An Alberta public school board is preparing to equip more than a dozen schools with a human resource software package it hopes will become the standard across the country.

Fort Vermilion School District next month plans to

upgrade its installation of Edmonton-based Vision HRM Software Inc.’s payroll and HR system from version 2.9 to 3.6. Nestled along the Mighty Peace River, north of Edmonton, Fort Vermilion is Alberta’s oldest community, and its school district includes a native school for the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and three Learning Stores, or storefront schools.

The Vision School Board HRM System was designed and customized based on products from Navision Canada, which gave Vision a five-year period to develop and market human resource applications using its components. Fort Vermilion School District had already been using Navision’s accounting and finance software for about two years, and served as a pilot project for the HR and payroll system. The initial launch on version 2.9 went live on Jan. 1.

Russell Horswill, the board’s secretary-treasurer, said it was important to install a system that was based on the most up-to-date database architecture.

“”In a school system — we have 15 schools — we have got some very well trained accounting staff in central office. But the school’s secretaries themselves may not have a lot of expertise in accounting,”” he said. “”We were looking for a system that was easy for them to use as an end-user, but was powerful enough so that when we were doing our financial analysis, we were able to get the information required easily.””

Horswill said the Vision system’s Navigate search function will allow users to take any record in the database and find every connection to it. Searching on an accounts payable invoice, for example, will bring up its general ledger entry, the customer card transaction entry, taxation and anything else related to that transaction. “”If you get a phone call from a vendor saying that you didn’t pay Invoice 1234, you just go into Navigate and there it is,”” he said.

Vision HRM Software chief operating officer Ken Rylance said the company has already received interest from other school boards since the Fort Vermilion project began.

“”They had some ideas, we had some ideas, and they really had a strong interest in driving this thing to some new levels,”” he said.

Horswill, who has also worked for public school boards in British Columbia, said there could be benefits across the education sector by working on a consistent HR and payroll platform.

“”We deal with very similar issues across the provinces,”” he said. “”Obviously we’re not going to predict what everybody needs, but we were trying to develop it as more than just a solution for us. It was a solution for the e

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