario 3 is a six year plan that will implement openStudent in all schools, including StrongStart, in
the province. In Year 1 the original 8 districts plus 3 neighbouring districts will be converted. In Year 2
the implementation will include 15 more districts that have expressed a high level of interest. In Year 3
we believe the remaining 34 districts and the iGroup will see the value of using openStudent and will
opt to be converted, beginning with their elementary schools. By year 6, all levels of schools will be
converted to openStudent.
Table 5
Training Services & Publications
The initial training sessions of openStudent will be delivered by the development team and will be held
in strategic locations throughout the province, the cost to be included in the development fees. The
first wave of training will focus on elementary school personnel, district personnel, and Regional Help
Desk staff. Subsequent training will be delivered in a “just in time” approach as the middle, secondary
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openStudent Business Plan
and CE/DL schools are implemented. openStudent staff with skills in clerical, teacher, administrative,
and counseling roles, etc. will lead the training to ensure its applicableness.
Due to end-user participation in numerous Elluminate and other stakeholder sessions throughout the
development process of openStudent, it is anticipated that end-users will have a high level of
familiarity with the application and will not be coming into the training sessions “cold”, as they would
with an unknown commercial application. This advanced exposure will decrease the amount of formal
training necessary and will maximize the overall training outcomes.
In addition to classroom training sessions, both Elluminate recordings and Regional Training Centres
will be available for users.
To further assist new users of openStudent, on screen help buttons will provide links to a support wiki.
Texts for the wikis will be initially entered by the development team but will be open for other users to
add their observations and ongoing edits.
Additionally, short vignettes depicting the various screens and how to use them will be embedded in
the application to further support end-users who may be looking for technical assistance with
The key strategy with training and help services is to develop services and publications that all
districts can use. This will result in a substantial reduction of costs as compared to the rollout of
BCeSIS where most districts created their own training and help materials. This resulted in an
enormous level of duplication of work.
Help Services
The Help Desk Services provided by the openStudent project will bring improvement over the level of
service currently being experienced with BCeSIS in the following areas:
A reduction in the number of service requests.
A reduction in cost.
An increase in service delivery.
A reduction in duplication of support & help materials.
Reduction in Service Requests
Statistics from the 2011-2012 school years indicate that over 7700 service requests were submitted to
the Fujitsu Help Desk regarding BCeSIS. High volumes of requests for session terminations, photo
uploads, deleting duplicate students and entering program end-dates represented almost half of the
service requests submitted. Session terminations totaled 24% of the requests (as high as 33% during
September), photo uploads totaled 14% (as high as 36% during November), duplicate student
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openStudent Business Plan
resolution totaled 6% (8% during September), and program end-dating totaled 2% (7% during
September). Each of these situations causes a drain on resources beginning with the end-user who
first experiences the obstacle, followed by the district help desk clerk who first investigates the issue
and then is required to submit the problem as a Heat Ticket, and further followed by Fujitsu Help Desk
personnel at both Level 2 and Level 3 who then have to remedy the problem.
The structure of openStudent will reduce the number of service requests by terminating end-user
sessions without Help Desk intervention, enabling photo uploads at the school level, developing a
built-in validation system that would prevent the creation of duplicate students, and automatically
entering an end-date for programs upon student withdrawal.
For district level Help Desks, the predominant service requests come from password resets, account
creation, duplicate student resolutions, Java problems, school start-up and school year-end.
openStudent will reduce the number of these requests by including a self-serve password reset
feature, giving districts the option to have security roles set at the school level, and validating each
new student record created to prevent duplicate records. Issues with Java installations will be
eliminated because openStudent is not dependent on any third party software. Service requests for
assistance with rarely performed business process such as school year start-up and school year-end
will be reduced or completely eliminated through the inclusion of contextual help. The contextual help
will consist of mouse-over tips, pop-up information boxes and links to a support Wiki.
