A CEO just finished a long-awaited meeting with his Finance Director.  They spent hours going through the P&L accounts, staff overheads and cash flow projections.

It was brutal. Declining student populations, bad collections from sponsors and high staff cost and turnovers are the new norms of the industry.

The CEO knew he needed to do something drastic. He reckoned that any short-term plan was not going to help.  He needed to plot new middle and long-term strategies. He needed more inputs to formulate his strategy.  So, the CEO asked his team of executives to brief him about all the important parameters.

In the management meeting, all head of the departments came prepared with a stack of files containing important departmental data. The meeting started with a lengthy explanation from the head of admissions, presenting his latest numbers on the student population only to be interjected by the head of finance and the head of academic. Both of them claimed to have a different number of students in their possession.

The same thing happened when other head of departments presented their data. 

The discrepancies of data were causing too much problem. So, the CEO gave his management team one week to sort things out before their next meeting, hugely disappointed. Not only that his strategy formulation will have to be delayed, but he was also presented with more bad news from his team.

High overtime claims from the recent new student registration day and qualification agency audits, bad collections, a rising number of abnormalities from the external auditors, mounting student complaints were some of the problems highlighted. 

It was a complete mess! 

Breaking the Silos

Have you come across the same situation as the CEO? His problems are mostly caused by the departmental silos, a growing pain for many organizations to date. It is either the left-hand does not know what the right hand is doing or that they don’t care what the other departments are doing.

Managing a business operation is like conducting an orchestra. CEOs must keep all departments in tune. However, unlike the orchestra conductor, a CEO doesn’t get to practice for weeks before the performance.  

In reality, CEOs have to overcome many challenges on a daily basis which include reacting to the operation, competition and regulation dynamics. The side effect of this knee-jerk reaction is that it disturbs the business overall performance or in the orchestra’s case, the tune.

We all know the success of a business depends on how well the operation is streamline. But how to streamline?

Like the orchestra, you can’t be having the trumpet guys plays perfectly but out of tune with the bases. You got to keep them in tune. In business, we organise the trumpet guys in a department and the bases under another department as it is much easier to get a department to work hand in hand if they possess the same work nature. 

In colleges or universities, however, tend to focus too much on the product which in this case is academic.  This is, of course, the most important thing. But as a business entity, the balance of financial, growth, student service and academy must be achieved.  Regardless of state-owned or private institutes, financial sustainability is the key to existence.

Streamlining Horizontal Processes

Streamlining the operation refers to the efficiency and effectiveness of horizontal processes – the processes that cut across departments.  For example, new student recruitment exercise often involves marketing, admissions, finance, academic, hostel and student affairs.

New student recruitment is a critical business operation. Without new sales, you will have a problem to fill up the classroom which will lead you to an even bigger problem – sustaining your business growth. 

Finance, admissions and academic departments need to ensure fees, profiles and academic background are meeting the minimum requirements set by the accreditation agency. With departments attending to situations on a case by case basis, people getting used to doing the checking manually and it started to cause delays due to priority differences.

Cross-departmental interactions are part of every business operations. However, due to the inability to synchronize, it is causing extra works – inaccuracies that require time to rectify. 

Campus Management System

In the absence of a campus management system, we rely on people to stitch the processes together. Unfortunately, this method proved to be inefficient especially when there are too many people involved.  The human being is unpredictable in nature and their actions and reactions are often perceived by their surrounding. 

With an integrated system in play, each department will have to set up their requirements into the system and it will be easily pick up by other departments.

For example, Admissions and Academic departments have set up the academic background eligibility based on qualification agency’s requirements in the system. Finance has a setup fee structure for all semesters. 

Instead of your normal paper application, prospects are asked to submit an Online Application form in which the system will check the prospect’s eligibility automatically. Thus, eliminating manual effort by the staffs altogether.  

A campus management system such as Sqayy ties all cross-departmental processes with a simpler workflow and automation and it continues to expand into more areas – recruitment and admissions, hostel management. It aims to help CEOs to achieve maximum productivity, unlock their institution’s full potential at a minimal cost. 

Because regardless of how aggressive the marketing department is, they are not allowed to recruit students who are not qualified or promote programs that have yet to receive government approvals.

 

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