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Keeping Your School’s Plates Spinning in Uncertain Times – Part 2

In this series of articles we are considering the challenge for school Leadership and the Business Manager of balancing competing priorities and preparing for the impact of a crisis.

In Part 1 we looked at financial impact and making opportunity of a crisis. In this part we look at how analysing operational activities can help prepare for challenges ahead.

Part 2

Planning and preparing 

What can we do to be ready for a crisis? There are a variety of proactive preparations we can do to reduce vulnerability and risk in any confronting situation. 

First, stop! Stop the day-to-day operational actions, move away from today’s ‘demanding priorities’ and get in your virtual helicopter. Hover over the business side of your school and look at the activities you and your team are doing. Especially, look at those activities that can be most materially affected in a crisis. Having identified them, ask why and how you are doing them. 

There is no delusion that in every school, activities are completed to a backdrop of very similar confining factors: time, budget, workload, personnel and compliance. This is in a normal situation. But then thrown in the crisis bomb and impact can be major! So, the objective of analysing our operational activities is to reduce vulnerability and create future stability. 


First analyse your activities into one of three groups, identifying as many as possible which can be completed effectively off site: 

  1. Onsite activities – those which need to completed locally, require the knowledge available on campus, need stakeholder interaction. 
  2. Collaborative activities – group support services of different campuses or entities, collective tasks performed by faith/school groups; services provided by school associations or similar. 
  3. Outsourced activities – use of an external bureau, engage expert support, automate and implement best of breed systems. 

There are benefits of each group of activities and the challenge is to put each activity into the most economically beneficial group as possible. 

  1. On-site benefits – use unique team skills, develop relationships with community, students and staff. 
  2. Collaboration benefits – efficiency and economy of processes, central completion of same tasks, staff training opportunities, sharing of data, flexibility.  
  3. Outsourcing benefits – effective completion of transactional and compliance tasks, introduction of expertise, reassign resources, flexibility, resilience. 

The added value benefit of collaboration and outsourcing activities is that the Business Manager and their team are not bogged down with compliance and administration. Instead they use time and resources to develop and innovate, which creates an overall improved service to stakeholders at less cost. In addition, the Business Manager is able to create a shield for the operations of the school in preparation for a crisis situation, reducing future vulnerability and risk. 

…the topic we will consider in part 3!