Case Study:  Los Angeles Unified School District – Consolidating a Sprawling Bureaucracy in One Easy-to-Use System

If you want to see what serious record-keeping requirements look like, spend a day at LAUSD’s Program Evaluation & Research Branch.  The managers and employees who oversee the development of new programs for L.A.’s public schools are required to track their time and money meticulously, from team meetings to classroom observations to the process of hand-coding hours upon hours of dictation.  Try capturing all of that on paper, and then filter it through several levels of oversight, accounting and bureaucracy.  Well, they did try it.  And then they contacted us.

Balancing the needs of the data with LAUSD’s supervisory culture was paramout.  This meant beginning the project by meeting with all interested parties to get their perspective.  Next we gathered reams of forms, spreadsheets and paperwork to chart the dataflow in its route from one floor to the other and in and out of the organization’s network.  Finally, we sifted the information down to discrete user-groups and datasets, identifying key components, workplace conventions and – most importantly – exceptions-to-the-rule that effected the system’s structural design.

The result was a searchable, networked, streamlined database that integrated employee information and time-reporting with budget proposals and program expenditures to take in a sweeping panorama of activity while reducing paperwork, consolidating data and creating efficiencies among disparate departments at the district’s downtown headquarters.  Sample screenshot below.

fig. 12: image of the Projects layout in a database for LAUSD