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Education’s Administration Challenge [Infographic]

Many schools today use frevvo to decrease the costs and time spent by faculty and administrators on paperwork. By using online forms and automated workflows, we can reduce the heavy workload carried by an ever-growing amount of administrators.

Increased, and often excessive, spending on school administrators has earned the nickname “administrative bloat.” All levels of education suffer from “administrative bloat,” but perhaps none more than degree-granting postsecondary institutions. For the 2016-17 school year, these institutions spend a total of $584 billion. The more money universities spend, the more tuition prices for students rise.

But schools at the K12 level aren’t immune to education’s administration challenge. The amount of administrative bloat varies significantly depending on what part of the country you are in. Thirteen states, as well as the District of Columbia, spend over a thousand dollars per each student just on administrative costs. On the other side of the spectrum, Arizona only spends around $450 per student and Utah’s administrative costs are $463 per student. As a percentage of total spending, New Mexico spends the largest portion on administrative costs while New York and Massachusetts spend the smallest fraction.

No matter how much they currently spend, almost all schools could save substantial amounts of money by decreasing administrative bloat. Within the educational system, administrator’s tasks often include managing time off requests, creating expense reports, processing purchase orders, working on academic boards, and more.

Clearly, extra administrative positions are being added to manage a growing list of tasks. But what if administrative work could be done in far less time? With automated workflow software, it can. If expense reports, purchase orders, and other workflows can automatically route to the appropriate person, without administrators manually filling out information and working as middlemen between parties, they could save a significant amount of time. 

When teachers embrace automation for their onboarding process, when they request time off, and other interactions involving administrators, they save time as well. This time can now be used for higher-level work, such as replacing administrators on academic boards. Districts should ask administrators and teachers what the most repetitive and tedious tasks they do are and find ways to automate those tasks. 

Automating simple administrative tasks frees these staff members up so they can focus on other important tasks. Automation also prevents wasting resources such as paper and ink. Not wasting resources allows schools to save money while at the same time helping the environment. Some schools go completely “paperless.”

Learn more about the extremeness of administrative bloat, what causes it, how to reduce it, and more in the frevvo’s infographic. The sooner schools decrease administrative bloat, the sooner they can start saving money. The redistributing of funds after saving money can directly benefit students’ educational experiences.

Education's Administration Challenge [Infographic]

The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) defines the term “administrative bloat” as “the increase in spending on administrators.” The spending increase is a result of a rising amount of administrators being hired as well as higher salaries for people in administrative positions. At first glance, one might think this an effect of inflation and that enrollment rates are also increasing the amount of faculty.

However, while extra managerial and professional administrative workers are continually being hired, the number of faculty and staff per administrator continues to decline. In much of the country, administrator pay is climbing at a higher rate than teacher pay. While having fewer instructors would lower the quality of students’ education, decreasing the amount of administrative staff would have less of an impact. 

You can’t eliminate the tasks these people do; however, many of these tasks could be streamlined through online portals and automation and require far fewer people. For example, processing grades and report cards and reviewing applications for missing information could all be done online. 

Registration uses up innumerable staff hours as administrators respond to people’s questions in-person, through emails, and over the phone. Chatbots and automated responses to common questions could be the first line of defense before talking directly with an administrator. Real people are still necessary, but don’t need to waste as much time reanswering the same questions when they could be focusing on more unique situations. 

Travel requests, purchase orders, new staff onboarding, time off requests, and expense reports are all possible to be automated. You can also save money on administrative costs by reducing the amount of paper you require administrators to use. Some schools go as far as to be completely paperless. Buying paper and ink and fixing printers can become expensive.

Processes involving printing and passing around papers are also time-consuming and prone to error. When automated form processing is used instead of paper forms, these tasks are completed much more quickly and require less billable hours. No time is wasted searching through filing cabinets for missing forms.

More technology isn’t always better. You should frequently have hardware audits to eliminate technology that is out-of-date or redundant. Remember to check if your applications have the same or overlapping features as well. It’s better to pay for a few types of software to fulfill your needs than many. When you decrease administrative bloat to save money and increase efficiency, faculty and students benefit.

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