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					                                 RSRG Conference 2009

      Why do I have to Change?

Leading and managing change in the school office

                                   Bernard Cheng
                                              Overview of Presentation

•   Section 1   Concepts of change

•   Section 2   So what needs to change anyway?

•   Section 3   The changing school office

•   Section 4   Online services and information ownership as a solution

•   Section 5   - Putting this into practice at Australia Street
                - Some final perspectives to consider
                                                    Concepts of change

•   Change often creates feelings of:

•   Discomfort

•   Fear

•   Distrust

•   Scepticism

•   These feelings tend to be the outcome of not being involved in the change
    process which is so often the case in large organisations.
                                                     Concepts of change

•   However given the opportunity to be an active participant in the change
    process often times change is an opportunity to:

•   Reflect

•   Question

•   Redefine roles and expectations

•   Enhance efficient practices reducing role complexity.
                                                        Concepts of change

Critically …

•   It is an opportunity for experienced practitioners to provide insightful
    contributions from a task level perspective in tandem with a systems
    change perspective.
                                                  Concepts of change

That is …

•   Balancing DET System requirement for change and school level
    requirement for change

•   What are the issues?

•   Who are the stakeholders

•   Do they conflict?

•   Are we in synergy in purpose and process?
                                                    Concepts of change

From this point of view we need to:

•   look at examining the role of SASS and School administration through
    critical eyes in order to:

•   Identify common issues that need to be addressed

•   Look at ways to reduce role complexity and multi-tasking.
                                                      Concepts of change

•   Reduce unnecessary paper work and task duplication.

•   Identify outdated processes for completing common tasks which are so
    often not questioned ..

•   Critically question and reflect on core tasks and process.
                                                        Concepts of change

A quick question …

•   Have you noticed that often when a process is questioned good or bad
    within our role we often reply…

                       We have always done it this way …

•   This “We have always done it this way” syndrome too often characterises
    many of the tasks we do in the office.

•   This syndrome often ingrains itself within our role if a work practice is
    introduced and then replicated .
                                                    Concepts of change

•   This sense of “ingrained practice” without examination tends to permeate
    what we do.

•   A common thought is …. We may not like it however it is familiar and
    therefore shouldn’t change.

•   We need to look beyond the desire to maintain the familiar and embrace the
    opportunity to change if it can prove to enhance work practice efficiency.
                                      Concepts of change

Convincing you that the change is worthwhile is difficult
           unless you are part of the process

                       That is …

You can see a compelling reason to change that
   has a real and practical benefit to your role!
                                                       Concepts of change

•   What are the issues driving a need to re-evaluate the way we do things?

•   A change in practice built on a collaborative solution
                                                     Concepts of change

Taking this further…
•   Any change in either role, practice and/or introduction of a new technology
    needs to ensure that it:

•   Replaces a current practice or procedure with a better one!

•   Improves that way in which a task is completed

•   Enhance efficiency

•   Shouldn't add an additional task or layer to what we already do.
                                                      Concepts of change

Importantly ...

•   Change implemented needs to be an outcome of an examination of the way
    a task is completed and what can be done to enhance the process, with a
    view of providing enhanced functionality for all stakeholders whilst reducing
    time and complexity.

•   Change on this level needs to again balance DET System requirements and
    school level requirements.
                           Section 2

So what needs to change anyway?
                                  So what needs to change anyway?

•   Currently the role of the SAM and the way that tasks are completed is
    dominated by a very specific software program only used by the NSW DET.

•   Finding OASIS expertise is difficult and held by a relatively small number of
    experienced staff.

•   Lack of capacity to initiate change of process due to the inflexible systems
    that are currently in place.

•   A complex role with limited support and at times understanding from school
                                 So what needs to change anyway?

•   Common tasks that are performed each day need to be separated from a
    software program that defines the workflow that limited numbers of people

•   The way in which the current role of the SAM is tied to OASIS makes it
    difficult to easily interchange staff throughout the system.

•   There is a real need to move to a more generic industry standard system to
    allow for greater skill transferral and inevitable larger pool of potential
    officers requiring less specific training.
                                   So what needs to change anyway?

•   We should be using systems built on what “everyone else” is using not
    continue to tie our roles to specific applications which are skill and training

•   We should be developing systems that support and enhance our own
    efficient practice that mould to our needs not dictate how we work.

•   Systems should be supportive of what we would like to achieve.
                                  So what needs to change anyway?

LMBR seeks to address these issues through:

•   Improving key front-line service delivery needs, underpinned by reliable and
    sustainable information systems.

•   Providing an [IT system] design independent of organisational structures,
    allowing flexibility in financial reporting and performance monitoring.

