The State of EdTech : Thoma Bravo Q&A with Frontline Education CEO Mark Gruzin

Massive change. Political and societal pressures. Issues of equity and access. The future of education. Thoma Bravo managing partner, Holden Spaht, sat down with Mark Gruzin to discuss how EdTech vendors are working with communities and educators to adopt their teaching strategies in the New Normal. Mark is CEO of Frontline Education, a leader in school administration and HR software for thousands of school districts representing over 80,000 schools and millions of educators, administrators and support personnel across the United States.


Holden Spaht: What are the biggest challenges educators are facing as they head back to school?


Mark Gruzin: Very appropriately, attention has been focused on the challenges of providing rigorous academic experiences to students in a remote or hybrid model. From a school administration perspective, there are important additional operational challenges that school districts are facing as they reopen schools. Whether in-person or virtually, information and documentation will need to be shared and archived across systems and stakeholders without sacrificing privacy or data.

Historically, teacher shortage and engagement have been important issues across school districts. Many districts are making adjustments to their recruiting and hiring process to fill their openings virtually. Recruiting and Hiring technology will support districts to proactively attract and hire qualified educators for their open positions.

Another practice that will need to be adjusted is tracking time and attendance. Many schools have staff clock-in and clock-out to record attendance. This becomes difficult in a virtual environment requiring basic processes to be accommodated without relying on a physical location.


Holden Spaht: What are schools and communities doing to prepare for the school year?


Mark Gruzin: We covered a lot of this in The Path Back to School, a webinar series in partnership with AEI, Bellwether Education and the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. The series brought together education leaders, administrators and policy makers with diverse perspectives to discuss the challenges, successes and best practices we have seen and will see as schools reopen.

 Districts are leveraging virtual communication and software tools that support their school administration and classroom needs. They are transitioning from manual processes and disparate technology to integrated virtual platforms that allow them to manage and share data and work across multiple functions and departments. The goal is to save time and resources and connect formerly siloed departments and functional areas that must now work together to support an efficient and effective learning environment.


Holden Spaht: What have been your favorite stories about digital learning or virtual district administration so far?


Mark Gruzin: Districts have been incredibly proactive and creative in their approach to dealing with the broader impact of the pandemic. One of the main concerns early on was how to support students who rely on services and resources from the school beyond the academic classroom—such as mental and behavioral health support or free and reduced meals—especially as issues of equity and access came to the forefront.

One creative approach that was used by a school district leveraged the vacancy feature in Frontline Absence Management to quickly hire substitutes to help distribute meals at 45 sites for their 100,000 students. The students were able to receive three meals a day, five days a week and substitutes continued to work in an essential capacity and support their community in an impactful way while their schools were closed.

Educators in another district spent time creating short videos within Frontline’s Resource Library to help instruct their fellow teachers on ‘how to guide parents on setting up a quiet area for their kids to read.’ They are sharing these videos amongst themselves as self-directed professional development in this virtual learning environment.


Holden Spaht: How have you had to adapt or change your services under COVID-19?


Mark Gruzin: As a SaaS company, our clients were able to continue managing their operations virtually through Frontline’s school administration software.

That said, there are unique challenges that managing a remote workforce introduced, and we responded by enhancing functionality to support new requirements. We have introduced new capabilities within Frontline’s School Health Management solution and made critical enhancements to Frontline’s solutions for Human Capital Management, Business Operations, Student Information and Special Education.

We have also created resources and webinars to assist in training and for the critical thinking and necessary planning around the reopening of schools. Enhancements across all Frontline solutions have focused on adding greater flexibility to reduce administrative burden, allowing administrative functions to be easily and securely managed and adapted to a variety of virtual and in-person models.


Holden Spaht: Will any changes brought on by COVID-19 end up being permanent?


Mark Gruzin: COVID-19 exposed areas of need within the education system in terms of accessibility, equity, operations, logistics and more. Though these changes may vary as far as the degree of necessity and permanence, COVID-19 will definitely have a lasting impact on the way we run our schools and our communities.

