A mistake most of us probably fall into from time to time is perceiving the value of things we buy in terms of the amount of use we get out of them. So we buy a car and think that unless we are driving it constantly, we are not getting full value for money. Or we buy a drill and think that unless we are constantly going about drilling holes, we are not getting full worth. But in reality, value is not always measured just by use; what is often more important is how you use a thing and what you use it for. Quality over quantity.
This is quite true of our Analyst tool. An investment into Analyst is clearly a big undertaking for a college, and of course you want to see a return on this investment. However, return on investment should not be measured just by use, but rather what you are using it for.
With this in mind, below are some simple tips which we hope will encourage you to use Analyst in a specific and targeted way, and which we believe will help you get the most out of the tool:
1. The value of Analyst is not to be found in the number of people who use it or the number of times it gets used. Rather, value is to be found in what you use it for and how much ultimate value it brings to the College. For example, Greenwich Community College developed their Passport to Careers offer in sports, fitness, travel and tourism in response to the intelligence supplied by Analyst which showed a significant increase in jobs forecast for the sector. This is the sort of thing that does not necessarily take a lot of people using Analyst on a regular basis, but rather requires one or two people asking very specific questions and going to Analyst for the answers.
2. The key to getting value from Analyst, is therefore to ask very defined questions. So rather than asking vague questions, such as “How can we improve our curriculum”, it is much better to ask distinct questions that require specific solutions. So for example, “Are we meeting local demand in the construction sector?” “Are we training too many hairdressers for local needs?” “How does our course provision measure up to the LEP priority areas?” Or maybe you are looking to bid for extra funding to increase a certain part of your provision but you lack the solid evidence to show that this increase is needed. Asking specific questions such as these will help you know where to go when you log on to Analyst, so that you can more easily get the answers you are seeking.
3. In our experience, the colleges that report getting the most out of Analyst are those who have some kind of Strategic Champion to ask the kinds of questions mentioned above. The type of person doing this would clearly be someone senior in a college, but not necessarily the person responsible for overall curriculum planning. Rather, it could be someone who is simply able to take the overarching strategy of the college, and then use it to ask the kind of defined questions mentioned above.
4. Having a Strategic Champion is a great idea, but it is also a good idea to have a dedicated Analyst Champion as well – someone who really knows Analyst inside out and can use it to obtain specific answers to defined questions. The Analyst Champion does not necessarily have to be the same person as the Strategic Champion. In fact, we often find that some of the best users of our tools are not necessarily senior staff but simply those who are tech savvy, have a love for data and have the ability to use Analyst to research the answers to the specific questions asked by the Strategic Champion. It goes without saying that it is not necessary to employ someone to perform just this function, but rather to incorporate it into someone’s role and job description.
5. Our Customer Service Managers are on hand to help you get the most out of the tool. Don’t be afraid to call them for help, and don’t be shy of asking them to come in to show you how particular problems can be solved.
6. Attend user groups. We run various user groups throughout the country and these are great occasions to hear how other colleges are using our tools to solve particular problems, and to find out how they have gone about achieving their goals. The next one of these is at Preston’s College on October 15th, which you can sign up to here.
7. Finally, we would also recommend reading case studies on our blog to get ideas of how other colleges are using Analyst, and what they have achieved with it. For a selection of ideas, click on here, here and here.
We hope that these ideas prove useful and that they help you get more value from using Analyst.