                                                              LMBR, DET 2009
                        So what needs to change anyway?

Success however is reliant on our own critical reflection as
  practitioners of how we would like to work and therefore
         have input into systems that will support us!
                                 So what needs to change anyway?

Pressure then is to:
•   Re-evaluate, examine and critically reflect on our roles and how they are
    performed which are based on processes and practices set in the 1980’s
    but still being applied… but in a very different office in 2009.
                                  So what needs to change anyway?

Support would be to:
•   Identify ways in which administrative systems can be made easier, more
    efficient with enhanced functionality

•   Reduce technical skill level required with an emphasis on generic and
    transferable skill sets ensuring technological sustainability!

•   Critically examine the way in which we view the role of the SAM, the
    changing school office and how this will influence the provision of services
    to our core stakeholders.
                         Section 3

The Changing School Office
                                             The changing school office

Schools are very good at considering and delivering continual improvement to:

•   Teacher Quality

•   Student outcomes and achievement

•   Building positive and productive relationships with parents

However until recently ….

•   Rarely have we considered how our school offices operate and how the
    administrative services they provide could be more effectively delivered
                                          The changing school office

In regard to the school office we understand and acknowledge that:

•   School Administration Managers are required to simultaneously manage
    multiple tasks accurately and efficiently in a busy and unpredictable
    environment that include:

    -    School financial activities
    -    DET system tasks
    -    The phone
    -    Walk in traffic (Parents and Prospective Parents)
    -    Teachers and students
                                           The changing school office

However have we considered that …

•   The average continuous time a SAM spends on a task in a day approximately
    15 minutes.

•   Most financial tasks undertaken have on average 4 interruptions prior to being
    completed from disparate sources.
                            The changing school office

Continued Interruptions lead to inefficient workflows
         with high unnecessary error rates.
                                             The changing school office
In regard to parents they are …

•   Increasingly time poor
•   Finding it difficult to interact with schools during operational hours due to
    increasing work commitments
•   wanting to be able to interact dynamically with their school online much the
    same was as we expect to be able to do so with institutions that we need to
    access after our school day!

    Our administrative systems generally have not addressed these as
          issues for consideration and operate on the premise that:

•   Parents are required to come into the school office to complete
    administrative tasks or if they can’t, expect students to be able to interact
    on their behalf either directly or via a teacher.
                              The changing school office

 These are critical issues to be addressed in developing
administrative systems that will support us to work better.
                                            The changing school office

Schools need to respond to:
•   Parent difficulties in accessing the office during school hours

Whilst introducing:

•   Administrative systems that introduce work flow efficiencies.

That is to:

•   Increase productive on-task time for the SAM through common task
    automation whilst reducing the need for parental face to face contact in the
    school office.
                         Section 4

On possible solution …
                              One possible solution…

A web based information and financial management system
              built on a self service model.
                       Online services and information ownership

•   Web delivery of administrative functions is an opportunity to provide a
    dynamic and scalable solution that can be developed to meet these
    conflicting needs…

Through the development of:

•   An online information and financial management system built on a self
    service client based information ownership model.

•   This allows users to freely interact and maintain their own information
          and complete common admin tasks via self registration and secure
    log in.
                         Online services and information ownership

Key design element

•   Online information collection of parent initiated and generated content
•   Information storage in online databases
•   Information access and manipulation for user defined purpose either online or
    through downloadable content (eg spreadsheets)

Key change

•   The SAM does not engage in data entry at source ….
•   The SAM accesses information entered by the parent and processes it once
                       Online services and information ownership
This model effectively manages:

•   Double handling of information and tasks
•   Input data error
•   Information loss

Most importantly:

•   Relieves the SAM of common tasks that can be automated and
    consolidated for management at more opportune times freeing up time for
    other more complex concentration intensive tasks.
                   Online services and information ownership

     User Interface            User Data      Office Interface

                               Web Server

Data creation, access & self                Data access & user
       management                              management

      Creation                                 Access
                                                               Section 5

Implementation at Australia Street Infants School
   Putting this into practice at Australia Street - A case study
                                                    School Context

School Size
•   PP5

School Programs
•   Lennox House – Schools as Communities Centre (400 families)
•   Pre-School (20 Enrolments)
•   K- 2 Infants School (110 Enrolments)

SASS Allocation
•   1 x SAM
•   1 x 0.4 SAO (2 days per week)
                                   School Population Demographic

•   Inner city families with one or more parents working in a combination of full
    and part time capacities.

•   Average of 2 children per family.

•   50% of children in Pre-School to Year 2 attend before and after school care
    5 days per week with another 30% of children picked up and dropped of to
    schools by other families by arrangement.

