Your Biometric ID Systems :
TL;DR One issue that sometimes comes up in discussions about investing in new technology for your school or school district is the return on investment or ROI. ROI is much more than a traditional financial return on your investment. Not only should ROI focus on hard value, but it should also take into account gains in efficiencies and effectiveness of your operations, increases in the quality of your level of service, and ripple effects that contribute to your entire organization.
How Do You Calculate the Value in Investing in New Technology?
Traditionally, monetary value or hard value is the measurement of ROI. But in a school setting, there are soft value components that should be considered as well. Here are some other areas that ROI can be quantified and qualified:
- Time Savings
- Better Data for Reporting and Decision-making
- Migrating from a Reactive to a Proactive Culture
- Improved Service
- Timely Regulatory Compliance
In building a model to calculate ROI, it’s helpful to simplify and measure variables. There are two basic components here: 1) financial capital and 2) human capital.
Financial capital is about the monetary costs in purchasing and maintaining products and services. Human capital is about employees and the total (and finite) time they must spend both individually and collectively.
It’s also important to point out that this is not an exact science. Sometimes estimates need to be developed or assumed based on experience, gut feel or empirical evidence. And sometimes there isn’t a hard cost or benefit that can be quantified. Consider including these items in your ROI discussion.
The goal is to take into account and quantify – as much as possible – the financial implications of implementing your biometric ID system. Do the aggregate benefits outweigh the costs?
These are easy to understand, easy to qualify and often easy to quantify. Time is money. Hard value and many soft value components of ROI can ultimately by broken down to some form of time savings. Then, time can be converted to a monetary value to help gauge your ROI.
For example, a Food Service Director spends two hours per week making calls to parents about problematic student accounts at $35 per hour for 36 weeks which totals $2,520 per school year.
Another example is an attendance secretary who no longer needs help processing tardy students for three hours each morning. This translates to $15 per hour for 375 hours which totals $8,100 in savings per school year.
Or how about the total cost per year of managing your ID card program? Here’s a scenario of a school with 1,000 students.
This school requires the initial setup and printing of the cards before school starts which is about 40 hours, PLUS five hours per week for 35 weeks to make replacement cards which totals 215 hours per year times $15 per hour is $3,225, PLUS the cost of the 1,000 initial cards, PLUS 1,000 replacement cards at $1.00 per card which totals $5,225 per year. And we didn’t even talk about printer costs. Whew!
What else could you be doing with that time and that money?
Not only does better and readily available data equate to a time ROI, but it can also equate to other types of benefits and efficiencies. This all plays into ROI and applies to both the investment in the management solution, as well as the decisions you make.
For example, you can put a time and cost component on improving the efficiency of your tardy process. However, what about the benefits of delivering actionable student data for early intervention, or teaching a life skill by incorporating student accountability to your tardy process, or having 100% accurate data for truancy and other legal issues, or simply reducing the frustration level of your already stressed-out staff?
These are qualitative examples that need to be considered. Though difficult to quantify, consider listing them and including them in your ROI discussion.
Migrating from a Reactive to a Proactive Culture
We all know that that a reactive management style takes more time, costs more money, and sidetracks you from becoming a better, more thoughtful innovative leader. It has been well documented that it is cheaper to maintain an asset or deal with a situation before you have problems than to react after a problem arises.
Reactive management sticks with tried-and-true tactics and strategies until they reach the point where change is necessary. Then, they devise solutions that address the new challenge without changing any other aspect of how their organization is managed.
Proactive management allows a reduction of the number of reactive incidents dealt with annually, thereby reducing the cost of operations. These leaders are constantly predicting trends and looking at their own managerial decisions with a critical eye searching for more efficient and innovative solutions.
For example, the most difficult challenge of moving from a reactive culture to a proactive culture is the concept of change. Yes, change is uncomfortable and more so with certain people.
“But I’ve always done it like this” or “But I know all of the students by name” or “But I don’t like this technology” or “Fill in the blanks” are familiar excuses when something new is being discussed or introduced.
Since the goal of your school or district is to incorporate a more proactive management strategy, being aware that the short-term uncomfortable feeling some people get when change is introduced can eventually lead to an efficient, successfully run organization that is all about adapting to change.
Whether it’s a challenge from an up and coming regulation, a new innovation that revolutionizes the work process, or even an economic downturn, there are virtually endless scenarios that must be constantly met with ingenuity and decisive action. From an ROI perspective, these efficiencies have a ripple effect that contribute to the entire organization.
Increased Levels of Service
This is driven by the human capital aspects of your operation and can be a little more challenging to quantify. An overall increased level of service can have a significant ROI. After all, isn’t service one of your organization’s primary goals?
For example, increasing the speed of your lunch lines and making it easier for students to eat breakfast has an immediate impact on your level of service, the district’s initiative of increasing breakfast and lunch participation and your bottom line.
Here’s a scenario in a school of 1,000 students. Just a 5% increase in breakfast participation, or 50 students eating a free reimbursable breakfast at $2.11 per day for 180 days over 36 weeks, is $18,990 for the year.
Add in the same increase for lunch at the reimbursement rate of $3.93 and you have an increase of $35,370 . The total increase for both breakfast and lunch is $54,360 for the year - on top of reaching district goals and taking your leadership impact to a new level.
Timely Regulatory Compliance
In the K12 environment, regulatory compliance is must-have. Being in compliance with a federal or state regulation or mandate can help you avoid a myriad of problems for the district and for yourself.
For example, accurate records is your insurance policy against the risk of a problematic audit, getting fined, avoiding a lawsuit, decreasing the risk of a data breach, etc. And then there is the cost to your reputation.
As you can see, ROI is much more than a traditional financial return on your investment. It encompasses gains in efficiencies and effectiveness of your operations. It increases the quality of your level of service. And it has ripple effects that contribute to the entire organization. These are all valuable and worthwhile Returns on Investment!