Reduction in Cost
The costs of providing technical support to end-users will be drastically reduced both by a decrease in
the number of issues with the application as described above and also by re-structuring the way that
support is delivered in the province. As opposed to each district being responsible for establishing
their own individual SIS support person(s), Regional Help Desks will be established in key
geographical areas throughout the province and their services will be shared amongst neighbouring
districts. Sharing the Help Desk service between districts will save staffing costs by reducing the
duplication of services and, at the same time, increasing access to help in smaller districts where the
Help Desk FTE is typically less than 1.0. On-going training will also be provided using this same low
cost, high impact regional approach to delivering service.
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openStudent Business Plan
Increase in Service Delivery
Because of the nature of their jobs, during peak periods of the school year teachers and
administrators often need to log-on to the student information system outside of regular hours.
Currently, if they have technical issues during these off-hour sessions, it is not possible for them to get
support, leaving them powerless to continue with their objective. The openStudent development team
will ensure that end-users have access to technical support during these times by providing Help Desk
support on an extended-hour basis. A 1-800 number will be available outside regular business hours
on week days as well as into the weekend, allowing staff to get the help they need, when they need it.
(iii) openStudent Governance
Organization Vision
The following is a conceptual overview of the organization that will deliver shared services to
districts and schools throughout British Columbia.
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openStudent Business Plan
Chart 4
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openStudent Business Plan
Key Observations
The following are the key observations regarding the model for shared services and governance:
The legal entity for delivering shared services is a BC non-profit Society. In the future,
consideration will be given to creating a Canadian non-profit society to deliver shared services
beyond the borders of BC.
The education community represents the members of the society. The governance of the
society is achieved through an elected or appointed board. Members elect or appoint the
board on an annual or other pre-determined timeline.
The organization provides a range of relevant shared services and common applications to its
members. Members subscribe only to the services that they require.
Costs of shared services/applications are shared in an equitable way amongst all subscribing
districts or schools.
Legal Structure
openStudent currently operates as a separate legal entity and has a contract with School District 63 to
perform all work related to the development of the student information system. The company is 100%
funded by the Saanich school district and in turn sub-contracts all of its work to developers and
business consultants. All of the funding consists of a reimbursement of actual costs. There is no
markup or profit generation. The current legal configuration has allowed openStudent to hire key
personnel at market wages and to allow for a rapid start-up and development of the application.
In order to move forward, openStudent will need to form a legal entity that will simultaneously meet all
long-term operational, human resource, risk, financial and governance needs. The following are key
factors that have been considered:
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openStudent Business Plan
The open ‘shared services’ model is completely non-profit in nature and
hence will never engage in a distribution of any surpluses. The
organization will charge members an equitable share of actual costs and
reconcile overall costs and charges to districts on a regular basis.
The organization needs a structure that allows for governance
participation from all stakeholders while at the same time allowing for an
executive board and senior staff to manage and lead the day-to-day
affairs of the organization.
The keys risks associated with this venture are as follows:
(i) Break-Even & Payback: openStudent will continue to attract districts
and schools to this venture, and to the vision for the overall approach to
many IT services. Clearly, the more districts that are involved with this
venture, the higher the economic viability will be. Although openStudent
will be economically viable with only a few districts involved, the goal is to
attract 80%+ of districts and schools to the venture.
(ii) Human Resources: The development, implementation and operation
of custom built information systems requires a balance of business,
software development and education skills in order to be successful.
Most of the application’s functionality will be derived from direct
consultation with education stakeholders including admin staff, teachers
and technical support staff. The task of the Stakeholder Facilitator is to
develop and maintain connections to this large and diverse group and to
ensure that their needs and insights are directly reflected in the
application. The stakeholder group is a core resource for the project and
is largely volunteer-based in nature.
In contrast to education stakeholders, Business Managers & Leaders and
software developers are not necessarily readily available within districts
and therefore will need to be hired externally. Although all staff will need
to thoroughly understand the education context of the software, the skills
and experience in this area are very different and will need to be
attracted from outside the education community. One of the major risks
of the project will be to find and maintain people with the appropriate
leadership, management and software development skills.
In order to satisfy the legal requirements described above, and to mitigate the risks identified, it is
recommended that a non-profit BC Society be created to carry on all aspects of the shared IT services
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openStudent Business Plan
described in this business plan. The society will be governed by a consortium of school districts in BC
which in turn will manage all affairs of the organization.
