2021 The Year that Was

Towards the end of another year and importantly, I can report Parashift is still alive, growing and kicking after what have been two difficult years in many areas.

We grew our customer base by 42%, our customer retention rate remains at 93%, and 88% of our income is now annual recurring. Our move from a bespoke project-based company to software is now complete.

This year we received market acceptance by several governing bodies, a testament to the dynamism of Parashift’s direction. The Christian Schools of Tasmania and Swan Christian Schools became SchoolBench customers. We were thrilled to learn the WA Department of Education approved SchoolBench as their media management system for public schools – congratulations Nicholas Cumine!

Pleasingly, our New Zealand footprint continues to grow, with our newest family member joining as recently as this week. Parashift says kia ora to the Queen Margaret School to SchoolBench.

Our product team has been hectic this year, launching SchoolBench Portal in the first quarter. A clean and intuitive solution to assist Schools to publish securely to their parent community. We also upgraded SchoolBench Mobile based on customer feedback to support single sign-on and the tagging of images.

In the second calendar quarter, we produced two major security releases. One centred on upgrading all SchoolBench internal components, and the second provided enhancements to user session security. Frustratingly, most of this work will never be noticed by our customers, which is precisely how it should be.

We integrated SchoolBench Facebook and Instagram to support publishing directly from SchoolBench to ensure posting considers student media consent. Customer feedback has been positive and constructive. In 2022, we’ll make it even better.

Finally, from October to December, we released several integrations to popular student systems by API, including TASS, Sentral and Edumate and partnered with Simon with a custom SchoolBench view.

We said bon voyage to Henri Guillaume, who has been with Parashift since its 2013 inception. Henri has held many roles as we grew, with his last role as Client Director. We wish him well in his new venture and his plans to retire in the not-so-distant future. Thank you for all your support and dedication over the years – we had a lot of fun!

To end my annual communique on a positive note, I look to a future that is extremely exciting.

I can announce that Parashift has successfully completed its first round of capital raising and without changing the majority ownership. Parashift’s strategic plan will benefit greatly from this increase in working capital.

We will be undertaking a sizable recruitment drive to meet a very daunting product roadmap and growth targets in the new year. So if you are interested in joining a dynamic future-focussed company in the third most livable city in the world, Adelaide, I suggest keeping an eye on seek.com.au.

I like to thank Team Parashift for what has been a very challenging year, and in particular, Desline Simon, Parashift’s Product Director. The direction her team is taking SchoolBench is simply incredible.

On behalf of everyone at Parashift, we wish you a Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. We hope 2022 be a healthier, work fulfilling and friends and family-orientated year than it has been for the last two.

Kieren Fitzpatrick
Parashift Managing Director

Welcome Back, Kotter (NSW & Vic)

It’s been several months and finally, NSW is opening up. Congratulations on reaching your 70% vaccinated milestone.

Longer still, Victoria has now begun its own journey to normality. Last week, the first tranche of students returned to schools across the state, with further tranches only weeks away.

Using the 80’s sitcom as inspiration, we say, Welcome Back, NSW & Vic!

Stay safe, learn as much as you can and remember to have fun!

Security Release v12.6.1

A new version of SchoolBench is now available, and this release centres on security as well as preparations for the future. With that in mind, we strongly recommend customers to update to this version as soon as possible.

While there are no new features contained in this release, there has been a focus on hardening SchoolBench’s security. There has also been much groundwork for future capability, including the new multiple algorithms (AI) earmarked for SchoolBench in 2021 and 2022.

In this release, the SchoolBench security enhancements include:

  1. Upgrading the session token to reduce hacking possibilities.
  2. SchoolBench Security Hub, a new and improved encryption and decryption system, centralising security in the SchoolBench ecosystem i.e. SchoolBench, Portal and Mobile.
  3. A new configurable time-based session key generator.
  4. Improved user security, logging out users with no activity for a period of time set by the school.
  5. Limits individual users to one browser session at a time to reduce the risk of identity theft.
  6. Upgraded the SchoolBench database to the latest security measures.

Parashift continues to take the security of SchoolBench seriously, and we commit to continually harden the security and work with our customers to that end.

For more information regarding this release, please visit our YouTube channel or contact support@parashift.com.au .

SchoolBench v12.4.2 has arrived

It’s already mid-January 2021 and a new school year is fast approaching. There is no rest for the wicked, and Parashift has been very wicked indeed. We are all very excited to announce SchoolBench version 12.4.2 is now available for customers.

This release is packed with a serious level of coolness, all designed to make the management of your photo and video library even better.   

SchoolBench Portal

The parent portal has been completely re-imaged in collaboration with several customers – we are proud to introduce SchoolBench Portal.

An elegant and intuitive portal, where Schools can easily and automatically provide parents regular images of their children in a safe and secure way. SchoolBench Portal comes with both free and webshop capability, enabling the sale of photos at a school determined price.

SchoolBench Portal can be provided either as an iFrame to embed in your LMS, or it can be deployed as a standalone web app.

