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Why do I have to Change? Leading and managing change in the school office Bernard Cheng RSRG Conference 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Why do I have to Change? Leading and managing change in the school office Bernard Cheng RSRG Conference 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why do I have to Change? Leading and managing change in the school office Bernard Cheng RSRG Conference 2009

2 Section 1Concepts of change Section 2So what needs to change anyway? Section 3The changing school office Section 4Online services and information ownership as a solution Section 5- Putting this into practice at Australia Street - Some final perspectives to consider Overview of Presentation

3 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

4 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

5 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

6 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

7 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

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 Identify outdated processes for completing common tasks which are so often not questioned..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

9 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

10 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

11 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

12 Pressure What are the issues driving a need to re-evaluate the way we do things? Support A change in practice built on a collaborative solution Concepts of change

13 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.

14 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. Concepts of change

15 So what needs to change anyway? Section 2

16 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 executive. So what needs to change anyway?

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

18 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 intensive. 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?

19 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?

20 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?

21 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?

22 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. So what needs to change anyway?

23 The Changing School Office Section 3

24 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

25 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

26 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

27 Continued Interruptions lead to inefficient workflows with high unnecessary error rates. The changing school office

28 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

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

30 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. The changing school office

31 On possible solution … Section 4

32 One possible solution… A web based information and financial management system built on a self service model.

33 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

34 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

35 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.

36 Web Server User Interface Data creation, access & self management Data access & user management Office Interface Creation Access User Data Online services and information ownership

37 Section 5 Implementation at Australia Street Infants School Putting this into practice at Australia Street - A case study

38 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)

39 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.

40 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.

41 School Office Issues Most importantly though … Reduce the stress levels of the School Administration Manager

42 Another interesting issue to consider… The phone will always ring and Parents work during school hours

43 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:

44 Website stakeholders and functional use School Office New Families Current Families

45 Website stakeholders and functional use School Office New Families Current Families 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 promotion Provisional enrolment management (User managed) Program registrations (User managed) School information access and interaction School shop News & current events Student learning support and image galleries E-forms for parent RSVP / Notifications

46 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

47 Our main page … All services immediately accessible.

48 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.

49 Screen Shots :: Online Shop (Client side)

50 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.

51 Screen Shots :: School Shop (Admin side)

52 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 hours. 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.

53 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.

54 Screen Shots :: Sample enrolment form (Client side)

55 Screen Shots :: Self service log in page (Client side)

56 Screen Shots :: Sent mailings page (Client side)

57 Screen Shots :: Database Login (Admin side)

58 Screen Shots :: Database Management (Admin side)

59 Screen Shots :: Student records (Admin side)

60 E-forms For Parents Development of “e-forms” that allow parents to submit returns for any school activity. Provides a mechanism to submit an online student absence explanation, and enrolment into parent workshops as well as RSVP’s to school functions.

61 E-forms 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 hours.

62 Screen Shots :: Absence e-form (Client Side)

63 Screen Shots :: Parent workshop e-form (Client Side)

64 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.

65 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

66 Screen Shots :: School download page (Client side)

67 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.

68 Screen Shots :: School Blog Page

69 Screen Shots :: School Calendar

70 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

71 Screen Shots :: School Age Calculator

72 Screen Shots :: Local Area Determiner

73 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.

74 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.

75 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.

76 School download database Interesting fact: During the period that student enrolment offers were made, 97 families downloaded a school enrolment policy!

77 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”

78 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.

79 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

80 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!

81 Visit our website … You can visit our website at: or This presentation can be downloaded from our website at:

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