How Can We Do More With Less?

Lets face it. The current economic climate is challenging on multiple levels. Educational budgets are tighter than ever, oftentimes frozen or no longer even existent within K-12. But with every challenge lies an opportunity. Here are areas for consideration in creating "more with less."

FOCUS -- List and prioritize furnishing needs both for today and into the future. What is the five-year plan? Ten-year plan? How do the plans for furnishings tie to the overall goals and vision for the institution? Rationalize and validate the plan and related prioritization with your stakeholders (stakeholders should include, but not be limited to your faculty, administration, students, parent liaisons and district partners). Input that drives dialogue will allow you more effective, validated decisions for both the short- and long-term.

CALCULATE THE ROI -- Calculate the return on investment (ROI) for those purchases selected (your areas of focus from step 1). Consider both the tangible and intangible value that purchase will drive. Be creative and forward thinking. Include items such as inventory management (flexibility in use), SKU reduction (district standardization), ease of use and repair (JIT maintenance or adjustment), student learning (validation of the institutions' success measures). Although the short-term needs may feel urgent, you're best served to keep focus on the long-term goals and needs of the learning spaces.

CIRCLE BACK -- Ensure the original plan is still warranted, validated by the ROI given the institution's goals and vision. If everything checks out, deploy.

Make no mistake. The goal of achieving more with less is certainly challenging. Especially if less equates to a null budget. But don't throw in the towel. There are too many precious students out there who need improved and optimized learning spaces. Even small, focused gains are better than no change and stagnation.

After all, these are future leaders!

Amy Kiefer is vice president of the Education Market division of KI.