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While schools use metrics to measure their operations progress, state leaders are also beginning to utilize business analytics of districts across their state to analyze and improve their schools.

While schools use metrics to measure their operations progress, state leaders are also beginning to utilize business analytics of districts across their state to analyze and improve their schools. Key performance indicators (KPIs) for education provide objective insights into operations.

When you hear about business intelligence (or BI), the first things that come to mind are probably how businesses are using data to make better decisions, or even for artificial intelligence – the last thing you may think of is how it applies to education, but the truth is, more and more education professionals are recognizing how they can harness the power of data for their own operations.

All organizations, and increasingly so, government organizations and educational institutions, can take advantage of business intelligence; it’s much simpler (and easy to do) than you may think. “Business intelligence” is simply an umbrella term that encompasses using data to make better decisions with analytics. In fact, if your organization or the schools in your state have a CMMS, they’re already collecting data, with information ranging from how many work orders a school may have per technician to the energy usage by building, and more.

Thanks to the accessibility of cloud software nowadays, educational organizations can empower their processes and decisions with analytics without hiring a full time data analyst. Many CMMS and asset management systems offer this technology as part of their solutions suite. If you’re looking to incorporate BI best practices as you evaluate the success and needs of the schools in your state, here are three key areas to keep in mind.

The Basics

When it comes to BI and education, there are two key areas to focus on: KPIs and benchmarking.

KPI stands for “key performance indicators.” We like to break it down as:

  • Key: Essential, important, crucial, fundamental, significant
  • Performance: Functioning, execution, operation, act, deed, feat, routine
  • Indicator: Gauge, value, pointer, marker, sign

Setting KPIs are a way for organizations to focus their attention and manpower towards specific areas that will make the most impact. The great thing about them is that while there are some guidelines on selection, you can tailor them to your needs. If, for example, you want to understand the amount of deferred maintenance for all the districts in your state or compare energy usage by school, you can use that number as a KPI.

When you have these KPIs to focus on, you can then identify areas for improvement – which brings us to benchmarking. A benchmark is defined as a “point of reference by which something can be measured.” Your organization can use them as quality checks or performance guidelines for the institutions you need to evaluate - essentially, a benchmark is a reference point for you to measure progress.

BI in Application

BI is particularly valuable to schools because of all the data that can drive better decision-making. With limited resources, and limited time, it’s more important than ever to make sure the schools across your state are focusing on the work that impacts productivity, efficiency and student outcomes the most. With the right KPIs and benchmarking, you can keep your educational organizations on track and identify areas for cost-savings opportunities.

Some key areas where you can utilize analytics in your role include evaluating:

  • How each school is performing operationally and if they are wisely using budget dollars
  • District to district comparisons to benchmark progress and greatest areas for improvement
  • Real-time data of districts’ performance in multiple operations areas, including maintenance, technology, and energy costs

Using Business Intelligence Wisely

All of this data provides objective information – meaning that they’re facts that are practically impossible to dispute. With it, you can see key insights into all district operations and projects and better allocate resources as a result. The goal of both KPIs and benchmarks are to drive conversations and make more informed decisions.

Business intelligence is about intelligently managing your responsibilities, being a leader, and operating analytically and astutely versus by assumption. BI is a dashboard, KPIs and trends are gauges, but you are at the wheel, so drive responsibly.

Read more about business intelligence for education:


To see more data about budget and staffing benchmarks for schools and districts across the country, read our whitepaper today.

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