•   Parents indicate that they are time poor with considerable work and
    financial commitments making visiting the school office to settle accounts
    or hand in notes very difficult.
                                                 School Office Issues

•   High loss rate of notes going home and school activity fees being payed
    chronically late due to parents not being able to get to school.

•   Limited SASS assistance for the School Administration Manager.

•   Consistent interruptions from parents, teachers and student throughout the
    day prohibiting concentration intensive tasks from being successfully
    completed during school hours.

•   Maintenance of an effective communication strategy with families attending
    our community programs whilst maintaining an effective relationship with
    our waiting list.
                            School Office Issues

Most importantly though …

      Reduce the stress levels of the
      School Administration Manager
      Another interesting issue to consider…

   The phone will always ring


Parents work during school hours
               The development of our e-commerce services

Phase 1 – March 2008

•   Developed a scope and plan for a website that would be able to provide
    Secure e-commerce functionality to parents 24 hours / 7 days per week.

•   This required an understanding of key stakeholders that would interact with
    our website and their particular needs:
                   Website stakeholders and functional use

                       School Office

Current Families                           New Families
                                       Website stakeholders and functional use

                                                   School Office
                                                   •   Provision of financial services to parents 24/7
                                                   •   Increased access to school office functions whilst reducing face to face and
                                                       phone contact as primary means of interaction
                                                   •   Automation of information gathering, manipulation and storage
                                                   •   School policy access management (downloads)
                                                   •   Email as a strategy for developing effective relationships with our enrolment
                                                       waiting lists and registration lists

•   School shop                                                        •      School promotion
•   News & current events                                              •      Provisional enrolment management (User managed)
•   Student learning support and image galleries                       •      Program registrations (User managed)
•   E-forms for parent RSVP / Notifications                            •      School information access and interaction

Current Families                                                                                    New Families
                             Key functionalities that were identified

Capacity to:
•   Submit provisional enrolments and registrations online
•   Pay school activity fees and Pre-School fees
•   Purchase School Uniforms online
•   Access school policy information and news on demand
•   Electronic return of notes to school
•   Maintain effective communication with families that attend school programs on
    a casual basis
•   Maintain an effective relationship with our waiting lists
•   Functional Scalability
•   All functions to be remote managed via a PDA/Blackberry/Email
Our main page … All services immediately accessible.
       Online School Shop

For Parents

•   Provides a service to parents to pay school activity fees and/or purchase
    school uniforms and other school related items outside of school hours at a
    time convenient to them.

•   Receive email updates in regard to the status of their order including
    generation of receipts sent via email.
Screen Shots :: Online Shop (Client side)
      Online School Shop

For the school

•   Generation of payment certificates that allow for easy input into an EFTPOS
    terminal and receipted into OASIS (presently).

•   Generation of order invoices and delivery slips.

•   Email notification and online tracking of order status.

•   Automated stock control.
Screen Shots :: School Shop (Admin side)
       Online enrolment and registrations Servers
For Parents

•   Allows parents to submit provisional enrolments or registrations for our
    community programs directly to the school server outside of school and office

•   Parents are provided with a log in to self manage their submitted information
    over the life of their record being held on the server.

•   Parents receive regular enrolment emails as well as previous and current sent
    message automatically being added to a recent mailings page on the website

•   100% accuracy of information and 0% loss.
       Online enrolment and registrations Servers
For the school
•   Provisional Enrolment and Lennox House Registration information is
    submitted to and stored on the web server in a SQL database ensuring 100%
    accuracy of client information and 0% loss.

•   All records held on the server can be emailed allowing potential parents to
    receive regular enrolment news and updates.

•   School is notified via email of any changes made to an enrolment record or
    when a new record is submitted.

•   All applications submitted can be sorted and downloaded as an excel spread
    sheet eg: date submitted, local/non local, siblings etc allowing for efficient and
    accurate determinations for enrolments to be made.
Screen Shots :: Sample enrolment form (Client side)
Screen Shots :: Self service log in page (Client side)
Screen Shots :: Sent mailings page (Client side)
Screen Shots :: Database Login (Admin side)
Screen Shots :: Database Management (Admin side)
Screen Shots :: Student records (Admin side)

For Parents
•   Development of “e-forms” that allow parents to submit returns for any school

•   Provides a mechanism to submit an online student absence explanation, and
    enrolment into parent workshops as well as RSVP’s to school functions.

For the school

•   Significantly reduces the number of hand written or return slips that are
    required to be physically sorted by the class teacher and submitted to the
    office for collation.

•   Provides a mechanism via dropdown fields for e-forms to be either emailed to
    the school admin area or directly to the class teacher.