In addition to having teachers rethink how to deliver instruction in a virtual environment, the pandemic has also challenged educators on how to provide effective professional development. The initial needs centered around delivering virtual training to teachers on how to most effectively teach remotely. District needs are expanding in staff professional development on a wide variety of topics. Online professional development is being re-envisioned through virtual cohorts and unique opportunities for teachers to provide peer feedback and coaching without the traditional limitations of needing to be in a physical classroom.

COVID-19 has also resulted in an expansion of Health Office responsibilities to include students and staff. It requires improved and more rigorous health tracking, reporting and data management for regulatory compliance and a need for cross-functional collaboration from the health office, facilities and HR to improve health and safety. Moving forward, these practices and requirements may likely become part of a permanent process as schools move towards more proactive prevention of spreading illness.


Holden Spaht: What will the future of education be like and how will Frontline enable or empower these changes?


Mark Gruzin: The future of education should focus on flexibility and adaptability that allows educators and administrators to support continued growth and learning for students and staff while staying agile and proactive as issues and opportunities for advancement arise.

School districts will benefit from the adoption of technology in the classroom and the administrative office—leveraging data across multiple systems to facilitate communication and collaboration, prevent interruptions to learning and uphold safety and compliance regulations. This will set the infrastructure for educators as they focus on providing effective learning opportunities for all students and advance their professional growth.

Our focus, long before COVID-19, has been to provide a comprehensive administrative technology suite hosted in the cloud and purpose-built for K-12 education. This has enabled us to support our clients as they transitioned to alternative work environments. Thousands of school districts representing more than 80,000 schools using our innovative solutions for their human capital, school health, business operations and special education needs were able to maintain continuity of operations. We continue to enhance our solutions to support education leaders as they adapt and evolve their operational and administrative requirements.

KPMG Spark helps small businesses

The variety of services offered by KPMG Spark allow our clients to grow, develop, and focus on things that matter most. Our services take the responsibilities of bookkeeping and give you all your necessary financial information at the touch of a button or from a quick call to your dedicated bookkeeper. Our contributions not only help you save time so you can focus on other aspects of your business, but it also gives you the information you need in an efficient, presentable, and tax-ready format.

New member of your team

When you use KPMG Spark’s services, you not only receive access to our one of a kind software but you also receive a dedicated bookkeeper that you can contact who keeps track of your books and is there at your service. Your bookkeeper is there to serve you and you can always reach out to them with concerns, questions, or even just updates about your company.

Our bookkeepers enjoy helping their clients and getting to know them and their respective industries. It is so easy to stay in contact with your bookkeeper, you can call or text them when you need information, advice, or consultation. One of our own account leads stated, “Clients LOVE having a live bookkeeper that they can text, call, or email. So many will text me receipts, email me wanting a quick call, or need me to set up a meeting with a CPA. They love having someone working with them on it all.” Having a personal bookkeeper that you can stay in contact with is one of our most popular services as it helps you stay up to date with your books.

Our bookkeepers work at your pace so you can always be on the same page. This helps our small business clients have the books in order at all stages in their growth. One of our startup clients recently commented, “the bookkeeping team is incredibly responsive and helpful which is critical given the fast pace of our growing business”. KPMG Spark is so much more than a bookkeeping software company, we want to add value to your business. Your dedicated bookkeeper keeps up with you so you can be readily informed of the standing of your business and so you can focus on other, more pressing matters at any given moment.

“Our biggest time saver”

As a small business, doing bookkeeping on your own can be daunting and extremely time-consuming. KPMG Spark takes the bookkeeping, payroll, tax preparation, invoices, and so much more off your plate so you can focus on what really needs your attention. As one of our clients recently stated, “[Spark] fuses together some of our most time-intensive tasks into a single platform, streamlining our accounting through to taxes”. Here are just some of the services we can take off your hands.

