Schools Benefit as Ad Astra Expands Services
Higher education institutions document savings and efficiencies with data-driven professional services and analysis.
Overland Park, KS (May 16, 2012) Ad Astra Information Systems announces the expansion of the Professional Services division into four major areas of services, each offering a wide range of customized consultation and analytics solutions. The growth is in response to increasing demand from colleges and universities for tools and expertise that help them achieve systematic improvement and answer the call for greater cost savings and efficiencies on their campuses.
"Today's environment requires a new way of thinking. Higher education institutions are looking for solutions to shrinking budgets, growing enrollment demands and greater public scrutiny of their operations," said Tom Shaver, Ad Astra Founder and CEO. "Schools are coming to us with complex lists of needs and are asking for help. These consulting services are now better defined to help higher education institutions assess system capacity through skilled analysis."
The new categories in Professional Services are: Strategic Planning Services, Schedule Refinement Services, Product-Based Services and Technical and Data Services. Prior to this expansion, Ad Astra provided one primary strategic service called the Strategic Scheduling Check-Up, which helped schools evaluate their capacity issues and identify costs savings opportunities.
The Trend in Demand
Since January, Ad Astra has engaged with higher education customers for 43 sales of Professional Services. As a part of this demand, the company also is experiencing more higher education institutions seeking out Professional Services in a specific area of need before assimilating a new scheduling system.
For these schools, the specific services help them address problem areas and understand their capacity prior to launching into a major system change. Des Moines Community College (DMACC) and California State University at Long Beach (CSULB), for example, engaged Ad Astra to study their capacity issues and identify solutions. Together, Ad Astra and DMACC have pinpointed inefficient scheduling practices that led to capacity bottlenecks and identified gaps and inconsistencies among the campuses. At CSULB, classroom bottlenecks also were identified which helped them to accommodate greater enrollment growth.
MSU Serves More Students and Reduces Costs
Mississippi State University (MSU) is another example of a large institution that successfully utilized Ad Astra's Professional Services. In 2007, MSU was challenged to support annual enrollment growth of three to five percent through 2015, increasing enrollment from 17,000 to 22,000 without major facility construction. To reach this goal, Butch Stokes, University Registrar, knew they needed to assess how they were using their facilities and obtain buy-in from the top to make changes. After receiving findings and recommendations from Ad Astra, MSU was able to accommodate enrollment growth while absorbing budget cuts.
"MSU is now scheduling 4,200 more students and 50,000 more seats with 10 fewer classrooms," said Stokes. "An additional four classrooms will come off-line this year and we've reduced 103 faculty positions. The financial savings have been critical," he added.
MSU accomplished these results through metrics and goals developed by Ad Astra, including increasing enrollment ratios, improving seat-fill ratios, increasing room utilization and partnering with colleges and departments to tightly manage meeting patterns resulting in the lowest wasted space measured to date. For MSU, more opportunities lie ahead in the areas of student access to needed courses, which will improve graduation rates and has a potential savings of $102,800.
Professional Services Descriptions
"The expanded Professional Services division will help colleges and universities better assess their systems' capacity and inefficiencies. Our goal is to arm them with the tools and expertise to cut costs, conserve energy and manpower, improve student outcomes and, quite simply, connect all the dots," said Sarah Collins, Ad Astra Chief Business Development Officer, who led the expansion process.
Each Professional Service provides a comprehensive description, scope of services and set of deliverables. They are defined below:
Strategic Planning Services Ad Astra offers scheduling policy development, goal setting, process improvement and modeling for enrollment planning, construction planning, faculty and resource planning and academic program planning.
Schedule Refinement Services Often, the decentralized structure of academic units and the autonomy of scheduling from unit to unit serve as a cultural and political impediment to improving scheduling practices. Ad Astra consultants help schools break through these barriers by identifying high impact changes to create to an upcoming schedule, monitoring the progress of those changes and analyzing the financial and student success opportunities associated with each change. These services create momentum towards ongoing scheduling policy enforcement and refinement to ensure that progress in future academic terms.
Product-Based Services A variety of product-based services are available from implementation, continuing education and product training to high-impact services that leverage the products for optimal return on investment. Unique and custom product configuration services are available to support business needs and objectives, as well as using the products to create models and forecasts for future planning.
Technical and Data Services Ad Astra technical consultants work with clients to prepare data for implementations, create custom integration points for seamless interaction with other campus and even offer outsourcing of application hosting and application management services, reducing the technical footprint on a campus.
"In the past, higher education enjoyed complete autonomy and academic freedom," said Shaver. "Today, however, institutions must learn to operate with more transparency and efficiency. By being proactive, institutions can determine how to respond to the changing economic demands and implement systems that work for their unique needs."
About Ad Astra Information Systems
Based in Overland Park, KS, Ad Astra Information Systems has a North American presence with customers in the United States and Canada. More than 550 college and university campuses have licensed Ad Astra software products and services since 1996 to help them with their facilities scheduling, event management, resource management and more. The results of using the Ad Astra advanced technology include significant cost savings; better management of facilities, meeting space and classrooms; and greater student satisfaction and graduation rates. With scheduling and planning among the most strategically important activities in which an institution can engage, The Astra Schedule Suite has become the standard for higher education scheduling software. Ad Astra invests significant resources into research and development and was the first company of its kind to develop a web-based platform for higher education scheduling software. In 2010, the United States Patent Office issued Ad Astra a patent for its innovative method of determining student demand for academic course. The company is committed to improved student success and resource management efficiency in higher education. For more information, visit www.aais.com.