•   High percentage of notes returned on time as parents again are able to
    access and return required RSVP’s, permissions slips outside core school
Screen Shots :: Absence e-form (Client Side)
Screen Shots :: Parent workshop e-form (Client Side)
      School download database

For Parents

•   Implementation of a structured download database that allows for all of our
    school documentation and multimedia files such as podcasts. MP3 files and
    streaming movies to be accessed 24 hours / 7 days per week.

•   Access to important school information eg: enrolment policies quickly and
    easily leading to an enhancement of understanding of school policy based
    decision making.
       School download database

For the school

•   Provides an easy and accessible repository of important and regularly
    requested information leading to better communication of school policy
    perspectives to parents.

•   Allows the capacity to stream multimedia files of school events to the school
    community and around the world
Screen Shots :: School download page (Client side)
       Other functionalities

School Blog page
•   School Newsletters and current event news is posted to this page weekly

School Calender
•   merges multiple stakeholder calendars via colour coding for keeping track of
    all school events.

•   Both of these functionalities allows parents to subscribe to RSS feeds direct to
    their browser each time a new event is added.
Screen Shots :: School Blog Page
Screen Shots :: School Calendar
               The development of our e-commerce services

Phase 2 – April 2008
•   Website launch, training and encouragement of parents to interact with the
    school online

Phase 3 – May 2008 onwards
•   Gradual increase of uploading school information online with a gradual
    cessation of providing printed information.

Phase 4 – Where we are now!
•   Continued solicited user input for refinements and enhancements of the
    service which has included the development of a school age calculator and
    local area determiner for parents to access
Screen Shots :: School Age Calculator
Screen Shots :: Local Area Determiner
              Overall Success … Some statistics as at 22/4/2009
•   51, 899 hits per month (388,188 to date).

•   1046 actual visits to the school website per month.

•   All families in the school visit the website 5.7 times per month.

•   Average time spent on our site is 10 minutes with 4 page views

•   60% of the school has completed an online payment via the school website
    purchasing uniforms and paying school fees.

•   In 12 months $50,000 worth of online transactions have been processed.
                                  Overall Success … Some statistics

Lennox House Community Program registration Web server:

•   400 registrations at a rate of 5 – 10 per week.

•   25% of the database log in and interact with their information in a month
    including parents un-registering their record from the server when required.

•   Bulk emails sent on a monthly basis to 400+ families.

•   100% of families registered to attend our program online.
                                Overall Success … Some statistics

School provisional Enrolment Web Server:

•   150 Provisional Enrolment records held for Pre-School.

•   120 Provisional Enrolment records held for Kindergarten.

•   100% of provisional enrolments submitted online for 2009.

•   Quarterly enrolment news emailed to 270 families including weekly updates
    during the period in which offers were made.

•   Offers for placement in the school was done solely by email.
                                 School download database

Interesting fact:

 During the period that student enrolment offers were made,
      97 families downloaded a school enrolment policy!
                               Overall Success … Some statistics

Parent Comment on their experience of being part of our
online approach to enrolments …

“Whilst we were not successful in gaining a place in Pre-School, we appreciated
   all of the email communications providing regular updates on the enrolment
process. This enabled us to understand the decisions that were made taking the
                        mystery out of the whole process”
                         Subsequent impact on the school office

•   90% reduction in walk in traffic.

•   80% reduction in phone calls.

•   80% increase in Parent return of notes and timeliness of payments.

•   An estimated 2 hours per day / 10 hours per week of productive time has been
    gained that would be otherwise spent dealing with parent requests.

•   Capacity to pool similar tasks for bulk processing (eg receipting) at more
    opportune times

•   Recurring monthly financial tasks take 50% less time and with significantly
    less errors being reported.
                          Subsequent impact on the school office

•   90% of interactions of the school website happens between 7pm & 11pm.

•   45% of families have logged in to modify their submitted information over 12
    months on our enrolment database.

•   100% accuracy of information has been achieved through the provisional
    enrolment service.

•   100% accuracy of information has been achieved through the school shop
    service with 80% of families electing to pay fees online
                               Some final perspectives to consider

•   Change within the SASS workspace is inevitable and happening rapidly with
    both State and Commonwealth pressures for school accountability, student
    management and financial management.

It is important from a SASS point of view that we:

•   Re-evaluate, examine and critically reflect on our roles and how they are
    performed and not hold onto outdated processes and technology
•   Look beyond the desire to maintain the familiar and embrace the opportunity
    to become a critical partner in the change process
•   Re-valuate our philosophies of how offices work to move toward a self service
    model for providing services to parents via the web
•   Be a critical partner in facilitating change in our workplace for the better!
      Visit our website …
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