Online bookkeeping

Just connect all your accounts, and we’ll reconcile your books, securely and quietly in the background. No more monthly reconciliation. Bookkeeping made simple by yours truly.

Tax preparation

We simplify the tax preparation process for you so you can focus on what matters: the day-to-day of your business. Then when you need your tax documents, we’ll already have them ready for you.


Track mileage and other expenses in our unified interface that seamlessly flows into your books and reimbursement processes. Our software has been designed specifically so you can have access to everything you need in a simplified interface that you can see whenever you need it.

These services, as well as others found at, allow you to put more of your time into other aspects of your business like product development, marketing, hiring employees, training, culture development, and other time-intensive tasks for small businesses. As some of our business clients have commented, “Switching over to Spark allowed me to gain more control over the creative part of my business” and “Spark makes it easy for me to focus on my customers and not spending my time worried about… my books”. We make time for your books so you can take time for vital parts of your business.

Let our accounting experience help your business thrive

The combination of our software and our accounting professionals working with you is unmatched and creates a system that allows a business to streamline its efforts to achieve stability and profit. With customizable monthly reports and tax-ready information, all the information you need is right at your fingertips. A startup partner of ours recently commented, “The customizable monthly reports allow us to present our financial picture in a professional and crisp layout.” Our software allows your information to be readily available so you can stay up to date and keep other parts of your business on the same page with your finances.

In order to keep your business alive and healthy, your finances and financial decisions need to be on the same page. For example, when you get a new plant you have to know how often and how much you need to water it to keep it alive and healthy. Likewise, with your business, you cannot spend too much or too little money or you will inhibit its growth. KPMG Spark’s services work with your business as the info sheet that comes with your plant to provide you the financial information you need to stay up to date with your finances and keep your business alive and healthy. The information we give you works so you can know how much to ‘water’ your business so it continues to thrive.

Let’s spark something

Here at KPMG Spark, we love helping small businesses with their online accounting so they can grow to their full potential. We’ve had many clients over the years that have continually shown positive growth with our help. The accounting system for small businesses that we have developed is a combination of our one of a kind software and a dedicated bookkeeper and CPA to help get your books in order. No need to stress about getting things ready for tax season or getting all your expenses in order, your bookkeeper’s got it covered. Online bookkeeping is our bread and butter and we can take it off your shoulders so you can get back to what makes your business yours. One of our clients said it best, “With KPMG, I finally feel like my business matters.”

To learn more, please contact Jay Daugherty and Andrew Cherry, KPMG LLP.

Reintroducing the Workforce to the New “Normal” Post COVID 19

We are all very immersed in supporting our companies and families during this global pandemic. With this comes a new set of challenges, that we don’t normally see as business continuity professionals, but are well within our skillset and should be brought forth to the appropriate areas of leadership. The goal is to ensure continuity of operations, or organizational resilience. 

I would like to take a different approach to continuity, one that will hopefully become extremely relevant, soonEmployee comfort and security first, operational adjustments second. 

Read full blog post.


Domain’s SenseIT IoT with SAP HANA and Microsoft Azure

Contributed by Domain Consulting Group, Inc 

Domain, a partner of SAP, is happy to announce the successful launch of their newest business-enhancing information technology solution: SenseIT IoT. SenseIT is a condition-monitoring internet of things application developed by Domain to help businesses track shipments and product handling conditions in real time. Using sensors from various manufacturers, we upload collected data to SenseIT’s cloud, standardize the record format and insert it into an SAP HANA database. SenseIT resides on a hyper scalable infrastructure on an SAP HANA database and Microsoft Azure. With SenseIT, Domain’s customers can see the exact location of the truck, plane, or train that is transporting their products, as well as the condition of the product, thereby protecting their valuable property in real time with precision and ease.

