At the turn of a new year, millions of people resolve to improve their lives by building their knowledge and skills. But how do the continuing education (CE) professionals that develop these life-changing programs approach their own resolutions? Because they juggle a tremendous number of tasks—from program development to marketing to materials development and distribution—many of our friends and colleagues in the training and education industry indicated they are most interested in finding new ways to maximize their time. Here’s the advice we’d like to offer: Accomplish more by doing less.
We have identified three low-value yet time-consuming tasks that CE professionals too often take on themselves, thereby sacrificing time spent on strategies to evolve and grow programs.
1. Packing and Shipping Boxes
Most CE Directors don’t enter the profession to learn to pack a tight box or memorize international shipping tables. It’s easy to underestimate how much time is spent collecting, collating, packing and shipping course materials to various locations until you take it off your to-do list. While this is an extremely important task—course materials need to arrive at their respective locations on time—it’s one that a reliable, outside resource can easily handle on your behalf. The same cannot be said for, say, developing strategies for integrating interactive technologies into course curriculum. If you’re sacrificing the latter for the former, then you’ve just become an extremely expensive Shipping Specialist for your organization.
2. Order Entry
Many organizations use online systems for course registration and order fulfillment. But too often, these are two separate and disparate systems, leaving you and your staff with the task of manually taking the orders from one system and entering them into another…multiple times a day. This becomes a continual distraction from your true mission. There are plenty of solutions available for budgets of all sizes to integrate these processes, leaving you to simply monitor and track program performance.
3. Managing the Inventory vs. Content Updates vs. Cost Equation
It’s not an easy equation to balance—maintaining and tracking the appropriate levels of inventory to keep up with changing course demand while also managing content changes with minimal print waste…at the best price per unit cost—particularly when you have a limited amount of time to dedicate to the task. There are third party print and inventory experts out there whose full-time role is to formulate, execute and manage specific inventory strategies for customers. Surprisingly, this strategy may include implementing a print-on-demand program for greater long-term savings—something that many organizations neglect to consider.
As we move into 2016, economic indicators point to a potentially strong year for professional training. This means increased opportunities for CE professionals to expand offerings and increase attendance, but only if you can more effectively allocate your time. Look for ways to eliminate or outsource necessary but low-value tasks to the respective experts so you can focus on what you do best—delivering successful educational programs. Yes, it will require outsourcing a portion of your overall budget, but it’s generally less than most think, and because you have more time to improve and grow your programs versus simply executing them, the return on investment can be considerable.
What tasks do you resolve to take off your plate in 2016? We’d love to know!