Blog #5 for GTOs - boost your organisation’s efficiency and performance
4 software solution ‘must haves’ #needtoknow.
Shuffling paper, manually retyping data from one system into another, Excel spreadsheets, Access databases, and disconnected websites are all zapping your organisation’s ability to be efficient.
This is particularly evident in group training, where often physically dispersed staff are managing both apprentices and employers. While the workforce is out with host employers, new enquiries are constantly flowing in through the website. However, the data relating to these activities is rarely stored in one place and isn’t part of key business workflows. It’s lost. It’s not measurable or reportable and is disconnected from the core of your business.
Sadly, the training and education sector has generally been poorly serviced by technology providers. Solutions tend to be based on specific tasks (payroll, financials, CRM, website, etc.) and rarely bring everything together to create a single workflow.
There are 4 key things that you should be looking for in a system to ensure your staff aren’t bogged down with low-value, manual and repetitive tasks:
With a focus on a sexy user interface, stakeholders can sometimes forget to check how well the UI (user interface) supports day-to-day activities. The ability to search for trainees and generate actions (i.e., schedule a visit or enroll in a class) without having to go through the ‘Click – Open – Change – Close’ routine for every record can result in massive time savings over the year.
While compliance is crucial, it really should be an output of a good business process. When selecting a system, it’s important to ensure that the business can function without being constrained by the student/training management solution. The ability to onboard students, update their detail and progress them to completion should be flexible.
This is an important one. Every time I speak to organisations, from the smallest to the largest, they say their biggest challenge is the ability (or lack of) to integrate their central systems. The obvious one is website integration. Providers spend substantial amounts of money getting webforms developed to support their business, but as soon as the ‘submit’ button is clicked the output is an email, and a back-office person then has to manually rekey the data from the email into the core student management system. Your core system should have industry-standard API (RESTFUL) so that you can quickly and easily input and retrieve data. There’s an excellent blog post from 2012 over at Hack Education that covers off APIs in an education setting.
The time wasted in preparing reports is enormous. Everything from putting together operational reports through to board reports consumes a massive amount of time in the enterprise. A must for any system is the ability to generate ad hoc reports driven by user searches through to regular analytics – at the click of a button. It’s also important to make sure that the reporting capabilities match the skills in your organisation. The last thing you want to do is to be forever going back to your software vendor to make changes to critical business reports.
By automating low-value tasks (or at a minimum making them faster and more intuitive to complete), automating workflows that can be modeled to your business, automating data flowing from websites and other systems, and automating the generation of reports, you allow your people to focus on the important stuff.
So, you’re doing better business.