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Thinking of changing your Scheduling Solution – which one to choose?

Well, a great question, one to ponder…, if you plan to just change the software and look no further into the organisation or the institutions existing core processes, the reasons for work-around’, methods, and the very reasons they exist. Be prepared to explore the integrations across a range of technologies with core systems that support Students and deliver key information to faculty, VC’s, the Chancellor, and the Institutions other key decision makers. To plan what key data you need exposed as information to support Institution wide decisions – without that as the approach my solemn note is this, it doesn’t matter, changing the software alone won’t fix the issues.

If, however you plan to uncover existing processes, be prepared to re-engineer and innovate new ways to deliver to the fundamental reason the Institution exists in the first place ‘ Education of the Country’s finest students’ then, Welcome to your own Future!

After working for nearly a decade with Microsoft as State Director in South Australia, I can say with alacrity, Innovation moved mountains, made the impossible situations fade into the rear-view mirror and shone a light on the future path, adding clarity and technical capability for success.

I want to expand what I mean by “integration across a range of technologies” – it’s not in doubt, but a caveat & and a clear warning sign – don’t buy a Scheduling system that say’s it integrates with other systems – be clear, explore offerings, validate claims with existing clients (wherever in the world they are, their business motives will reflect yours) for your connectivity needs.

Success will not be, ‘Open the new Scheduling Solution software box, and trust to procurement processes (effected, largely by non-practitioners, who do not understand the specific institution needs) and just hope your good judgement is all it needs, and that it will all work as expected’.

I promise without the right Solution Partner, thinking, working, and acting on your behalf. Without Business Planning, Project Preparation work being done, accurately and well, it won’t.

As always with all these technologies, there is some considerable preparation and readiness, as well as some thought-provoking Business analysis, and planning needed to be undertaken for the project to gain full Institution value.

A new solution does sound great, however, what exactly do you want to the outcomes to be?

Outcomes for any Scheduling solution providers are much more effective for your written responses than telling them how you want to get there…it allows for alternate paths, processes and methods with new thinking and technologies. By far, surpasses – Yes/No or Complies…

Consider Taking the 5 Step Approach:

Step One: Choose your Scheduling Solution Partner with great care. Really, for example, just because they know Scheduling and Timetables, you’ve worked with them before – that is not a tick in the right box, this is a much bigger project than that.

The original supplier may have initiated some of the workarounds to your legacy systems (to avoid failings) you will be cementing those existing workarounds into your ‘new processes’ if they are re-selected

Do they really understand complex Scheduling, have global proof with significant references that they do?

Step 2: Decide what you really want to achieve with the chosen Scheduling Platform Solution – Is it Student Centric, inclusive of Staff and Faculty – with simple and easy to follow access, to update their own specific needs.

Have your own clear Plan

Own a Project Plan - with Steps/actions – Timelines. Ownership (Who, What, When)

Planned outcomes. Budget and associated Licences

Negotiate early and get agreements in place – Late to the party here = Urgency on your Part & increased profit on theirs….

Remember ‘your reason for being’ - Education and serving Students and faculty. – Obtuse ideas, project creep, new ideas that miss this point will take you off-plan, perhaps never to return…

Step 3: Engage your chosen Solution Partner(s) Supplier, Consultants, Internal team early on the plan – draw-up a Project Plan – Critically, with Executive Leadership Sponsorship & Support, along with Strategic buy-in across the Institution leadership team – if you don’ t get this, look for something else to do, sadly it’s not going to work out…

Step 4: Is where you can have some real fun. Education/Student/Institution/ Outcome Measurements. Results, Deviations from the norm, anticipated versus real, Upcoming Skills Gaps, Gaps to Qualifications and resources required to deliver Institution Plans. Resource Gaps to Planning – your imagination is the limit – Use and gather all that real-time, accurate data into a tool like MS Power BI and analyse the Business to your hearts content – real data makes a real difference. It's how to win hearts and minds on the Executive team.

Discuss and decide as 'a cross University team', how real results will be utilised to fine tune business inputs – this a live situation, make sure you know which levers to adjust in real-time – the core challenge will be identifying key data needed that will form information support for decisions by the leadership and faculty teams.

Your LMS and other applications may already be available as an out-of-the-box integration, all well and good, as above check, validate and get references, decide what data is needed from the LMS.

Know how all this data gets stored in your LMS, CRM or SIS, or whatever you select as the System of record – the single source of truth. Know where and when course, learning, results, outcomes get transferred to the single source for reporting and providing updates.

You need to ask your broad, engaged University team, 'Open Questions'. Explore and validate those, to define a response or support the need.

Is this a development project too, to get the adjustments your Institution needs? Don’t compromise this opportunity....

Step 5: Don’t assume anything, ask, test, prove and match to plan before taking the leap.

Engage Plans and Include internal IT team as internal Business Partner.

The IT Executive is your friend.

Start with the CIO (go-on, I know you’ve always wondered who lived on that floor…ask about……)

How to get all that rich data into Microsoft Power BI or other systems, so you can analyse and visualise emerging issues create real-time Dashboards. See upcoming roadblocks, resource issues, existing or emerging skill-gaps. Identify areas and locations where you have all right skills you need - design what you want to see and learn about the business – Get IT to help define the inputs you need.

John Driscoll

Semestry Limited – ANZ Business Development lead

25th May 2022

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