Although neither Outlook nor Excel were designed as management tools, using a combination of these two systems to manage maintenance and contracts is done by many schools, and is certainly an option. Many schools business managers and heads will remember when schools were managed using paper-based systems, verbal instructions and the old standby, a good memory!
Many schools business managers and heads will remember when schools were managed using paper-based systems, verbal instructions and the old standby, a good memory!
Virtually all schools now have more robust systems in place. We’re often asked by governors and heads (not by SBMs, interestingly!)
‘what’s wrong with using spreadsheets and Outlook?’
The 1,000 schools who’ve implemented Every define the key benefits of moving onto proper management systems as:
1. Proper management systems drive value and offer significant ROI, with typical payback times of one month, eg by allowing premises and site staff spend to reduce, by cutting contract costs and avoiding expiries and rollovers and sharing key data with other schools.
2. Redefining the role of the SBM by cutting the administrative burden and freeing up time for income generation activities has transformed budgets for the school and the relationship between SBMs and heads, as well as the administrative pressure on the head in small schools, allowing them to spend more time on leading teaching and learning.
3. Smart systems educate users at all levels (governors, heads, SBMs, site staff and teachers) as to best practice. Staff are supported, guided with tools and templates and communication is made easier, building strong, effective teams. All building users have a greater sense of ownership and access to information.
4. The quality of the teaching and learning environment improves as maintenance schedules reflect best practice and best-value suppliers and contractors are found issues are resolved more swiftly; the standard and availability of equipment and assets improves, offering real benefits to pupils.
5. Reporting is detailed, automatic and of the quality and detail that allows management decisions to be taken. Trends are revealed and issues and opportunities to improve are clear.
There are fewer and fewer schools using basic systems, or generic software for purposes it clearly wasn’t designed for. The issues they’ve removed are:
1. The administrative burden of running multiple systems. The time spent switching between systems and entering data multiple times is considerable. Outlook and Excel cannot write to each other, so if you want alerts, you need to set up all 150 recurring activities in Outlook (and keep these up to date), but if you want reports / audit trails and the ability to organise information then you also need to enter in Excel. As neither system allows you to link to key documents (contrcats, quotes, legislation, inspection reports), then you need another system for this, possibly in multiple programs such as Word, Adobe and PowerPoint.
The individual systems are time consuming (email has become so ubiquitous that many of us no longer consider how much of our work day is spent opening, scanning, forwarding or replying to email!). Information is in different places. There is no one place where anyone can find all relevant information. This means information goes missing. Even the most organised manager will have trouble finding historical data, which means it is more time consuming to progress reactive maintenance and complete planned maintenance.
Schools may ‘cope’ with this way of working, but there are certainly easier, quicker and more robust (in terms of disaster recovery, auditing, reporting) systems.
1. A single system. Once information is entered, it is available for planning, alert, reporting and auditing purposes, and is instantly and automatically communicated and available to view by all those in the school who need to know.
2. Automation, so the job holder does not need to waste time doing repetitive tasks.
3. A high degree of customisation, so however your school is led and managed, and however large or complex your office and site teams, our system can adapt to meet your needs.
4. Lack of business continuity. Schools with bespoke systems are reliant on one or two individuals, who may of course leave (and of course it always the best SBMs and site managers who are most likely to have the ambition to move on to roles at a more senior level), or be absent.
Every is by far the most widely used schools operational management system in the UK (other systems offer a small part of what we do and have not been wisely adopted).
In addition, we offer free unlimited training for all school users, for the full length of your subscriptions.
Schools using Every benefit from knowing that should key staff leave, finding a replacement familiar with the system is high.
If not, Every is easy to use and much easier to start working with than alternatives, including Excel.
We will train and support new post holders, or interim staff not only in using Every, but in the principles of effective operational management, through phone and email training, electronic guides and a large guidance library.
One of our key sales drivers is SBMs who have moved to a new school following a promotion (typically to Director level), and who wish to purchase the system for their new school.
This is interesting in several ways:
1. The most ambitious and competent SBMs were our first, and are still our most loyal customers
2. Using Every has given them a level of management insight and achievement levels that have contributed towards them achieving promotion]
3. Using Every has freed up sufficient time to allows SBMs to progress other initiatives within school such as income generation (building lettings, alumni programmes)
4. Once an SBM has started using Every, they do not want to work without it. They value both the difference it makes to their own ability to manage and report to a high standard and with ease, and the value it delivers for the school
5. Inadequate risk management. Every ensures all a school’s key documents – contracts, policies, plans, quotes – are securely stored off-site. There’s unlimited storage for customers, and access to key documents for all users a school wants (eg chair of governors, head and SBM).
6. Lack of management data. Excel is a sophisticated tool, but we have yet to meet a school who has set up the required functions and fields to give management data of the type schools are now expected to have.Certainly, any school wishing to take advantage of letting opportunities, or converting to Academy status will need high-quality, reliable and easily accessible data as to the condition of buildings and equipment, the status of assets and the true costs involved in maintenance. Every provides management data of such a high standard, that it has been adopted by several large Academy chains. Just as with teaching and learning, comprehensive (though simply presented) management data allows for clear and effective plans to be put in place.
7. Lack of accountability. If an outlook calendar alert is ignored then there is no escalation process, meaning that if the postholder fails to complete an activity, then head and governors may not find this out for some time. Excel spreadsheets tend to function as personal systems. Heads and governors have to route any queries as to contracts or the condition of the learning environment through the SBM. Whilst they bear legal responsibility for legal procurement, health and safety and compliance, they do not have access to the records that relate to these activities.
Teachers have no visibility of: issues that are outstanding or how long issues take to resolve or when issues they have reported that have a real impact on learning (such as the functioning of whiteboards) will be resolved.
With Every, governors and heads can have their own log-ins, allowing them to access key information from work, home or anywhere with an internet connection.
Overdue issues, activities and contracts can be flagged automatically to heads and governors.
The site manager or SBM can view the site team’s workload and speed of resolution and teachers can log, view and receive updates on issues on laptops or phones.
It is a whole-school system, which encourages high standards, information sharing and teamwork.
8. Lack of audit trails, inconsistent record keeping, human error, malicious practice. Excel spreadsheets can be wrongly populated, left incomplete, and data deleted or amended. Emails can be deleted, either accidentally or deliberately. Read receipts are unreliable.
Every creates robust audit trails: data cannot be deleted, though it can be updated. Prompts ensure all necessary data is entered by users.
9. Isolation from new ideas, changes to guidance or best practice. So long as schools use their own systems, individual schools are isolated from new ideas and best practice.
Every provides an online guidance library, covering everything from school security plans to brickwork inspections, cleaning contract specifications to benchmarking costs.
Our suppliers and connections module allows schools to connect with other schools in their federation or Academy group, cluster group or nationally. They can then share supplier information and other key information. Supplier reviews and recommendations can be shared with the entire 1,000+ school community of Every users.
Our forums allow schools to share information in a secure schools-only environment (no suppliers, no local authorities, to encourage frank discussion).
All school customers will benefit from our ongoing programme of development, ensuring your school stays at the forefront of operational management.