ID Profile Rollover

We have improved the annual ID photo update process, which is crucial to facial recognition accuracy. As some student systems strip the ID photos’ metadata, including the year, SchoolBench will now apply this automatically. This update makes the annual profile rollover automatic and headache-free. 

Duplication Detection

Last year we noticed a growing list of false positives in duplication detection. To address this, we have completely upgraded the duplication detection engine of SchoolBench. Test results have seen an incredible improvement in both speed and accuracy. We’re sure you love it.

To see our latest post discussing all things about this release, please click this link.

2020 – The year that was

Every year I write a summary of the year that has been, and this year is no different. However, when detailing this year’s events, several expletives could come to mind, but the acronym WTF will do just nicely. 

In January, Parashift’s board approved a new three-year strategic plan, and it ended up being one of the shortest-lived three-year plans in history. For March, and due to COVID-19, a new straightforward plan was enacted: survive. And with many tough decisions and a lot of hard work, Parashift not only survived, we thrived. 

In 2020, we grew our customer base, maintained a customer retention rate above 95%, achieved cash flow positivity and look to return a small but respectable profit. Parashift was tested like never before, and we come out of the year battled hardened and can declare with a loud voice: we’re here to stay! 

Before the year’s chaos, in late January, Desline Simon begun as Parashift’s Technical Lead. All the way from France, Desline was tasked to increase our technical depth, partner with Australian universities and expand our usage of AI. With a Masters in Computing Science and a background in AI-based computational linguistics, Desline brings an international flavour and a set of highly specialised skills. 

Along with the rest of Australia, Parashift went into lockdown in March. We quickly adopted a work from home strategy and found the technology side was the easy bit. The larger challenge was managing the human factors with all the uncertainty being faced. During this month, I have never used the word “unprecedented” so many times in my life. 

Parashift moved swiftly to support our staff, we extended sick leave entitlements to all employees regardless of tenure should they contract COVID. Thankfully, no one has to date and as a cure begins to be rolled out in the UK and US, it is my hope our luck continues. 

In April, we launched the new Parashift website, which can be found here. A beautifully polished website communicating our culture, history and future direction. It showcases our loyal customers and the products we provide.    

We launched SchoolBench Mobile™ in June, an easy-to-use app for both Apple and Android devices. The app turns a personal mobile device into a workplace camera. When photos are taken using the mobile app, they are partitioned from the other apps (including the camera roll), and then securely sent to the customer’s SchoolBench system. 

In July, and after seven long years, Peter Lesty, Parashift’s Technical Director, and one of the three founders, decided it was time. So, with a mix of sadness, pride and best wishes, we said goodbye. Peter was the original architect of SchoolBench and leaves behind a product that continues to grow and provide value to an increasing number of schools across Australia and New Zealand. 

Speaking of SchoolBench, our flagship product, we launched the new SchoolBench website also in July. With integrations to our CRM and Support Portal, and use of elegant imaging and simple to understand language, the website communicates the never-ending journey of SchoolBench. If you have not visited it yet, you can visit the site by simply clicking  here.

In September, we expanded our footprint in Social Media, showcasing quick tips and longer form ‘how to manage’ the various stages of the media lifecycle. SchoolBench now has a growing presence on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. With new content regularly added, it’s an excellent resource for self-helpers. To follow, click on these links and hit the follow button.  Instagram Facebook YouTube

In November, we launched the second version of the SchoolBench Mobile™  app, with a new user interface based on customer feedback. We also added bulk image management capabilities. And this is only the beginning…

In December, we finalised SchoolBench Portal™, which is now ready for release in early January, and well before the start of the new school year. SchoolBench Portal replaces the current Parent Portal with a fresh new design. Designed to be accessed inside a school’s existing LMS, SchoolBench Portal aims to be a seamless experience for users. With eCommerce capabilities, SchoolBench Portal also enables schools to sell their photo library to the parent community if they wish. 

So as I sign off, I once again take this opportunity to thank all staff, customers and other stakeholders for their contributions in what has been a very challenging year. With the festive season soon approaching, being surrounded by family and loved ones, it will be a nice end to what has been a trying year. This year has taught us all what truly matters in life, so enjoy your family, friends and that bevy of food and drink that awaits. 

Merry Christmas and may 2021 be a much better year for everyone.

Kieren Fitzpatrick

SchoolBench Mobile v2

We are pleased to launch the new version of SchoolBench Mobile app, and just a few months after its inaugural release. Naturally, the app is compatible with both Apple and Android mobiles.

SchoolBench Mobile is designed to empower school employees, enabling photos of school activities to be taken on their personal device. The app stores the images in a secured container; with images not accessible by other apps and can only be shared with your SchoolBench system.

New Design

A new clean and intuitive design, making use as simple as aim, shoot and share.

Contextual Tags

Apply contextual tags at capture, making future search simple.

Effortlessly send batches of images securely to SchoolBench, never lose a great photo again.

Do not hesitate to check our Youtube video, for more details about SchoolBench Mobile.