Purpose & Duties of Consortium
The consortium shall be one that does not contemplate pecuniary gain or profit to the Members, nor
the distribution of gains, profits, dividends to members.
The following is a summary of the key tasks for the consortium:
1. To develop, implement and operate shared information systems for schools and districts
throughout the province of BC.
2. To provide strategic direction to the shared IT services organization through an executive
board that will be representative of all members.
3. To hire and execute employment contracts for employees to fulfill management, leadership
and software development roles.
4. To manage all financial resources and to ensure that costs are shared fully and fairly
amongst all participating districts.
5. To develop and maintain a Human Resource strategy that serves to attract and keep key
6. To advise and represent its members in the development and operation of the openStudent
information system as requested by the members in accordance with these rules and in
accordance with the School Act and Ministry of Education policies and directives.
7. To direct the development of the openStudent information system and approve expenditures
on such development and operation of the system in accordance with these rules and in
accordance with the School Act and Ministry of Education policy and directives.
Members will pay an annual fee, which will allow them to subscribe to any and all services that are
offered by. In addition, the annual fee will allow districts to be represented by a person, or persons on
the executive board. The annual fee will be set each year at the AGM and will be used to help fund the
cash flow needs of the organization. It should be emphasized however, that all fees and subscription
amounts paid by districts will be accounted for to the extent that they will only pay their share of
development and operating costs for any particular service. See Chart 5 for a depiction of how actual
costs will be calculated and shared amongst participating districts through the life-cycle of the
application or service.
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openStudent Business Plan
Election of Executive
It is anticipated that there will be an annual election of executive officers each year at the Annual
General Meeting. One possibility is to have staggered 2 (or more) year terms to ensure that there is a
continuity of experience on the board of directors.
It is recommended that the non-profit society adopt the standard bylaws upon incorporation. Once the
organization has assembled with adequate provincial representation then members and the executive
can review the Bylaws and/or Constitution. Doing it in this ‘step’ fashion will allow all consortium
members input into the decision making, election of executive and other key processes. An important
objective in this structure is to ensure that all districts and stakeholder groups are equal participants in
the governance of the consortium.
Decision Making Approach
It is expected that the board of directors will be responsible for the overall governance of the
consortium and for ensuring that all members’ interests are fairly represented. The board will also
have the responsibility of ensuring that there is adequate and appropriate senior staffing for the
It is expected that the board will rely and work closely with the hired senior staff members who will
be responsible for day-to-day operations, developing new service/application ideas, and ensuring
a continuous and deepening connection to the education community.
D. Cost Sharing
Overall, the costs for developing and operating openStudent and other shared services are quite
low and therefore no one district will have to shoulder an unsustainable level of expenses. Clearly,
the more districts and groups involved, the cheaper it will be for each jurisdiction. It is important to
note, as well, that many of the shared service items could be shared amongst a very broad
education community extending far beyond the borders of BC. For example, providing shared
email, Moodle and library services could easily appeal to other Canadian jurisdictions and possibly
to areas in the United States. At the end of the day, jurisdictions will only be responsible for
contributing to the services that they specifically consume and all fees will be shared on a cost
recovery basis.
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openStudent Business Plan
Chart 5
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openStudent Business Plan
Each of the shared services has a unique set of cost factors as depicted in Chart 3 above.
Stakeholders can opt-in to any one or multiple shared service(s) that meets their needs. Each
shared service will be managed separately from a cost perspective and participants will be
charged only their share of that particular service on a cost recovery basis.
E. Proposal for Funding
There are two types of costs that will need to be shared with respect to openStudent. These are the
development costs and the on-going operations & support costs.
Development Costs
The development costs have been described in section B of the business plan and in Appendices A,
B, C, & D. The following section describes the other key one-time and annual costs.
Help and Implementation Services
The following table summarizes all of the budgeted costs associated with Help and Implementation
services that would be the responsibility of the consortium of districts. Specifically, these costs relate
to the one time set-up of a Help Desk and Support facility in Saanich and the ongoing costs to operate
this facility.
