Customer Spotlight: Spring Branch ISD

Posted by Nick StammO

August 31, 2020


How Hoonuit and Spring Branch ISD are transforming procurement in education. 

Hoonuit’s Operations Analytics solution is used by school districts to fully optimize their day to day operations. It helps education agencies bring transparency into their operational information so they can make data-driven decisions. How is this done? By bringing together disparate data sources to provide all-encompassing insights such as: 

  1. Resource allocation: How do you know your spending is making an impact? Hoonuit helps find fiscal efficiencies by quickly connecting per-student spending with successful outcomes to ensure every dollar is allocated where it will make the biggest difference. 
  2. School climate and organizational culture: Hoonuit helps you analyze student engagement, school safety, and the learning environment, as well as centralize the necessary data in a tool that allows you to identify school needs, set goals, and track progress. 
  3. Student well-being: Hoonuit helps districts go beyond compliance when it comes to capturing key student health information by proactively track health and wellness trends 

As a philosophy, Hoonuit does not build its products or product features in a silo — every element is designed around actual district and agency challenges. Such is the case with Spring Branch ISD, a middle size district in Harris County, the largest County in the state of Texas. Hoonuit is working with Rick Gay, the Director of Procurement Services for Spring Branch ISD to further optimize their procurement operations.

Meet Rick Gay, Director of Procurement for Spring Branch Schools 

Gay is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States army where he picked up a “can do” and “make it happen” attitude that he has brought to his 25-year career in school business. As the Director of Procurement Services for Spring Branch ISD, Rick Gay is responsible for all of the district’s purchasing requirements, serves as the contracting officer for the district and is responsible for their central warehouse. Spring Branch is his fifth school district and he is proud of the fact that through innovation, technology, and delivery of services in the procurement and k-12 environment, his school districts have saved about $70 million.

Why Hoonuit?

Why was Gay so interested in Hoonuit? Spring Branch was one of the first districts to embrace the digital procurement process, leading to significant savings, and he was looking for a way to visually demonstrate that. Gay believes that, “if you have contracts in place and you’re tracking how you’re spending your money, you can make better budget decisions. You can make better contract decisions. You can see where your money’s going.” 

Gay sees his role in the district to be one that gives the CFO a visual explanation of where the money is going, however he acknowledges that it can be difficult to identify the value of expenditures. “We’re a very regulated industry. We have federal regulations, we have state laws, we have board policies that guide us in what we can do and everything. And so, a lot of times people come up with great ideas and great ways of doing things, but unfortunately, when you look at how much it’s going to cost, we can’t touch it without going through some kind of procurement process.” Hoonuit helps Gay meet his objective to streamline that process to make it as easy as possible for people to accomplish what they want to do in the classroom.  

One of the main ways Hoonuit supports Gay’s team is by tying their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system into the Hoonuit dashboard. Gone is the need to upload spreadsheets or manipulate data.  According to Gay, “if we can tie all our data into the dashboard as we’re spending the money, as we’re instigating the contracts, then it’s going to be a lot easier for us to make smart business decisions and see where our dollars are going.” 

Applying Hoonuit Capabilities to Procurement

For 25 years, Gay has been creating a surprising amount of key performance indictor (KPI) data that provide a better understanding of the cost of procurement. One of Gay’s objectives with Hoonuit is creating a consistent report of spending. The National Institute of Governmental Procurement (NGIP) is a nationally recognized code that tracks spend by category such as elementary textbooks. Spring Branch tracks all of their spend based on NIGP commodity codes, however it’s been difficult to get a consistent report out to stakeholders. Hoonuit will change this by clearly showing the tracking on spending every month down to the details of spend on paper, pens, pencils, staplers, computers, etc. This will allow them to categorize how they want to spend their money based on what’s being spent by that category. In terms of budgeting this will allow for smarter decisions. “I’m really excited. I’ve been looking for a couple of years to have something like this,” said Gay.

Bringing survey data into Hoonuit

Hoonuit’s Survey Importer allows users to input the data from their custom surveys – including what the questions are, what the possible responses for those questions are, and other things about the survey such as its name and description. All those data points get stored in the database as part of predefined tables in the data model and can be connected to other data sets such as specific vendors, expenditures, or even academic outcomes.   

Gay is passionate about finding the best value for his district. “I have one customer and that is Spring Branch ISD, and so I have to get the best value for my customer.” To this end, Gay’s team does a lot of independent surveys to make sure their solicitations to their bid populations (the vendors and the people that send their proposals) meet their fit model. This is a model that Gay uses to make sure the solicitations are fair, inclusive, and transparent. He wants to make sure everybody gets a fair chance to submit a proposal and be considered. The ability to query their end users (the teachers and administrators) as to the service that these vendors are providing is also key and critical to the process. To put it plainly, Gay wants to know “is the juice worth the squeeze?”  

Responding to COVID-19 with data-driven decisions

Gay’s “can do” attitude is now being utilized to confront the unexpected and unplanned challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. He believes these challenges have allowed Spring Branch ISD to learn a lot about themselves, and their capabilities. For example, when Gay put his budget together for the upcoming school year, there was no line item for desk shields. Now, he has to make sure schools have cleaning supplies, face masks, shields and more and the question becomes, “where will that revenue come from?” Gay believes that using Hoonuit to visually correlate the revenue that’s coming in with the outgoing expenditures is going to pay huge dividends in the long run. “We’re going to be able to make strong decisions about the budget.”

We’re thrilled to have partners like Rick Gay who bring innovative ideas that help drive operational excellence. Most of all, we are excited to continue our partnership with Spring Branch ISD as they look to enhance student outcomes through data. 

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