What a Business Process Analyst can do for K-12

A BPA can deliver valuable benefits to a school.
A BPA can deliver valuable benefits to a school.

Delivering financial savings, continuous innovation, and better execution is a must for every K-12 organization.  A Business Process Analyst (BPA) can deliver that benefit and allow the organization to recognize the required return on investment (ROI). With the funding cliff looming for K-12, there will be resource cuts that will impact daily operations and projects.  Leadership makes difficult decisions regarding essential projects when impacted by a reduction of revenue.

The BPA provides the research and data to determine which project to implement based on the highest ROI.   Many K-12 agencies have these positions in place today.  They are starting to shift from a tactical firefighter to a more internal consulting role.  This shift allows the analyst time to build internal relationships and become a more strategic partner between business and IT.

“This is how we’ve always done business” is a traditional mindset within the education culture.  Educators are not always receptive to change or to new technology.  Districts that have escaped this tradition are using their BPAs to overcome a culture of silos and negative mental models.

By acting as a liaison, the BPA establishes service and solution standards and processes that integrate business needs with IT operational efficiencies, providing constant innovation in an otherwise stagnant environment.  Because of their unique funding constraints, some K-12 organizations feel that their current technology is sufficient, while at the same time investing in quick-hit solutions that do not provide long term ROI.  They do not realize the opportunities missed unless they assign someone to monitor the results of these projects.  The same applies to business processes–unless they are being evaluated through key performance indicators (KPI), the organization doesn’t recognize the need for process efficiencies.

Organizations like the Council of Great City Schools provide a sounding board for other K-12 organizations to compare their KPIs to an industry standard.

As in the private sector, K-12 performance can be measured across districts to determine strengths and weaknesses within the organization.  The business process analyst can take these results and work with the business and IT teams to establish governance through standardization of technology and processes.  They map the end-to-end business processes to show duplication of effort and redundancy in systems.  A BPA subsequently researches solutions within the current ERP system to support decommission of shadow systems and automate manual business processes.  The BPA is responsible for aligning the mission statement and goals of the district by applying best practices.   Such technical and process efficiencies, for example, can relieve the labor costs and/or burden off the schools so that they can concentrate more on the delivery of instruction and student achievement.

Constant innovation keeps an organization from becoming stale and provides more opportunities to optimize savings.    All K-12 organizations looking to save money, seeking a return on investment, and establishing governance through standardization of technology should consider hiring a BPA.

A December 2009 USA Today article reported a nearly $15 billion state budget shortfall for 2010. In addition, the current federal stimulus funds will soon expire, leaving some K-12 education agencies struggling to find funding in an already lean system.

K-12 organizations are reaping benefits from the stimulus dollars but also are recognizing that the revenue is merely a band-aid.  Organizations are turning to process improvements and automation to help streamline everyday production and fill in gaps for decreasing resources.  As a result of this trend, in June of 2009, market analyst Gartner estimated that by 2013, “business process management” (BPM) will be an essential system for companies trying to maintain efficiency.

BPM is not a one- time process improvement or re-engineering. It is the focus on continuous process improvement and optimization. While money is being cut in all other areas, Gartner also stated that “despite a turbulent economy, companies expect to increase BPM spending by more than 10 percent in 2009,” hence creating or maintaining existing positions, such as a BPA, that support this effort.

This is more challenging for the K-12 organization that may not have the option to reserve funding for this position.  However, the savings realized through the work of an analyst can more than pay for themselves.

Laura Ascione
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