One-time start-up costs (renovations
& equipment)
$ 80,000
On-going operating costs & wage
costs (per year)
openStudent Operations
The following represents both the one-time and annual costs for hosting and operating openStudent. It
is expected that the cost of this service will grow in small steps as the average number of users
increase. Initially, openStudent will use the Saanich location to host services for pilot operations and
up to the point where there is an average of approximately 1000 simultaneous users. As the number
of users increase, the server locations, number of servers (application and database) will also
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openStudent Business Plan
increase. The following table summarizes how operations and related costs will increase as the
number of average users increase.
Table 6
The following table combines all of the one-time and annual costs for development, hosting and
support for openStudent. The most difficult costs to predict are those for hosting because the number
of participants (end users) will determine the number of servers and hosting locations that will be
required. For this reason, the costs are estimated by ‘stages’, which represent different sizes of the
user base. Both tables 6 & 7 reflect this.
Regardless of the number of users (stages), the total one-time cost of developing the openStudent will
be $3.899 million. The total one-time costs for hosting will be $80,000. The total annual costs for
hosting will also depend on the number of users and these are also described in Table 7. The annual
and on-going costs for support services will be $430,000, which represents primarily the wages
required to have support personnel highly available for end-users. It should be noted however that
these costs could be scaled if need be. The wages currently projected ($430K) is sufficient for
supporting 10,000+ users and therefore could be scaled back should the numbers be significantly
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openStudent Business Plan
Summary of Costs
Development & Other One-Time Costs
Table 7
openStudent Development
$ 3,899,000
openStudent Maintenance
80,000 / year
250,000 / year
430,000 / year
Annual Ongoing Costs
Investment & Funding Alternatives
To date, the district of Saanich (SD63) has invested $1 million for the development of the openStudent
application. This investment has provided for the hiring of the appropriate personnel, equipment and
location for the development of the application. The project is approaching a critical juncture in the
development of the application and in the formation of a shared services organization. The Saanich
school district has launched and incubated the project using local capital funds, which has allowed
development to get off to an excellent start. On its own, the district does not have the resources to
sustain the project indefinitely and therefore is currently seeking participation and investment from
other districts and groups.
At this time, the district is seeking partners in this project to participate financially in the completion of
the development of the application. To date, the progress on the development of the openStudent
application has exceeded expectations in terms of completed functionality, and has cost less than
originally anticipated.
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openStudent Business Plan
The following is a summary of the remaining investment required to complete the project:
Total Development Costs
Total Invested by Saanich
Remaining Balance for Sharing
Qualitative Analysis of the openStudent Investment
One of the key things to note is that BCeSIS currently costs districts $10 per fte to operate. The cost
of the commercial application that will be recommended by the province will be a minimum of $10.
Districts will have to pay additional costs if they opt for some of the catalogue services such as record
archiving and advanced reporting.
In fact, the cost of BCeSIS is greater than $10 / FTE. International, and other unfunded students, are
charged $20 / FTE. In addition, students taking more than the normal course load are charged $1.25 /
course. For example, in Saanich, the district pays a total $87,854 and has an FTE of 7,921. This
translates to an average of $11.10 per FTE. Also, the additional Ministry charges for archiving will
increase this average amount for FTE even further.
The cost of operating openStudent is significantly less as described in the table below:
# of Student (FTE)
Operating Costs per FTE
Participation Rate
Savings per FTE
$ 8.44
$ 1.56
$ 5.07
$ 4.93
$ 2.53
$ 7.57
$ 1.69
$ 8.31
$ 1.49
$ 8.51
The significant savings that districts will enjoy when they move to openStudent can be used to ‘pay
back’ their initial investment.
The district of Saanich is asking districts to consider investing in the openStudent project at a level
that they can afford. The following shows the payback periods for various investment levels and a
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openStudent Business Plan
different district fte sizes. The chart is based on the assumption that 25% or 150,000 students are on
the system. This implies an annual savings rate of $4.93 / FTE.
