Anyone remotely connected to the education sector knows that there is immense competition among the schools in the UAE. More and more schools are opening each academic year and all of them promising the best learning and extra-curricular opportunities for children.
Schools face the constant challenge of staying ahead in the services they deliver whilst sticking to a budget. With the pressure of the budget in mind, schools can now look to outsource so they can focus on their core business, delivering top standard education and working with parents to make sure they retain their student headcount.
What can be outsourced by a school?
Well, we have all seen those yellow school buses on the roads, almost every school outsources their transport service. Catering – schools outsource this too. Imagine each school needed a full equipped kitchen with staff? It is just not feasible. In addition, uniforms have always been outsourced to uniform supply companies.
That brings me to a vital area that can be outsourced by a school – the administration.
The school registrar has an extremely admin-heavy job role. She (or He) is the schools "face", the first point of contact and often the decisive factor in parents choosing that school or not. As any professional, the Registrar knows, her main focus should be on the parents and children. Helping parents to take the decision to join the school, building and maintaining a strong rapport with existing parents so they continue to sign up for the following academic years. Sadly, this is not the reality of the job. Registrars are overworked and stressed. They are loaded down with administration tasks that can easily be outsourced to free up the time of the Registrar. In short, this pressure leads to massive staff overturn and eventual loss for the school.
Let us look a bit deeper into what kind of administration tasks can be outsourced. Answering general email enquires is a repetitive task that can easily be handed over. If we look at the admission process alone, the Registrar can spend 50-70% of her working day entering data into the system and following up on pending documents. This is not a productive way for a Registrar to spend her time when there is a queue of parents wanting her time too.
Schools need to focus on teaching, often recruiting the right administration staff with the skills and experience needed to do the job is rushed and overlooked. The admin staff school end up having are often wearing more than one hat, carrying out tasks over and above what is in their job description and what they are capable of.
A professional outsourcing company is ready with the right tools and skills set to alleviate the Registrar's role. The most common concerns the schools have are cost and loss of control over what is happening.
Schools are a business, they are a profit centre, so of course we need to talk about cost. As with any outsourcing scenario the employment cost is taken away so there is a cost saving right there. A wider range of skills and experience is available to the school at a fraction of the cost of a full time employee.
The second issue can be easily managed with the well thought out Service Level Agreement (SLA). An SLA is imperative in any outsourcing scenario. The SLA will provide clear lines of what is being outsourced and what the turn around times are. Whatever is not defined in the SLA is carried out by the in-house administration staff. No lines are crossed and everyone is extremely clear on their deliverables.
Overall outsourcing is a less expensive, space and time saving solution to schools in the busy race to provide top standard education and customer service. It allows Principals, Teachers and Registrars to focus on their core roles. In today's ever increasing outsourcing solution world, Principals need to start looking into solutions like this to gain a winning edge.
Outsourcing is not about handing over the reins to someone outside of your organisation, it is about building a partnership, gaining talent and experience, thus becoming stronger and better at what you offer.