SenseIT is designed for both manufacturers and distributors. One of Domain’s customers, StyleCraft is a manufacturer of fine cabinetry who has benefited by using SenseIT in a shipment from Lancaster County to Dallas Texas. In this case, the company needed to determine how drawer slides were being damaged enroute.  By setting low thresholds for G shock levels, we were able to determine at what level they were being damaged so that they could be packaged properly.  SenseIT also set thresholds minimum and maximum temperature and humidity to protect the integrity of the wood and finish. A real-time map allows customers to visualize all active shipments geospatially, and by clicking on individual shipments, they can view sensor readings. If a shipment is distressed, SenseIT sends an instantaneous alert via email that includes time, location, and cause.

Another Domain customer, Triose, is a life sciences logistics firm affiliated with United Health Services, a major health care provider. Domain has successfully implemented SenseIT in Triose’s pharmaceutical shipments. Pharmaceuticals are expensive, perishable, and valuable.  But the true value is the patient need. In this case, SenseIT tracked many shipments of  a specialty medication valued at $7,000 to 9,000 per vial.  Each package consisted of the drug, ice pack, and sensor, sealed in a Styrofoam container.  It was important to maintain a temperature of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. With SenseIT, we can know the temperatures to 1/100th of a degree. SenseIT can assist in helping companies like Triose achieve effective cold chain procedures so that medications can be delivered uncompromised to patients in need.

After completion of a product shipment, SenseIT automatically produces a COPH, or a Certificate of Project Handling. The COPH lists shipment details such as start and stop date and time, maximum and minimum sensor readings, including GPS location of the product at the time of the message. The COPH provides our customers with concrete information with which to supply their customers.

SenseIT IoT can be used with its own portal or tightly integrated with SAP Business One, or in combination of the two. Soon Domain will integrate SenseIT with other enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) such as S4/HANA and Oracle Netsuite.

As you look to the future of your company, let Domain help you get there and maintain that edge using the knowledge provided by the SenseIT solution.

Domain specialists are looking forward to speaking with you and your colleagues about how this solution can greatly enhance your manufacturing or distribution business, making it even more profitable than ever.

Call (610) 374- 7644 Ext 7005 to learn more about Domain’s state of the art shipment and monitoring technology.

Domain Consulting Group, Inc

Pivoting Around Healthcare’s Coming Regulatory Shift Means Taking A Hard Look at Innovation Strategy

By Mark Hughey & Kurt Schiller, Arcweb Technologies

The past few months have seen enormous shifts in the healthcare industry, and expectations are higher than ever. From the sudden widespread rollout of telehealth services to the dramatic increase in virtual visits and patient mobile app usage, the impacts of COVID-19 on the ways people use technology to engage with their health cannot be overstated.

But there’s another tectonic shift on the horizon, one that’s been largely overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s the 21st Century Cures Act, a piece of legislation passed in 2016 and officially put into effect on June 30, 2020, and it contains a series of dramatic regulatory changes that will totally reshape the way technology of all stripes uses, stores, and shares healthcare data.

This act is opening the door for patient data-driven companies and products from every conceivable industry—but effectively taking advantage of this opportunity will depend on a company’s ability to rapidly, measurably, and above all effectively innovate.

Why the 21st Century Cures Act matters

In the United States, while patient data is strictly regulated for privacy and other factors by regulations like HIPAA and HITECH, the data itself is generally acknowledged to be the property of the medical provider, not the patient. That means that with few exceptions it’s been the prerogative of doctors and hospitals (and ultimately, the technology vendors who manage the data) to decide who gets access to that data, and how.

“Data blocking” is one of the main problems being targeted by the Cures Act. Under the new regulations, providers, insurers, and software vendors (such as Epic and Cerner, developers of two of the most widely used electronic health record systems) will be required to share that data through standardized interfaces like FHIR and HL7.

In other words, vastly more healthcare data is about to become much more widely available to almost any business, app, or product (provided customers agree to share it, of course).

Finding opportunity in regulatory change

Regulatory changes like the Cures Act represent tidal shifts in the norms of industry, and they can spell opportunity or disaster depending on how your company and your products respond.

Could you tap into healthcare data to give customers better insight into their health? Or could your products tailor their experiences to a patient’s medical history? Might doctors find value in receiving critical insights about their patients—your customers?