Size of Investment
Size of District (FTE)
$ 100,000
$ 75,000
$ 50,000
$ 25,000
2.7 years
2.02 years
1.35 years
.68 years
2.02 years
1.52 years
1.01 years
.50 years
1.35 years
1.01 years
.67 years
.34 years
1.01 years
.76 years
.50 years
.25 years
.80 years
.60 years
.40 years
.20 years
Quantitative Analysis of openStudent Investment
The qualitative reasons for investing in the openStudent project are very compelling. In addition to
this, the following quantitative reasons are factors that districts should consider:
An investment now will enable your district to be a member of the consortium during the
development phase, allowing you to participate early in the governance and direction of
the openStudent project.
Any investment will reduce future annual fees at a rate of $1.00/FTE until the initial
investment is repaid.
Investment by other districts is crucial to keeping this very important initiative moving
forward. As a shared service initiative, together we will be able to achieve substantial
cost savings in the future.
Most importantly, the openStudent project will ensure that participating districts will
have the control, flexibility, ownership and interoperability that no commercial product
can provide.
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openStudent Business Plan
F. Other Sources of Investment Funding
The primary method for raising investment capital for the project is to approach districts and
independent schools directly to invest in the development of openStudent. It is expected that
districts that invested in the application will receive the majority of their investment back as other
districts come on board and pay for their share of the development costs.
Notwithstanding the above approach, the team will pursue the following options to raise
investment funds, and awareness of the project:
a. Encourage districts to move elementary schools to openStudent next fall and the fall
afterwards. This will provide the project with necessary operating funds for hosting and help
services. This will also provide the project with development funds.
b. Investigate possible grants and other external sources of funding. It is possible that angel
investors and venture capital firms could take an interest in the project if we can find a viable
business model for this.
c. Offer other shared services that can be easily implemented and leveraged from existing
investments (and using current resources).
d. Expand our communications and marketing to include other jurisdictions in Canada. For the
most part, school districts in all other provinces are experiencing the same education, budget
and technology issues as BC. In fact, many districts in the country will be losing eSIS as well. It
makes sense that we could find some willing partners around the country who would receive
the same benefits from using a community source application and other shared services. This
could in turn represent a viable source of investment funds for the project.
Next Steps for openStudent
The following is a summary list of the priorities and next steps for the openStudent project staff.
• Host open house workshops around Vancouver Island and the lower mainland to demonstrate the
software. It is expected that these activities will increase interest and credibility of the project, provide
an excellent mechanism for direct feedback from end-users and attract districts to adopting the
application for their elementary schools. The sessions will also allow the team to expand on how
openStudent will co-exist with other commercial applications.
• Host face to face and other communication meetings with senior decision makers in districts and
schools throughout BC. Present the key elements of the business plan and the investment
opportunities. The sessions will also allow the team to expand on how openStudent will co-exist with
other commercial applications.
• Continue to participate in conferences, regional meetings and other face-to-face events with district
superintendents and secretary-treasurers. Present the business plan and demonstrate the software
A Model for Shared Services
openStudent Business Plan
to attract participation and investment. Conferences will also allow the team to expand on how
openStudent will co-exist with other commercial applications.
• Continue with online web conferences to demonstrate the software and to facilitate discussion with
all stakeholders and subject matter experts.
• Continue with focus group meetings around the province to maintain an authentic connection and
feedback loop with stakeholders and subject matter experts.
At present, BC is undergoing significant changes to the delivery of education and to the assessment of
student achievement. With this ‘personalization’ of learning, schools and districts will be tasked with
innovating news ways to educate students. Along with this will come the increasing need for
Information Technology services to deliver true value to the education community and to evolve in
sync with changes to education processes.
At the same time that education is changing, districts are experiencing declining budgets and declining
enrolment. The demand for IT services and an approach to technology that provides flexibility, control,
interoperability and above all cost effectiveness has never been more apparent. The time for
openStudent and shared services could not be more apparent as it is the only approach that can
guarantee the realization of the above ideals.
