The following Massachusetts Executive Office of Education (EOE) client history highlights the true ROI experienced during a W A Holscher Consulting engagement.

School Interoperability Framework (SIF)


WAH provided comprehensive program and project management in conjunction with architectural and process improvements, including selecting the replacement State SIF Vendor, architecting IT infrastructure upgrades, establishing district on-boarding procedures and implementing a new MA SIF vendor certification pre-requisite requirement with a full set of associated policies, standards, procedures and supporting documentation. WAH also implemented a vendor certification website for disseminating technical and certification information to all Commonwealth SIF vendors.


WAH was instrumental in the current Visual Software Inc. (VisualSi) support agreement negotiations which resulted in the guarantee that EOE or any school district receives a SIF Agent free of charge from the State vendor with a reduced support and configuration consulting rate. Worcester and two other districts have capitalized on this offer. Additionally, WAH was tasked with vendor management responsibility for VisualSi including architectural oversight for all enhancements and product upgrades.


WAH created the SIF On-boarding dashboard in SharePoint which was designed to provide EOE and DESE with district related SIF and SIS status and environmental information including technical contacts, vendor, school, and student populations. Specific secure sub dashboards were created for Data collections and SIF Production Support.


WAH architected the first ever real-time event driven SIF implementation designed to handle the State’s 1 million students, 434 districts, 2500 schools and 15 million daily events.


WAH had vendor management responsibility for 12 district SIF/SIS vendors who had no direct contractual commitment to the State and instituted the first ever Vendor SIF Scorecard and five Star rating system to assist districts in evaluating their vendor performance. The twelve district SIS/SIF vendors included PowerSchool, SchoolBrains (Aptium), X2/Follett, Rediker, IMG/Harris, MMS (Computer Resources), Infinite Campus, SunGard, Apple Educational Services, Scholars Choice, and Skyward.


WAH was responsible and accountable for providing both Program and Project Management for the entire SIF initiative which included third party Collaborative vendor management responsibilities. The SIF team generated all required SDLC and Architectural documentation and diagrams including first ever district level custom vendor Student Information System (SIS) SIF integration user guides to assist schools with State reporting via a real-time event driven SIF model. The SIF initiative had no initial SDLC documentation when started in December 2012. A comprehensive SIF Operational Support guide was also created to assist in training and knowledge transfer.


WAH has overseen the SIF certification of 9 vendors and on-boarded 295 out of 434 MA School Districts while deploying SIF Versions 2.0r1 and subsequently migrating to 2.7M.


The SIF 2.7M migration resulted in an 80% reduction in Helpdesk Support COMIT tickets. The savings in time, effort, resources and overall operational costs for the State and the Districts has been significant. Additionally, the 2.7M implementation has greatly improved overall district data quality.


WAH directed the Commonwealth SIF Production Support Helpdesk responsible for closing over 4000 helpdesk tickets to date while supporting District On-boarding, Data Collections and vendor certification operational environments.


WAH was the primary SIF technical and functional SME interface with SIFA, Visual Software, IT and Application Departments, Consultants, Contractors, Data Collections, EOE and DESE management.


WAH trained and mentored Business Analysts, Contractors and SIF Production Support Staff including recommending and arranging for a primary contract support resource to accept an FTE position. Additionally, WAH was instrumental in recommending and arranging for a contract BA to take an FTE position at EOE. To date she is the highest performing BA in EOE and is destined to be one of EOE’s finest project managers.


Legacy Support and Collections Optimization


WAH was responsible for the Legacy Data Collection Support team migration from 8 internal EOE FTE and Contract staff augmentation resources to 4 Collaborative Technical resources via an annual support contract. The move provided an enhanced technical support bridge at a reduced operational cost while a new real-time collection optimization replacement application and architecture could be deployed replacing the old batch flat file data processing and DB structures.


WAH was PM and Scrum Master for Legacy Data Collections Support team implementing key application enhancements including DCO and Single District Period roll forward. The single district roll forward enhancement was previously considered impossible to attain requiring all districts to certify SIMS, SCS, and EPIMS before any could be rolled to next period. We also eliminated over 600 manual adjustments for period roll forward, including hard coded dates, periods, Org codes and other miscellaneous coding issues. The Collaborative Consulting Team provided over 650 product enhancements and defect repairs while closing over 450 Legacy Support COMiT tickets for DESE Data Collections.


WAH designed the new Collections Optimization architecture to take full technical advantage of the MA SIF deployment with a fully normalized Operational Data Store, and web based dashboard User Interfaces (UI) providing enhanced DESE application processing capabilities, data reporting, and event transaction efficiencies while reducing both technical and functional operational and support costs.


A re-architected Dashboard UI Mockup is completed for both District and Data collections with associated work-flow and requirements documented. Current, interim and To-Be application architecture diagrams are also finalized and available.


A complete list of functional and architectural enhancements has been outlined in RTC for the Collection Optimization initiative.


A new error message process and reporting structure has been initiated that will cumulatively save the State and districts thousands of support related man hours.


