The Diocese of Fresno covers 38,000 miles across central California, with 21 schools ranging from pre-k through high school. With nearly 650 faculty and staff, they knew they faced a challenge when seeking a data management solution that would work for their entire community. Today, they’re a streamlined, unified diocese with efficient tech solutions both faculty and families enjoy. Keep reading to learn how they worked with FACTS to create diocese-wide success.

Unique Challenges

The diocese realized it was time for a change after serious inefficiencies became apparent. Joan Bouchard, Superintendent of Catholic Schools at the Diocese of Fresno, explains that whenever anyone needed to pull national, state, or immunization reporting, it took far too long. “Each school had their own system. There were probably seven different student information systems being used across the different schools, and none of them talked to each other and none talked to us,” she states.

Bouchard describes the diocese’s challenge as twofold: accessibility and information. With their old system, their Office Manager was reaching out to each school for information, following up on missing data, and condensing multiple formats into one cohesive document. They were also missing out on grant opportunities because they couldn’t access information quickly enough to meet deadlines. They needed a solution that would allow easy access to information for the entire diocese – and the support to get 21 schools implemented efficiently.

We Are One

Once the diocese began researching different solutions, FACTS became the clear frontrunner for its ability to best serve the diocese’s guiding mission: We Are One. “Our vision at the time was let’s stop being independent, siloed schools and really operate like a district…provide a one source solution for all of our schools,” details Bouchard.

With so many schools using different platforms for different functions, FACTS’ extensive product suite proved especially useful. “FACTS made it so we could do everything we wanted with one vendor instead of having pieces missing,” says Bouchard. “It was huge for us to have the ability to customize things to fit how we wanted to do business, too. It was never a canned offer; it was what solutions do you want?”

One Step at a Time

With the goal of getting all schools fully on board in three years, a staged approach was necessary. Step 1 was having all schools implement the FACTS Student Information System (SIS) features most needed for office staff struggling with reporting: comprehensive reporting, health management, human resource reporting, staff information management, and student and family information management. The next step was getting teachers on board, accomplished by having early users share features like lesson planning during teacher absences in ongoing meetings. “The more involved and engaged we got them, the more excited they got about the suite and the opportunities,” says Bouchard.

As schools started using more FACTS solutions, Bouchard and her team relied on a heavily regimented training program designed in collaboration with FACTS Customer Relationship Manager Andrew Cohen. Schools joined a series of Zoom calls, broken out by job title and tailored to the ways that each position would use platforms. They also created handy checklists for each position to refer to as they began putting information into the new systems. Bouchard then offered in-person troubleshooting and follow up Q&A sessions, which are still held weekly for schools to share solutions or ask for advice. Trainings proved to be hugely successful, with school leaders learning quickly and soon handling training within their own schools.

“I’m really excited to say we’re implementing our last school now. They will be up and running effective August 1, 2024. So from beginning to end, it was four years for all schools to implement the entire suite of services,” states Bouchard. Today, schools across the Diocese of Fresno use FACTS SIS, FACTS Grant & Aid, FACTS Application & Enrollment, FACTS Tuition Management with Advanced Accounting, and FACTS Parent Alert.

A Winning Team

Implementation wouldn’t have been possible without a great team. The diocese’s team was small, spearheaded by Bouchard’s office of four. They relied heavily on FACTS to help design implementation roll out and communication plans, offering much-needed customization. When the diocese wasn’t happy with something “FACTS would ask ‘what don’t you like?’ and then make it look the way we wanted,” Bouchard details. “I haven’t met anyone at FACTS that didn’t support our goals and our vision. I really felt that FACTS wanted me to be just as successful as I wanted to be successful.”

One surprising element of the implementation was how quickly the first group of users became advocates for FACTS. Once schools started getting excited about what they were doing and highlighting their success in monthly meetings, “it created a kind of momentum for other schools saying ‘oh, this would make a lot of sense for us, too,’” states Bouchard. When it came time to implement FACTS Application & Enrollment, for example, early adopter schools played a huge role in getting other schools on board.

As the diocese implemented more products, FACTS’ dedicated support for each solution meant that stakeholders soon learned that support was only a call away. “It got to the point where I only came in for escalations because the schools were all working with their account managers,” explains Bouchard. “The blessing is all the dedicated resources. I knew that your team and my schools were doing what they needed to do. They were with us from step one through today.”

Strong Results

While Bouchard doesn’t have exact figures for the cost savings of eliminating multiple disparate platforms, she witnesses other positive benefits of the switch to FACTS daily. Employee productivity has increased many times over, with office managers now pulling data in 30 minutes that previously took six weeks of coordinating and communication. They no longer worry about immunization audits from the state either, as all information can be quickly pulled and shared for all 21 Diocese of Fresno schools.

Better data management has also allowed the diocese to receive grants they wouldn’t have been able to mobilize quickly enough to apply for in the past. When a state preschool grant recently became available, with only a week’s notice before applications were due, Bouchard says that the diocese was able to efficiently gather information for submission and earn $95,000 for their preschool programs.

Another benefit of the integration is increased collaboration across the diocese. Schools have become more solutions-centered and share their successful strategies with each other. “They’re no longer siloed. Their teams are really starting to communicate and work together, which didn’t really happen in the past,” shares Bouchard. “They’re all bringing lessons learned, what they’ve done,and what they’ve customized with FACTS that they can share with the rest of their counterparts.”

Lessons Learned and Looking Forward

The Diocese of Fresno’s story isn’t over yet, either. Bouchard says that once the final school is fully onboard, they plan to conduct a six-month listening campaign to evaluate what they’ve learned and what to do next. One lesson they’re already sure of however, is how beneficial it is to implement more than one FACTS solution. “It’s all-in-one and all the products work together. It’s a one-stop-shop,” she says.

As their four-year, diocese-wide implementation comes to an end, Bouchard says that the once overwhelming process has been easier than anticipated and that she would absolutely encourage other schools, districts, and dioceses to work with FACTS on their equally ambitious goals. “You’re going to find great partners,” she states. “Build your plan, take bite sized pieces, and course correct as you go. FACTS was a partner with us, and it’s just been a good experience.”