A Model for Shared Services
Appendix "A"
Salary & Wages
Location Costs
Training & Communicatkion
Office Supplies etc
Capital Costs
Sept 1 2011 - June 30 2012
Appendix "B"
Salary & Wages
Location Costs
Training & Communicatkion
Office Supplies etc
Capital Costs
July 1 2012 - June 30 2013
Appendix "C"
July 1 2013 - June 30 2014
Salary & Wages
Mandatory Costs & Benefits
Location Costs
Training & Communicatkion
Office Supplies etc
Capital Costs
Appendix "D"
Salary & Wages
Mandatory Costs & Benefits
Location Costs
Training & Communicatkion
Office Supplies etc
Capital Costs
July 1 2014 - June 30 2015
openStudent reporting
Appendix F
Integration & Data Exchange
As openStudent is being created with open source tools such as Java,
XML, HTML, Javascript, and CSS, the opportunities for interoperability
with other systems is inherent. Many of the ancillary systems which
could inter-operate with openStudent include Learning Management
Systems (LMS) such as Moodle, Social Networks such as Elgg, Library
systems, Financial Systems, Attendance Call-out systems, and more
specific systems such as the BCPSEA Teacher Database. Potentially
three types of systems can be considered for data exchange and
interoperability: applications created by openStudent initiatives and by
extension are native and trusted; external open source systems such
as Moodle, Elgg, and Kaltura; and commercial systems such as
Library, Call-out, and Transportation. Each of these systems has to be
taken on the merits of its architectural structure, security, and
exchange methodology to name a few.
Interoperability is based upon the exchange of data such as student
name, course code and so forth. As much of this information resides in
the openStudent information system, it is possible to facilitate data
exchange. The data source needs to be considered on an applicationby-application basis, as does the authoritative data source. In the
example of openStudent and Moodle, much of the authoritative data
would reside with openStudent and be shared with the LMS as
necessary. This could be facilitated by a number of means as long as
security and data privacy is maintained. Moodle supports the
Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) as does openStudent.
Once the specific aspects are determined for export to an application,
such as Moodle, there would be a process for the exchange of data
from openStudent, whether on a timed or triggered basis.
The following diagram provides
interoperability for openStudent.
openStudent reporting
Appendix F
Although it is possible to both push and pull data from openStudent,
there will be a great deal of rigour and security around pushing any
data into openStudent. There may also be a requirement for marks
data entry (or import) from external programs, or entry from locally
developed mobile apps based on a secure API for interoperability.
These requirements have yet to be developed.
openStudent Reporting
openStudent will leverage reporting in three preliminary areas:
embedded standard reports, ad hoc reporting and dashboard
reporting. Each of these reporting methodologies will utilize the
external Business Intelligence (BI) software suite JasperSoft. The
specific edition of software will be scaled as openStudent grows in
complexity and user requirements become more sophisticated. Our
integration plan calls for all reporting to be accomplished initially
through the use of JasperSoft Community Edition1. As the core version
of openStudent will be focused on elementary schools, their initial
requirements will be confined to more “stock reports”, with filtering
openStudent reporting
Appendix F
and sorting capabilities. The system will also provide the user with the
option to view the report on the user’s screen or send to a physical
printer. The community edition includes the following features and
JasperSoft iReporter Designer - the visual design environment for
creating and formatting each aspect of the report; productivity
functions for drag-and-drop design, sorting, filtering and formatting
functions; and integration directly into the openStudent application.
The following shows an example of the iReporter screen:
JasperSoft Reporting Engine - provides scalable architecture to
optimize memory requirements and flexible deployment which
connects directly to the openStudent database and provides report
output to PDF, HTML, CSV, XLS, TXT, RTF to name a few.
openStudent reporting
Appendix F
Interactive Report Viewing - provides a browser-based report viewer
which allows the user to sort, filter, and format column values and
headers against the report snapshot view.
Centralized User Repository - will securely store user profiles and their
reports, and will be embedded within the openStudent application.
Report Scheduling - allows for the potential to automatically run
reports and distribute them depending upon the needs and
requirements of users.
Data Integration - the JasperSoft BI system provides the capacity to
embed user reports within the context of the openStudent application.
