Exploring a paperless business administrative system (BAS) implementation in a k-12 school

Marwan M. Issa


The primary purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate how a paperless BAS can affect the overall performance of a school’s administrative activities. The research included direct observation, survey questionnaires, document review, and both structured and unstructured interviews.The selected school, a K-12 charter school, was an ideal candidate for this study as it allowed unrestricted access. The effects of the move to a paperless BAS were overwhelmingly positive. These effects included enabling employees to complete their resource requests more speedily and accurately. The implementation also incorporated “smart” forms that did not allow users to submit incomplete forms. Employees were able to track requests, ensuring that objectives were achieved effectively and in a timely manner. Continuous, rapid, and secure access to information allowed stakeholders to make quicker and better-informed decisions. One negative effect was that the user interface required a steep learning curve. Employees expressed concerns about the lack of transparency in the decision to go paperless. Finally, employees from all user groups expressed their desire for more in-depth and frequent training, including periodic refresher courses, not only to keep users abreast of system changes and updates, but also to allow them to continuously hone their skills using the system. Based on the survey data, several recommendations for change emerged. An illustrated system user guide would be an important tool for users. In addition, an online help function, along with a live Help Desk and IT staff, would decrease system issues and delays. Early involvement from stakeholders in the decision to move to a paperless system would improve the “buy-in” from all stakeholders. Future research could investigate whether different training programs yield different results. Additional quantitative research is needed to investigate the return on investment from going paperless. Finally, future research should address other aspects of school operations that could be made paperless.