If you haven’t previously thought of your business or products as existing in the healthcare industry, these may seem like totally alien concepts. Of course, the same could once have been said for now-ubiquitous tools like GPS, mobile internet, or high-definition video capture, which have made incredible impacts on industries as wide-ranging as retail, logistics, and events management. The availability of consumer-ready patient data tools like Apple Health have already spurred investment into healthcare use cases, and the Cures Act stands to drive adoption a step further.

Whether it’s GPS or healthcare interoperability, these major technological shifts are coming faster and faster, and it’s increasingly critical that companies are able to capably respond to them.

Unfortunately, when it comes to these sort of dramatic innovation initiatives, the track record is not great. In 2017, a survey of 450 CIOs found that 80% of all innovation projects fail to meet company expectations or goals, regardless of the industry — and in healthcare in particular, the American Hospital Association found that more than half of all healthcare leaders lack a standardized process for determining whether a digital project succeeded or failed.

While your business may not have literal lives on the line the way a doctor or hospital does, the cost of a failed innovation project can be significant, both in terms of sunk cost and missed opportunity.

The solution is to completely rethink the way that companies have traditionally handled innovation.

Upgrading your innovation strategy

Responding to a major change like the 21st Century Cures Act is a classic example of the need for a workable innovation strategy. In our work within the healthcare industry as well as the larger technology space, the team at Arcweb has found that the key to a successful innovation strategy is to adopt a standardized, measurable, repeatable innovation strategy.

One of the most common mistakes made by organizations beginning innovation initiatives is over-committing to a single idea. It’s easy to see why: given the difficulty of establishing buy-in, allocating resources, and getting an innovation project off the ground, a “one and done” mindset is an appealing idea.

But before deciding to double down on a single idea, remember the 20% success rate of innovation projects: there’s a very good chance that your initial attempt won’t pan out.

The solution, then, is to establish an “innovation pipeline”: multiple projects, features, and initiatives, each of which is given only enough resources to validate the basic idea and determine whether it has legs.

Looking to develop a patient data-driven feature? Rather than rushing to market with your best idea, launch several possible features as small pilots, each with a limited audience and minimal features – then measure the reaction, and see which opportunity moved the needle. If one of these limited projects is succeeding, double down on it. If it’s not panning out, reallocate the resources to one of the successes.

The other half of the equation, of course, is determining what “success” means for each project. More revenue? Better customer satisfaction? Press coverage? The desired outcome will be different for each company, or even each project—but if your innovation isn’t measurable, it will be impossible to determine if it succeeded.

Whether it’s COVID-19, a new regulatory regime, or other industry-redefining events, the worlds of business and technology have always changed rapidly, and there’s every indication that they will continue to do so. Learning how to innovate effectively, measurably, and within a standardized strategy represents the difference between successful adaptation and failure.

After all, innovation is a tool. And a tool is only as good as our ability to use it.

How testing IP can offer desired business outcomes in digital transformation

Contributed by Cigniti

Digital transformation is an ongoing journey. It is an initiative in which an organization evolves its business processes, business models, and organizational culture to adapt with a digital-first mindset.

Digital transformation is about continuous learning and applying the lessons for continuous improvement. What used to be a slow and steady journey of constant feedback and evolution, has turned into frenzy with the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, in response to the changing competitive, regulatory, and consumer landscape, organizations are employing a band aid approach to digitization, leading to short-sighted solutions and failed transformation efforts.

The average digital transformation stands a 45 percent chance of delivering less profit than expected, suggested a McKinsey research.

Diego Lo Giudice, VP & Principal Analyst at Forrester says –

“There’s a connection between the different transformations and digital excellence. For example, what is it that makes a digital transformation successful? It’s software, and it’s the way you build, deliver, deploy, test and do all that to the software. There’s a need for excellence, which we haven’t fully mastered yet. Today, many are just scratching the surface in terms of the advanced practices of Agile and DevOps.