Statewide Student Information System (SIS)


WAH was PM responsible for the MA Statewide Student Information System (SIS) RFP, pricing guidelines, application product requirements and evaluation, vendor selection, Vendor management, and deployment. The six-month initiative from RFP generation to deployment involved the specification of 1014 functional and 376 Technical requirements covering 64 school district operational categories.


The Price per Student (PPS) costing model was a first of its kind in MA resulting in substantial district SIS cost savings which declined as more students utilized the Statewide Web Based SIS Product. The original $11 PPS was reduced to $9 within the first full production year. Furthermore, the DESE SMARTT and NORD 26k student population where guaranteed the lowest tier $5 PPS and counted toward the overall Statewide SIS Participation rate.


The RFP and associated pricing structure is used as a model for other Statewide Educational product procurements.




WAH provided the Executive Office of Education (EOE) and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Adult Education (SMARTT) application architecture re-assessment. The original proposal was for a sixteen-man year custom State Legacy Application rewrite. WAH recommended moving the Adult Education SMARTT application to the recently deployed SchoolBrains web based Statewide Student Information System (SIS). The estimated customization costs were under 500K and within 180 man days saving the State between 2.5 and 3 Million dollars of development and support costs. WAH negotiated our annual price per student support to be based on the lowest contract tier rate established during the Statewide SIS RFP Contract negotiations.


The new MA Statewide SIS application platform is also School Interoperability Framework (SIF) and Federated Security compliant providing for full integration with Student ID assignment, Assessment, Educational Application Integration, and Longitudinal Data Warehouse analytic reporting support for more than 22 thousand Adult Education students.


Enterprise Architecture (EA)


Temporarily fulfilled EOE Chief Architect’s role by leading a new architecture group designed to improve overall IT operational effectiveness and technology adoption, consolidation and utilization. WAH was responsible for establishing the Enterprise Architecture Steering Review Board (EASRB) EASRB which had architectural, governance, and review authority over all EOE IT Policies, Guidelines, Standards and Procedures. WAH provided numerous architectural artifact templates for utilization by EOE including numerous IT position descriptions.


Evaluated, selected, and implemented Rational Method Composer (RMC) as our Policies, Guidelines and Standards static web page based artifact repository tool.


WAH provided extensive input in formulating the EOE Agile SDLC, PM, and Building Permit processes. The Building Permit Process was established to communicate application status, design, and architectural issues early in the project planning process. It has proven to be quite effective. WAH also contributed extensively to the EOE Rational Team Concert (RTC) utilization process, its definition, and adoption.


WAH was the architect and PM responsible for number of SIF Hardware and Software Infrastructure upgrades including the latest initiative, costing 1.2 million, which provided enhanced processing power, network bandwidth, increased storage, scalability, high availability, and enhanced software utilizing the latest operating and database software technologies.


WAH was the PM responsible for the successful implementation of IBM’s Tivoli Monitoring in the SIF IT Infrastructure including SOW generation, Vendor Management, monitoring, and implementation sign-off. This was the second attempt to install Tivoli monitoring after a previous attempt had failed. Monitoring dashboards were provided to System Engineering, Data Base, SIF Production and Legacy Support personnel.


WAH was the EOE architect working with MassIT to provide districts with a comprehensive Security Solution that would provide a cloud based Directory Administration (DA) instance that was Federated SAML 2.0 compliant and would guarantee that all district vendors and IT third parties would meet certain State approved security standards. WAH provided two representative RFPs for use by MassIT Department of Municipal and School Technology to use for the Statewide RF(x) procurement. The security issue resolution is a prerequisite for moving forward with SIF Version 3.x using web services.


SIF and Statewide SIS Presentations


Follett Executive Meeting August 20, 2015 Malden MA

Massachusetts District Technology Conferences (MDTC) May 29, 2015, Holyoke MA

(PUG) PowerSchool User Group May 21, 2015 Shrewsbury MA

49th Annual MASBO Institute Conference May 12, 2015 Brewster MA

Annual TEC Conference March 27, 2015 East Walpole MA

DESE Roundtable March 11, 2015 Malden MA

US Department of Education Washington DC February 11, 2015 Washington DC

2015 SIFA Annual Conference February 10-12 2015 Washington DC

Chicopee District Technology Conference January 26, 2015 Chicopee MA

SAC Meeting November 3, 2014 MA

State of Minnesota November 6, 2014

National Education Summit SIFA/CELT November 6, 2014 Boston MA

MASSCUE Gillette Stadium October 2014 Gillette Stadium Foxboro MA

DESE September 9, 2014 Stocktake for Commissioner, Malden MA

NCES STAT DC July 30, 2015 Washington DC

IMG Annual User Conference May 23, 2014 Bolton MA

DESE EOE Roundtable March 23, 2014 Malden MA

2014 SIFA Annual Conference February 18-10 2014 Washington DC

Federal RTTT 204 Program Presentation July 15, 2013 Malden MA

IMG Annual User Conference May 3, 2013 Bolton MA


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