Why schools must focus on Operational Excellence?


Why schools must focus on Operational Excellence

Operation Excellence in corporate companies is not a new term. Companies regularly track and manage their assets and resources for effectiveness, efficiency, and high Return-on-Investment (ROI). This includes human resources such as employees, vendors, suppliers, movable resources such as computers, business equipment, immovable assets such as buildings, intangible assets such as brand, and so on.  For each of these, the cost and associated ROI are calculated. Such an exercise gives effective mechanism to take financial decisions, locate the biggest saving opportunities, and give undivided attention to organizational growth.  No wonder companies give very high priority to achieving and maintaining Operational Excellence.
If we need to understand the operational excellence in schools, we must consider the following aspects:

  • Teachers & Temporary Teaching Staff
  • Learning Aids (equipment – digital or physical)
  • School infrastructure
  • School Brand
  • Vendor management
  • Non-teaching facilities

Let us understand each of these aspects for their efficiency, cost, ROI, and their effect on school’s Operational Excellence.

Learning Aids 

School requires various learning aids such as customized curriculum, textbooks, workbooks, smart boards, flip classes, interactive digitized classrooms, and so on. Each of these products has its own importance and value; but it is important to understand their value addition in our school system. Each of such product’s ROI needs to be calculated in terms of their contribution in enhancing Quality Learning Outcomes (QLOs) in students, increase in school brand, and effect school fees.  myNalanda has observed that most of the time this process is not meticulously & diligently followed. As a result, this decreases school efficiency, increases operational cost, and reduces the ROI of these products, directly hitting school’s operational excellence.

Teachers & Temporary Teaching Staff 

Teachers are the engine of school. Usually, school tends to decide teachers’ remuneration as per their qualification and experience. But in long term, relying only on qualification, experience, and testimonies proves to be detrimental to school’s growth. Now a day, many progressive schools have exhaustive teachers’ appraisal processes in place. But one important aspect that is not considered in this process is mapping teachers’ contribution to students’ Quality Learning Outcomes (QLOs).
Measuring and compensating teachers’ contribution through the necessary teaching skills such as their evaluation skills, attitude towards learning and teaching methods, orientation towards students and so on serves as a better strategy. But doing such a mapping and measurement is a bit demanding task.  In a strenuous grind of daily school functioning, the efforts of mapping teachers’ performance to the QLOs usually take a back seat.
The result of lack of such mapping is huge attrition and wrong hires.  According to a study, the cost of a single wrong hire or attrition is double the cost annual salary of the teacher who was wrongly hired or lost due to attrition. It is a huge loss and big dent in the operational performance of the school.
If teachers are compensated based on their contribution to the QLOs and  are groomed in their developmental needs , they bring in huge returns in terms of high learning outcomes in students, lower attrition risk, and great school environment. This adds up significantly to achieve the school operational excellence.

School Infrastructure

School infrastructure consists of building, various laboratories, playground, sports facility, library, auditorium, teacher-student ratio, internet facility, and so on. Most of these are physical assets and therefore it is easy to calculate their efficiency and cost. But calculating ROI on these aspects is tricky. This is because each these facilities affect different aspect of school and therefore they need to be mapped differently.
For example, if a school has good infrastructure for sports, then ROI on this facility needs to be calculated on number of students participating and winning various competition at school/ district/ state level. If the school is not able to participate or win sports competitions at various levels then ROI of sports infrastructure is very low. This low ROI in turn reduces operational excellence of the school.  In such cases, corrective actions taken will not only increase the ROI but also will improve brand of the school.

School Brand 

School Brand is the collective effect of various parameters which helps to build trust of society as well as school employees.  Some of the parameters that directly impacts school’s brand are Quality Learning Outcomes (QLOs) of students (performance of students), teachers’ proficiency, school infrastructure, parent’s satisfaction. Based on the relevant facts and right marketing tools, a school can build a trusted brand. This brand becomes an asset to school and accelerates operational excellence.

Managing Non-Teaching Facilities and Vendors 

These are the two areas that school needs to manage besides learning. Non-teaching facilities include canteen facility, transport facility, safety of students, parent communication tools, general administration, vendors, and many more.  Efficiency and optimum ROI in this area directly impacts on operational excellence. The good news is that there are various software and hardware tools available which can be integrated to manage these aspects and allow school to function smoothly.
There are many off- shelf products available to manage non-teaching facilities and vendors. They are mostly plug-and-play software or hardware devices that require no or little customization. ROI of these products range from moderate to good in most cases and is usually built into the system. But in the first four aspects (Teachers and Teaching Staff, Learning Aids, School Infrastructure, and School Brand) there are no off-shelf products available to calculate the ROI.

Above-mentioned five aspects are important in achieving operational excellence in the school. It can only be achieved by understanding and tracking these aspects and their inter-relation to operational excellence.  Has your school achieved the operational excellence?

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