There are three aspects to digital transformation that Diego suggests:

  • Businesses must master digital to stay in business
  • Software powers the digital experience
  • Software execution excellence equals business execution excellence

These three inter-laced aspects of digital transformation points to the necessity to employ mature software testing processes to test more, test better, test faster, and test smarter.

The key to successful digital transformation is continuous testing that leverages next-gen smart automation technologies to deliver quality at speed in every release.

IP-led testing services

Kalyana Rao Konda, President at Cigniti Technologies, elaborates on the key components that organizations must master to successfully make the digital transformation effective –

“When it comes to the role of testing in the context of digital transformation we have to approach it from two different aspects – one is the skill set and another one is the mind set. As more and more organizations are moving towards digital transformation, the aspects of early testing and utilizing test automation in an optimum manner are very key components.

BlueSwanTM – the next-gen software testing platform

BlueSwanTM, the next-gen proprietary software testing platform developed by Cigniti, is a composite suite of varied testing frameworks in which each platform is tailored to serve a range of challenges that organizations might face. It aligns the organizational goals with the prevalent trends, assures optimal performance of your chosen framework through continuous QA, and accelerates the migration process with its intelligent proprietary tools. It fortifies our IP-led software testing services approach along with the Cigniti 4.0 services and domain-centric approach for offering world-class testing services to business across the different verticals.

Cigniti & Forrester are coming together for our upcoming webinar on “Delivering business outcomes in Digital Transformation initiatives leveraging Testing IP”. Register to save your spot and listen to the two industry leaders offer a detailed understanding on the utilization of testing IP to achieve digital excellence.

Read the complete blog here.

For 10 Consecutive Years, Philadelphia Business Journal Selects Anexinet as a “Best Place To Work”

Company’s COVID-19-Initiated Remote Worker Support, Chronicled By the Press

Philadelphia, PA – July 16, 2020 – Anexinet Corporation, a leading provider of digital business solutions, today announced it is a recipient of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2020 Best Places to Work Awards, making this the tenth year in a row the company has earned this distinguished honor. Year-over-year, Anexinet has risen to the top of large Philadelphia-area companies for having one of the best employee cultures, based on actual employee survey results—from compensation and benefits to trust in senior leadership. 

The Philadelphia Business Journal once again teamed with Quantum Workplace to identify the region’s Best Places to Work. The 2020 list includes 90 companies from across Greater Philadelphia, ranked by employee feedback. Nominations were accepted from the public, and employees were asked to complete an online survey.

The nomination process began in January and closed May 8th—encompassing a time frame of unprecedented operational challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Anexinet’s twenty years of experience in holistic digital business transformation yielded its proven methodology and enabled the company to quickly virtualize its process to support its clients’ shift to a predominantly remote workforce. The company’s agility did not go unnoticed as journalists sought their advice in publications such as The Enterprisers Project, Toolbox, and CRN.

“COVID-19 tested the resolve of our employees and they responded with a level of trust and dedication I knew they had in them but which I had not witnessed before,” said Todd Pittman, CEO, Anexinet. “Spirits were kept high with virtual Town Hall meetings and happy hours as well as dedicated HR support—which also led to extraordinary customer service. I’m proud of Anexinet’s ten-year run as one of Philadelphia’s best working environments and I’m especially proud of every Anexinet family member who demonstrated their resiliency. Truly inspirational!”

Follow Anexinet on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or via the Anexinet Insights Blog.

About Anexinet

From intelligent, full-stack engagement strategies and solutions to modern, secure infrastructure products and services, Anexinet focuses on technology-enabled business transformation that drives value. For over two decades, Anexinet has helped companies worldwide solve their most complex challenges—from engaging front-end interactions to dependable back-end solutions. Anexinet’s record of client success springs from a culture rooted in thought leadership and delivery excellence. For more information, please visit or follow Anexinet on Twitter or LinkedIn.


For more information, contact:

Betsey Rogers

Public Relations

BridgeView Marketing