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Business Process Improvement (BPI) for School Districts

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Why BPI?

Business process improvement (BPI) is simply a systematic approach to helping any organization optimize its business processes to get better results. How does this benefit a school district?

School districts use business processes to manage their cash flow and run their operations. Bills to a school district are paid the same way bills for any other organizations are paid — they just happen to be bills for different things.

Businesses pursue business process re-design to increase profit. School districts pursue business process redesign to save money on administrative costs and drive more money into the classroom. In times of shrinking revenues, improving effectiveness and efficiency of operation is critical to protecting vulnerable academic programs from cost-cutting.

In our experience, our proven methodology for analyzing, measuring and redesigning business practices can reduce administrative overhead in the management of both operational and capital funds by 5 to 20 percent of operating budget.

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IDEAS' 4-Step Plan for School District BPI

The entire focus of IDEAS’ practice in business process improvement for school districts is this: to drive money from administration into the classroom. Our 4-step methodology is rooted in the iterative 4‑step quality assurance cycle of continuous improvement: Plan - Do - Check - Act, then start over again at Plan.

Step 1. Plan
Perform an IPPA
BPI cycle Our Independent Program and Project Analysis (IPPA) is a limited business process audit that follows a quality assurance audit protocol. We will analyze and map top-level administrative processes and selected critical procedures. Areas of special focus may be identified in collaboration with district leadership, based on known problems or critical needs. Through a structured process of information gathering and observation, we evaluate the effectiveness of a process and the quality of the output. We look for redundancies, re-work loops, manual processes that could be automated and any other inefficiencies that are consuming resources which could be redirected to the classroom. The findings and recommendations describe what was found and suggest changes that might improve effectiveness or productivity and save money and/or resources.
Step 2. Do
Select Target Recommendations to Implement
Once our IPPA report is delivered, the findings and recommendations must be reviewed by district leadership and an implementation plan prepared. A typical IPPA identifies ways to recover 5 to 20 percent of the operating budget of a district. However, some recommendations may require an investment (such as purchasing new software) or may be impractical to implement in the middle of the school or fiscal year, or may be dependent on other recommendations being implemented first. The district must select the targets, the sequence and the timetable for implementing recommendations.
Step 3. Check
Set Measurable Targets and Establish Monitoring Methods
After selecting the recommendations to be implemented, an implementation plan is prepared that defines not only the steps to be taken, but the targeted improvements and how they will be measured. Measuring and verifying improvement is critical, because that is the only way that the district can identify the resources it will regain and immediately redeploy them into the classroom.
Step 4. Act
Business Process Improvements and Implementation

Process redesign should always begin and end with those who receive the output of the workflow, the “customers.” This is a different perspective for most school districts, and it may take some time for process owners to “get it.” While many districts have excellent technology plans for supporting curriculum, they often do not adequately understand office automation and management information systems and how those technologies can best be configured and integrated to support their own business processes. Process improvements are designed to reduce paperwork and bureaucracy, while strengthening fiscal accountability and ease of reporting. IDEAS can provide the expert assistance to identify and configure the most cost effective way to deliver the identified improvements. We use the principles of usability engineering to shape a new process that is measurably easier (and therefore faster and less costly) for process owners (users) to execute. Consistent application of quality assurance protocols ensures that the redesigned processes can meet the most rigorous scrutiny by outside auditors.