Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

The above alliterative heading is almost true to its original, but I've toned it down to accord with what is appropriate on this blog.

Last post I asked if you were reactive or proactive and promised to discuss a management and planning tool that helped me run a business and computing department at a large Technical and Further Education College in Queensland, Australia.

As head of department, I had seven full-time and 23 part-time teachers. I can't remember how many students, possibly two or three hundred. Students attended day classes Monday to Friday and evening classes Monday to Thursday and fitted into about 10 major courses eg, Associate Diploma of Accounting, Certificate in Business Administration, Certificate in Management, Associate Diploma of Computing etc.

I was wholly responsible for planning, organising, leading and controlling my department with very limited clerical support. The tasks included:
  1. Preparing advertising media, informational materials and accepting subsequent applications for enrolment
  2. Interviewing some students pre-enrolment
  3. Planning what subjects would be offered in what courses each semester
  4. Allocating teachers to subjects
  5. Hiring part-time teachers and approving and overseeing their salary payments and performance
  6. Booking suitable classrooms
  7. Allocating students to classrooms and thus teachers
  8. Quality control of instructional media and examination papers
  9. Planning subjects for the semester
  10. Organising examination and assessment schedules
  11. Reporting monthly to the department regarding statistics
  12. Many more associated tasks like dealing with disciplinary matters, answering questions from students, parents and teachers
I used a number of Gantt Charts to plan and execute the whole department activities. I had Gantt Charts for:
  1. Each course that showed the subjects, examination dates, teachers' names
  2. Classrooms booked for each subject
  3. Each teacher's workload
Everywhere I went, I carried a rolled up group of Gantt Charts. If someone stopped me in a hallway and asked where Mary Bloggs was teaching, I could look on my charts and see whether she was teaching and if so, where, with what group of students, in what room and during what period.

Every morning I'd look at the Gantt Charts so that I'd know what subjects were being taught where, by whom and with what groups of students. Just over half way through a semester, I'd begin making the Gantt Charts for the next semester so that weeks before it started, I'd know exactly what was going to happen.

Remember, Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. My department ran like a Swiss watch, unlike a couple of others that lurched from crisis to crisis as the department heads fought fires that were preventable. Room clashes because they had neglected to book a room, teachers without a full teaching load because they had forgotten to program them for the full semester.

My whole working life was organised and run using Gantt Charts, one of the most useful tools I have used.

If you haven't a clue what a Gantt Chart is and haven't followed one of the links above, click here and read my previous post about Gantt Charts. You may find they are something that will make your working life much easier and more efficient.


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