Performance Education has had RTOManager as its enterprise resource planning (ERP) business management software since 2012. Late in 2013, after continuing to experience exponential growth they created a ‘National Business Improvement Manager’ role, with a remit to put more strategy behind, and process around their operations and the technology.
The Customer & Their Requirements
Opening in 2006, Performance Education was established to improve the careers of professionals in Australia who have English as their second language. Today they are the market leader, operating three core business units: Performance Education; Performance Careers & Performance English, across two campuses (Sydney and Melbourne). They employ a team of over 100 people and have appeared on the BRWs Fast Starters list twice.
Performance Education started out with a simple ELICOS data management system with separate software managing their ﬁnancials and sales; its Melbourne campus opened with just paper and excel. Experiencing such high-growth they couldn’t afford to spend more time data entering and number crunching than on student care and recruitment. In August 2012, they chose Meshed RTOManager as the platform to help them automate processes and increase efﬁciency.
Results were realised in the early days of adopting Meshed RTOManager. Performance Education was convinced it had a system that could keep up with their phenomenal growth, and a technology partner that could customise its systems and develop the technology to help them maintain their competitive edge.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. According to Performance Education’s National Business Improvement Manager, Ian Aird, “installing an ERP into an enterprise is a big and bold move if you don’t have any IT capability in house. Without your ‘ducks in a row’, you can end up in a world of pain.”
The ducks he refers to are business processes. Having worked in numerous colleges and RTOs over the years he ﬁnds there are a lot of players in the industry driven by good intent but lacking the required business experience to succeed in such a competitive market. “Sound business processes must exist to grow cleanly, optimise your product and service, maintain tight margins, manage staff, and save money and time. It is hard to grow your business from small to medium and then to big. The danger is you grow too fast and end up damaging your business. You must have processes in place for the system follow.”
Performance Education categorised Meshed RTOManager’s installation in their business in two Phases. Phase I covered the first twelve months of operation: implementing the system, training the team, bringing across business information, and embedding it into the company to manage a wide range of business functions across two campuses. Performance Education also invested in a number of customisation and development projects along the way. While the evolution of Meshed RTOManager in the business was successful, and its scalability impressive, Performance Education knew its system and the team behind it could manage things even better. Phase II started with the creation of the new operations role. The remit was clear: put business processes in place, focus on outcomes and ensure process drives technology.
One of the problems Performance Education faced, which is quite common in the industry, was a high turnover of staff. With no one person overseeing operations, development tasks could be requested by anyone. The new operations manager often found the person who had requested the development had left and the actual development work wasn’t being used to its full potential. “Many companies would have taken advantage of this; the Meshed RTOManager team behaved ethically from the start,” he says.
“The real added value we have gained from Meshed RTOManager is the team behind it. They go above and beyond. They know the technology makes business processes better, and not vice versa. They aren’t afraid to push back, to question the requirement within the operation, and to ask what process the development supports. This ‘tough love’ style of service has been very important to our company; they have helped us gain clarity around our processes and the system. We are a better for it.”
Removing some of the flexibility around Meshed RTOManager and putting clear steps in place for staff to follow has been a focus of Phase II. “Having five people perform the same function in five different ways is the fastest way to cause errors in the data. We had to automate the process so each task was completed the same way every time. Process does not mean unbreakable boundaries or business inflexibility; we put process in place to enable our business to grow efficiently”.
Performance Education describes some of the customisation projects they have undertaken with Meshed RTOManager as “quite special” and they are about to rollout new payment and attendance processes. “Attendance monitoring is so easy. A task that took one to two hours is now completed in ten minutes. It’s not just saving time, it’s error free, transparent and completely trackable,” he says.
“Efficiencies created by Meshed RTOManager can be as simple as automated emails and diary recording. Emails to students can be copied to the sender, an agent or even an employer. With Meshed RTOManager you operate purely within the system. No uploading and downloading, no importing or exporting and no errors. It’s sexy software”.
Performance Education and Meshed RTOManager are currently working on two integration projects. The first will integrate data between Meshed RTOManager and Moodle enabling students who enroll through Meshed RTOManager to have instant user access to Moodle, enrolling them in the relevant course and accessing all elearning tools and material. All grades and assessment outcomes from Moodle will be automatically uploaded into Meshed RTOManager where students can access them via their user portals (on any device). The second is integrating Meshed RTOManager with MYOB, setting Meshed RTOManager as the single source of truth to manage accounts, generating monthly bulk reports to reconcile in MYOB.
“These types of customisation projects are always mutually beneficial,” says Meshed RTOManager founder, Pramesh Khadka. Development tasks that have been undertaken for Performance Education have been rolled out as modules within the system and other clients can now benefit from multi-campus modules and e-learning tools. He says, “it’s not about accounting for every hour; going beyond the call for clients is part of our core values. We keep our technology moving with industry demands by partnering with leading companies like Performance Education”.