Regular updates from the openStudent database will be synchronized
with the JasperSoft reporting system. Rather than users’ reports
adding additional stress on the system by printing from the
openStudent database, reports would be generated on the JasperSoft
server using a separate database. The architecture is shown below:
The ability to embed reports within the openStudent system will be
supported through JasperSoft’s Online Analytic Processing (OLAP)
openStudent reporting
Appendix F
User Security - this will be integrated within the openStudent
application and be based on user or role privileges.
OLAP Analysis - OLAP functionality will provide openStudent users with
the ability to analyze data across multiple attributes and periods. It
will also include the capacity for advanced users to run complex
analytic queries and provide functionality to add supplemental
calculations before the report is run.
Mobile BI - JasperSoft provides a native app for iPhone and Android
devices including touch-based browser support for iPad and Android
tablets. openStudent will leverage this capability by providing mobile
functionality for these devices.
Using JasperSoft’s reporting and business intelligence tools provides
openStudent with significant functionality immediately without having
to laboriously create reports on a report-by-report basis. There will be
a number of “standard” and frequently-run reports embedded within
the openStudent application. There will also be the ability to filter, sort
and create ad hoc reports at a level that will be a significant
improvement over the current BCeSIS system.
Data Warehousing & Advanced Reporting
As complexity of the openStudent program grows with increased user
requirements and levels of sophistication, there will be a need to
enhance reporting requirements to perform data analysis and
dashboard capabilities. Sophisticated analytics will add data sets not
contained within the openStudent environment and may include
external testing data (FSA), assessment data, survey data and a host
of other related information which will support teaching and learning
processes that will effectvely enhance student achievement.
This will require the creation of a data warehouse to support the
aggregation of data while enabling advanced ad hoc reports,
dashboarding, analysis, analytics, archival functionality, data mining
and other services. Data sources, with openStudent being the first, will
export data through a process called Extraction Transformation
Loading (ETL) to the data warehouse which is architected to aggregate
openStudent reporting
Appendix F
raw data into metadata and summary data which can then be indexed
and accessed by authenticated users for OLAP analysis, reporting and
data mining. The following diagram outlines the broad data warehouse
The JasperSoft Enterprise Business Intelligence Suite offers significant
data warehouse reporting capabilities which are a logical extension
from the BI Community Edition. As data is generated from
openStudent it will be added to a customized data warehouse created
through a customized modern open source tools such as Apache
Hadoop2 which will aggregate data from openStudent and other data
sources. Data input to the data warehouse will provide opportunities
for historical, analytical and customized views aggregated across the
warehouse. The data warehouse will provide sophisticated data mining
capacity allowing educators and researchers to ask questions, which
openStudent reporting
Appendix F
we have not had the capacity to ask, even with a common student
information system such as BCeSIS. The data warehouse will provide
historical, analytical, trend and other forms of analysis not previously
available across districts and the province.
The enterprise version of JasperSoft will provide the following
additional features to those of the Community Edition:
Audit Logging - active recording of report, dashboard, and analytical
view usage for the purposes of audit tracking and performance
Multi-tenancy - provides permission and access rules
openStudent maintains the security and privacy for users.
In-Memory Analysis - will provide functionality for the analysis of
relational and non-relational data, including access to the data
warehouse making available interactive tools which offer: pivoting,
filtering, drill down, charting, custom calculations - all designed to
optimize performance.
Metadata Layer - provides a virtual view of the data warehouse which
simplifies the presentation in business terms while providing security
and privacy.
Ad Hoc Report Designer - the Ad Hoc report designer provides
additional functionality to the iReporter module and allows for drag
and drop report design for non-technical users.
Dashboards - are a collection of interactive reports, charts, input
controls, and web content in a single integrated view. The following
shows an example of the customizable dashboard available to
openStudent users:
openStudent reporting
Appendix F
The use of JasperSoft Enterprise Edition with access to the data
warehouse will provide users with real-time reporting capabilities. One
of the significant drawbacks to the current system is its use of the
active database to combine data entry and simultaneous reporting. At
peak times this has caused system performance to drop dramatically
and even crash. The combination of ETL, the Data Warehouse and the
JasperSoft reporting system should maximize performance and greatly
improve accessibility issues.