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Time to Think Again!

Malcolm Cooper

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone in the world and has forced every aspect of life to be completely rethought and whilst it will be some time before we can contemplate returning to anything approaching our previous normal life, if we ever can, there is no doubt the lockdown cannot exist indefinitely. At some point we will aim to return to some modified form of the life we once new.

For the FE Sector there are many unknown quantities. When will Colleges re-open to all, how will income be affected, how much will apprenticeships be reduced and how can we most effectively manage the concept of social distancing? They will need to rethink in many areas of operation, so what better way to do it than by applying process mapping.

We at MCA are already beginning to be approached by colleges who have realised this and want to know how our process mapping works. We are only too happy to oblige and of course, having already ourselves re-orientated our whole business because of Covid-19 towards on-line operation (our process mapping was always cloud-based), can oblige.

Following the pandemic, it is inevitable that the level of college activity will change and this could be either positively, if there are more people looking to FE to make them gainfully active, or more likely negatively due to lower demand. Colleges will need to rethink their cost base, which is, of course a product of the way operations it undertakes are performed. Will a college be able to retain the same level of staffing in the face of falling demand or will there be a desperate need to reduce costs leading to a rethink of the way that it conducts its business.

How much will its delivery methods change? How much will be delivered on-line in future? Will support staff still be required to attend college each day, or has working from home become not only do-able but preferable? The fewer bodies who use college premises, the less college premises it needs and the lower its cost-base.

There are so many areas that need to be rethought. One lesson that has been painfully learned in this country during the pandemic is that to successfully deal with a challenge requires a clearly thought out and documented plan, to which everyone involved can refer and be guided. That is the definition of a process map.

We at MCA realised early on during the crisis that the nature of the support we offer, whether it is advice, support or interim managers can be delivered as well on-line as in the flesh. Whilst there are undoubtedly some situations in which only face to face will do, there are no doubt certain benefits of on-line working.

Colleges will need to re-examine in some detail the whole learner journey and how it is affected at each stage. Marketing, admissions, enrolment and delivery will all need to change to reflect the new world.

In days of old, even before Covid-19, yes there was a time before Covid-19, process mapping was carried out by a team of “suits” who visited, took notes and returned a hard copy map which, if you were lucky, would be accurate. But even if it was, it would soon become outdated. The new world has process mapping that is in the cloud, with a map that can be developed on-line and which has an “as is” version developed in workshops with those who actually do the work and a “to be” version developed in conjunction with the College SLT, which will describe the way forward. As the map is on-line, it is available for the college to update whenever that is necessary.

One of the issues with Covid-19 was that we only began to think about how to deal with it after it had happened. Don’t make the same mistake in your college, think about it now!

Malcolm Cooper, MD, MCA Cooper Associates

MCA Cooper Associates are also running a free Process Mapping webinar on 7th July 2020

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