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7 alarming ways paper is hurting your boarding processes

Vincent Paget

March 14, 2017

Paper is everywhere in boarding but is it really the best way to be managing your boarding processes in 2017?If you take a closer look, you’ll find that paper is static, ever-growing, storage heavy, difficult to update and ultimately holding you hostage from what you really care about - building relationships with your students and helping them flourish.Check out these 7 ways paper is holding you hostage:

1. Paper drains your time and energy

In a survey that we recently conducted, we discovered that boarding staff spend an average of 6 hours per week processing leave requests/exeats. Some even claimed that they spend up to 12 hours a week just to process leave requests.Most of these hours spent can be blamed on the physical and energy-intensive processes that are required to check, update, organise and file paper. When you consider all the different sets of hands and the double-data entry required to properly record your information, it’s easy to see how the time and energy used in paper-based processes stops you from getting back to what you’re passionate about, spending time with your students and helping them flourish.

2. Paper stalls communication

The key to efficient processes in boarding is quick and clear communication between your staff, students and parents. However, because paper can’t update automatically like technology can, staff, students and parents have to rely on you to notify them every time something changes.Simple tasks like processing leave requests can end up taking much longer to complete because of the back and forth communication and with everyone not on the same page, teamwork and relationships suffer. Parents are bothered by disruptive communications and boarding staff get confused with different sets of information and inaccurate records.

3. Paper is hard to regulate

Paper is also incredibly difficult to regulate because it can’t be tracked. Aside from standard leave information (destination, time etc) it’s also important to keep an audit log of important boarding activity like who made changes to the record, when did they make changes, who was responsible for signing them out etc.A poor audit log of your activity creates opportunities for things to happen without your knowledge. Paper records can be easily lost with no way of finding out who had it last, or students could cheat the leave system by approving their own requests with fake signatures because you don’t have a method for regulating the process. Either way, paper-based processes are very difficult to regulate and can harm the accuracy and legitimacy of your student records.

4. Paper is prone to human error

Paper relies on humans to correctly fill out and communicate information and the trouble is that as humans, we will make mistakes from time to time. We might forget to enter some information or we might accidentally record the wrong information. Either way, having to go back and fix errors adds more time to your already long paper-based processes.Furthermore, illegible handwriting, especially from students, can stall the process even further or lead to a misinterpretation of the information.

5. Paper is slow to access

How much time have you wasted racking your brain for information or hunting through filing cabinets just to find a particular student record? Not being able to quickly access important information while you’re on the move means that you have to wait till you get back to the office. It also means that you can’t act quickly in an emergency situation where time is of the essence.Furthermore, the physical nature of paper means that you have to physically store your records in a secure location. Someone will have to spend time to make sure it stays organised and if you don’t have your data backed up somewhere, there’s also the slight risk of damage or loss in a disaster such as a fire.

6. Paper isn't smart

Paper processes can’t be automated like technology can. This means that you have to manually organise every piece of paper you collect. Using paper-based processes also makes it impossible to analyse the data you collect and this means that you’re missing out on a big opportunity to optimise your boarding processes. If used correctly, you could utilise your boarding data to efficiently plan meals, organise transport, optimise leave types, staff duties and much more.

7. Paper costs money (And hurts the environment)

While the monetary cost of paper may seem small, the indirect costs of storage, copying, and and printing can quickly add up... Not to mention the cost of wages to pay staff to process all that paperwork - In fact, we worked out that boarding schools can spend up to $13,500 per annum for staff to process weekly leave alone.Plus, if your paper-based processes aren’t up to standard in a crisis situation, the costs associated with the consequences can be astronomical. Potential litigation costs as well as a public relations nightmare means keeping your student records in check is more important than ever.And let's not forget about the environmental damage of paper waste. After all, we all want a beautiful healthy world for the next generation of boarding students.

Does paperwork still deserve a spot in boarding management?

Paper has been the lifeblood of boarding management for so long and it’s easy to see how some people may be afraid to change. However, with the increasing workload and demands in boarding, the costs, risks and inefficiency of paper-based processes are simply not sustainable for boarding in the 21st Century.These 7 reasons are only some of the issues a modern boarding school faces when using paper-base management processes. However each boarding school operates in their own unique way, so it can be a good idea to take a closer look at your own processes and see for yourself, what paper is costing you.[marketo-fat form="1107"]

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Vincent Paget

Vincent Paget is an Operations Manager at Orah based in Auckland, New Zealand. He loves technology, organisation, nature and adventure sports, not necessarily in that order.

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