Delivering An Exceptional Campus Management Experience
The focus is on improving practices through innovative use of technology platforms for enabling efficient and effective campus management.
What makes student life great? What makes government agencies (sponsors) favour a particular college and send the best scholars of the country there representing stable and lucrative cash flow for private colleges and schools? What makes parents vote with their wallets and send their children to certain schools and colleges?
Answer: The management’s processes and results. From registration that takes 5 minutes per student to financial transactions being done cashless. Thus, ensuring campus security and avoidance of unwanted publicity. It’s also about bills issued and paid 24/7 through the online student portal and exam results accessible through student portal immediately after the cut off date for lecturers to submit marks. The sponsor wants to know within a week the Overall Result (broadsheet) of their scholars to determine if they qualify for a 200,000 USD ticket to London to study medicine.
So the Key Performance Indicator question becomes how does management achieve “process excellence” or “effective campus management”?
We need a platform.
A 21st-century technology platform.
Meeting Management Expectations
Education institution management needs are a niche area. The management of kindergarten, tuition centres, colleges and universities deserve a level of personalized service from a technology platform in order to manage their student data efficiently and effectively. Colleges, for example, can no longer be complacent and use past methods to live the future such as using a filing room or excel file data reporting processes to report to Qualification Agencies or the education ministry, – or to parents and sponsors.
Today, as competition for students and sponsor dollars heat up, courses, career and financial support, course delivery methods, infrastructure and brand of the institution become important factors that determine which institutions win the trust of parents and sponsors as well as students. While institutions can rely on radio and digital marketing to boost student numbers, in the face of more options being offered by sprouting private education institutions, word of mouth remains the most effective form of marketing.
Credibility is key
Therefore, the key to credibility is effective campus management to delight students, parents and sponsors as well as qualification agencies. While speed is important, accuracy is paramount.
Students, parents, sponsors and qualification agencies that receive comprehensive reports about student academic achievement, attendance, financial position will speak about their good experience dealing with the management to their friends and family. The government agencies that deal with effective management will give 5-star ratings to the institutions, further bolstering reputation and enrollment.
Enrollment is a good proxy for growth in income.
This improves the financial position and branding of the institution even further. Students who excel at an institution justify taxpayers’ money being poured more into sending more students into a particular institution.
When a staff of Qualification Agency logs into a reporting system and retrieves wanted data easily, they will be able to give a 5-star rating to the institution because of the level of professionalism in managing the campus by the management team.
- Define, deploy, measure and transform the management of campus experience for management (challenge assumptions that data should be kept in storerooms and thumb drives and bounce off emails). Example: 1 day to get Collections report instead of 1 week.
- Get a 360-degree view (data-informed decision making through student numbers, including financial numbers and forecasting).
- Compete against standards set at national level (qualification agencies, government agencies and ministries).
- Responsiveness to changing student, parent, and sponsor expectations through continuous FOC system and process updates as well as paid customizations. Portal for parents, self-service platforms.
- Open new cost-cutting possibilities (eliminate the need for extra headcount and overhead cost) and revenue-generating opportunities (optimize corporate event space booking).
What are the issues faced by management?
College and school management often face one issue – distributed data over multiple technology platforms (excel), emails, and traditional brick and mortar filing rooms (big hardcover files) which slow down and make tedious, simple tasks such as generating a student list.
Transparency is a theme of governance in the 21st century, governments require institutions to report outcomes. IT infrastructure and process management know-how are keys to meeting this requirement and operating excellence (read: efficiently, effectively and seamlessly) internally in order that management can focus on the bigger picture. That bigger picture is capturing a bigger number of students by expanding to more campuses or offering more programs. Not minute details of administrative constraints such as generating a list.
The best marketing is free, and students talk about their education experience to their parents and their parents talk to other parents who make purchasing decisions on education.
Excellent campus management has trickled down effects. How? Read on.
How campus management platforms can help institutions achieve management excellence?
The Web and the Cloud.
Data is migrated from software such as Excel or others to a central database & user-friendly system.
What does this mean for Management and Board of Directors?
A website for processes input and reports (output). It is horizontal because student academic, finance, and exam data are extracted in the form of reports anytime, anywhere. For example during external audit compliance, the CFO can request finance staff to generate an outstanding report from tech platform to be used to declare financial position and extraction from back-end verifies that outstanding is accurate. In the past, files pass through many hands and function formulas cause variations and to auditors, a variance is a red flag.
With a central database, staff turnover does not mean information turnover because the data is centrally located.
