Big Data + Small Changes = Better Results

How big data produces better results for auxiliary services

Big data, meaning all transaction information, is undoubtedly a driver of change in the auxiliary services department of higher education institutions. After all, you can’t make proactive decisions about your business unless you have a good understanding of the data behind it.

Oftentimes, finance department leaders are only provided with high level data such as monthly numbers; this provides good indicators of how the school’s vendors are performing, but it doesn’t give you the granularity you need to make proactive financial or operational decisions.

That said, looking at big data can yield highly positive results. And thankfully, the changes your auxiliary service department needs to make in order to implement this new process are small.

Data Talks Over Time

By collecting and analyzing historical data, you’re able to identify trends as well as areas for opportunity, which can help you make small changes that have a cumulative effect. For example, one of our clients used to spend 14 person hours a month on invoicing efforts. After analyzing their data and introducing some automated methods and processes, they were able to reduce those hours to 15 minutes.

Another example is by examining food costs at a granular level, you could possibly reduce food waste. And by looking at what products students and staff like most and least, you could decrease the cost per plate by a few cents. This might not seem like much, but if your institution has a large residential student population, it could easily lead to big savings for your auxiliary services.

Make Small Changes

Fortunately, you don’t have to make big adjustments in how you view your big data. For example, you can look at different concepts in food service operations to see which locations give you better value. In this regard, it’s important to understand what students and staff are purchasing at what times of the day and where. This way, you can provide the best possible service (improving student satisfaction) and make better, proactive decisions about your business.

Final Thoughts

Colleges and universities now are facing huge financial pressure and will soon see declining enrollment, so tuition revenues will not be as big. As a result, it’s important for schools to take steps to reduce costs and enhance auxiliary service revenue. Investing in a technology solution that can help with those optimization paths is a lucrative solution to this issue.