Published on 2012/02/17

Competing in a Global Market – What’s Your Competitive Advantage?

Competing in a Global Market – What’s Your Competitive Advantage?
When competing in a crowded market, you need to increase quality and delivery while keeping costs low - in short, reduce waste! Photo by Stuart Spivack.

The world is shrinking, the pace of change is quickening, funding is reducing and you’re under constant pressure to achieve more with less, and at the same time deliver improved quality. So how do you improve quality, reduce costs and extend delivery?

How do you ensure you remain competitive in an increasingly competitive market place?

Traditional educational institutions when under financial pressure automatically reduce staffing numbers through redundancy and early retirement. Not unreasonable when you consider that approximately 66% of an educational institution’s costs relate to staffing. Other options will include reducing the marketing budget, reducing time spent on staff CPD (continuing professional development) activities… some may even restructure the whole institution in an effort to make savings on operating costs.

Few educational institutions will look for the answer in new technologies or new processes. Some educational institutions will employ Management Consultants (a rewarding pursuit!), to advise them what they need to do. However, there are not so many who will look inwardly for the answer, increasingly and more often than not, the answer lies within the educational institution itself.

Many commercial companies turn to a globally acceptable business tools—Business Improvement Techniques (BIT).  BIT is not a magic wand, it won’t fix all of your problems overnight, nor will it save a business or educational institution, which is not financially viable.

What it will do, is give you and your teams the tools to solve your own problems. BIT is a structured business improvement model which is based on tried and trusted problem solving techniques, process analysis tools and – good old-fashioned team working, none of which is rocket science.

Using small teams within each operational area or process, BIT can transform the way you work.

Amongst other things, BIT focuses on waste by examining how you can: avoid, eliminate or reduce waste. Waste can come in many forms.

It could be:

  • Storing too many enrollment forms
  • Storing a years worth of curriculum materials
  • Not recycling materials
  • Too much walking from one place to another
  • Too much traveling between campus sites

There is the obvious stuff; like leaving lights on in summer or overnight, keeping the heating/air conditioning and computers on overnight (because IT don’t like you switching them off). All that is waste, you may as well put hard cash into the bin and burn it.

There are other forms of waste. It’s a cliché in quality terms accepted but nevertheless I honestly believe that a “right first time, every time” attitude is what it takes to survive and keep the students, internal and external customer happy. Good enough is not good enough. Why accept poor quality, either from your own people and processes or that of others (suppliers)? Ask yourself the question – how much work am I having to do in order to correct someone else’s error/mistake?

What am I suggesting?

A structured approach to business improvement using problem solving tools and techniques with established teams will give you a reduction in costs by reducing waste. You should see an improvement in productivity by improved individual and team performance and reduced waste. You will see an improvement in quality through team-based problem solving. You should see an improvement in customer satisfaction through a “right first time, every time” philosophy.

In closing, I would ask you to do one thing before you turn the lights off in your educational institution. Take a long hard look at your institution and ask yourself the question: “How lean are my processes?”

Don’t forget to turn the light off (eliminate that waste).

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Readers Comments

Warren Smith 2012/02/20 at 9:30 am

Looks like a few simple waste-cutting techniques could lead to huge savings for institutions. Doesn’t seem that complicated… is it easier said than done though?

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