24/7 and 365 Core Business: Academics and Admissions
Registrar can generate student list, (especially international) students attendance data can be uploaded instantly and directly into national regulatory agencies’ portal. So, in cases where government agencies require a traditional method of submission, the pre-approved formatted reports of the technology platform make reporting convenient. Credentials can be given, reducing the burden on management.
With the technology platform, the possibilities of how it is expanded as per the example above.
The campus management system or mostly known as the student information system is a platform: – an enabler of improved processes.
Technology Platform Customization.
A technology platform used on campus should be flexible enough to cater to multiple scenarios. Different institutions have different requirements based on their size, culture and resources. Just like how Google products can serve customers across level and business, a technology platform should be able to be integrated into the operations of the institutions seamlessly.
Concurrent to this, besides being suitable for any size-institutions, a system should be able to cater to a universal standard collections report or to specified royalty report from an education centre. A college wants to leverage the tech platform to be able to forecast future revenues against current cost, this is technically possible and will unlock actionable items and insights for the top management.
Methodology Improvement for Top Management Decision Making
Before the Internet, it was hard to forecast. Data were scarce and scattered in the back office. There were no user-friendly means to retrieve and analyse them. therefore, a tech platform should be rigorous at the back end but user-friendly at the front end for the end-users.
Tech platform should help unlock Average Revenue Per Student numbers so that the institution can focus on offering highly-priced ticket courses when student numbers are dropping. ARPS is a similar concept to Average Revenue per User (ARPU) in subscription-based businesses. Top management can align course offerings with national objectives to cash in on sponsor dollars’ spend on sending students into medical courses or information technology-related courses.
Tech platform should be able to ‘inform’ (course offering) strategy to focus on value rather than volume of students in the face of increased competition offering homogenous products and services in the education industry.
The skills mismatch is a gold mine for forwarding thinking institutions.
Automates All Standardized Tasks
Jobs are not replaced by technology. Tasks are.
With the tech platform, class timetable scheduling, exam result publication is automated, including CGPA or Grade calculation. The algorithm is defined and then runs automatically resulting in output such as exam transcript, complete with grades according to the grading scheme.
As seen above, any repetitive or standardized items (i.e. grading scheme) that have exact parameters to be defined, can be entered into the tech platform which is then processed and generated for the users seamlessly.
Overall, the tech platform is semi-auto. There is a one-time setup but the effort is worth it when the output (reports) is consistent and reliable.
This is done without any manual data processing as required on other tech platforms such as word processor software or spreadsheets. The administrative burden is lifted off the management staff, freeing time for efforts such as student recruitment.
Based on a real case study, up to 30% cost saving is achieved when productivity per staff increases.
Technology Platform Integration
Software used in education institutions consisted of email, word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software. The technology ecosystem was not very developed and sophisticated back then. However, with cloud and other megatrends like AI, Big Data, people realize there can be much more value-added through systems integration.
This is to meet the needs of campus security, the integrity of financials, the effectiveness and efficiency of audit reporting as well as the smoothness of human resources management. Data is often scattered between departments and therefore, institutions need a horizontal and versatile tech platform to solve the biggest problem of management in education – getting reports in order to initiate action items. So many visions die in execution.
Multi-dimensional needs require multi-functional software(s). But, the future is that one core system with multiple supporting systems should be integrated into one.
Hence, the story of the campus management system is of a journey of innovation instead of a race. There are requests for the current tech platform to be integrated with others. One core system meeting multi-dimensional needs where the system is central to the ecosystem.
Operations Made Systematic
In the world of Big Data, there is no room for manual data curation and data cleansing. There is only room for data interpretation and analysis. Data interpretation and analysis are important to higher education. There is no room and excuse for human error caused by weak spreadsheet software. Shareholders and company directors demand an outstanding report and they want it with accuracy.
In the age of disruption and lack of control over external factors, growing institutions demand analysis and insights into their own operations. They want concrete facts and numbers that will help them with decision making. This information is used to justify their management decisions to the Board of Directors.
The system empowers users to collate and curate information in the form of reports. In the era of information abundance and explosion of insights, sometimes the key challenge is the ability to construct a picture for stakeholders from disparate data points. The Mosaic Theory in finance industry now applies to the education industry.
Innovation will continue to drive software development and while customer requests will inform development, testing and deployment, original ideas by players in the industry will redefine the traditional ways of work.
In the end, it is about being effective first (doing the right thing(s)) and efficient second (doing things right). Campus Management System is to the education industry as Spreadsheet Software is to the financial services industry. An integral part of the business and will continually evolve as businesses respond to opportunities and challenges towards nation building by developing our most valuable resource: our students.
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