Page 1

The Myth of Competition How to build your Business DNA

The Devil is in the DATA

How well is your data managed?

Tech Tools - Evernote

“Remember Everything”

Staff Success

Staff priorities that can help your RTO grow

How to better manage Continuous Improvement Page 44

al r u g u Ina Issue!

May 2012

$14.95 inc. GST

RTO Success May 2012



Publishers Details

From The Editor

RTO Success Magazine Issue 1 May 2012

Welcome to Our Magazine! Dear Reader, "Without passion, you don't have energy; without energy, you have nothing. Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion." Donald Trump Welcome to the very first issue of the RTO Success Magazine! We are passionate about the RTO Industry and this magazine is born out of our desire to serve the VET Sector in Australia. We have been involved in this industry working with colleges of all sizes and persuasions (local, international & ELICOS) for over 15 years in the areas of compliance, technology and consulting with them to help them reach their goals and greater levels of success. It is our mission to provide informative articles, industry news, inspiring stories & ideas and links to resources, tools and information that will propel your RTO’s success. We know that this magazine is going to become something you ‘must read’ every month. In this issue, we talk about setting your staff up for success and how to best manage continuous improvement. We also look at building your business DNA. We would love your feedback, so if you have something to say, please email me at and I look forward to hearing from you. Until next time, have a wonderful month.

Published by: RTO Success Group Pty Ltd PO Box 8773, GCMC, Bundall QLD 9726 Suite 2, 160 Cotlew Street, Ashmore QLD 4214 Phone: 1300 031 312 ACN: 142 708 361 Publisher: Sandeep Sethi Editor: Melissa Hamilton-Matthews Copy Editor: Kendall James Advertising Manager: Rashmi Mehra Subscription: RTO Success Magazine is a monthly magazine Monthly - $14.95 Yearly - $179.40 Subscription Enquiries: Art Director: Vimaljeet Singh Copyright: No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the publisher’s written permission. The names, images and logos of any third parties and their information, products and services are proprietary marks and property of those third parties. RTO Success Magazine does not lay claim to any third party intellectual property and nothing contained in this magazine shall be construed as conferring (by implication or otherwise) as RTO Success Magazine having any licence or right under any trademark or patent. If you wish to seek request for permission to use the names, images or logos of any third party it should be in accordance with the individual copyright statement contained in that third party site. Contribution: the views expressed in the RTO Success Magazine by external contributors and advertisers are not necessarily those of RTO Success Group Pty Ltd. Printed in India

RTO Success May 2012





06 The Myth of Competition How to build your Business DNA Direct competition is a physical reality and yet it is a myth at the same time. How do you go about creating that unique Business DNA? 10 key questions and 4 must do strategies around building your DNA and competition proofing your business.

19 In Focus Carmel Thompson


This month, we bring you Carmel Thompson. Carmel was interviewed by Sandeep Sethi on various topics including her early life, her involvement and her insights about the industry and her nuggets of wisdom accumulated over a quarter of a century working with the VET sector.

REGULARS 10 Industry News 15 Tech Tools – Evernote 23 Book Summary – Customer Mania 27 Survey of the Month 36 Tech Tools – LastPass 40 It’s Not News – Smartphone 42 Inspire Me – B1G1 53 Time Out



Remember everything.


44 How To Better Manage

32 Staff Success

Continuous Improvement It is vitally important for any RTO that their staff achieve the goals that you set out for the business. Here are 4 tips to help you set your staff up to succeed.


Are you confused about Continuous Improvement? Do you struggle to manage, monitor and show at audit time how you have improved across your RTO? With some new ideas and new technologies managing Continuous Improvement will become a whole lot easier for your RTO. We look at Continuous Improvement and the questions you should be asking.

48 The Devil is in the Data How well is your data managaed? Every RTO, regardless of size or type, have a responsibility to manage the quality of their data to meet compliance requirements. On a day to day basis how much data do you collect relating to your students’ or their studies or your Employers, Agents, Schools and so on? All this data means something to your RTO and generally a large component of it affects your compliance requirements. RTO Success May 2012


How to build your Business DNA hly If you are just starting out in a hig competitive industry such as the ser ve education industry, you may ob ahead that some competitors are miles fact. of you... in a different league in Business is difficult even without competition isn't

that are

snapping at your heels... those daring

upstarts who would do anything to win.

it? There's the slow economy, government departments changing

If you are prepared to reflect and observe, you may

their minds and all those compliance and

find that the reality is something quite different in

staffing issues even before you have the time

fact. Direct competition is a physical reality and yet it

to worry about your competition.

is a myth at the same time. It becomes your reality if you see yourself as a me-too kind of an organisation.

No matter where you are in your business lifecycle,

It becomes a myth if you are dedicated to refining

the following statements may be true for you...

and growing your unique DNA and embedding that in everything you do.

If you are just starting out in a highly competitive industry such as the education industry, you may observe that some competitors are miles ahead of you... in a different league in fact. If you are already established, you may be finding that there are some new competitors


How do you go about creating that unique business DNA? Especially when it sounds like a buzz word that you are not quite clear on? Start by answering the following questions

1 Do you believe your organisation is unique? If not,

are you prepared to the work to make it something

college to be in the next year, two years and five

unique and extraordinary?


2 Are you prepared to look at your operations, your

8 You have created a culture of open and honest

staff and your student services and prepared to make

expression and staff are able to voice their concerns,

small but regular and incremental improvements in

issues facing the organisation and also their

everything that you do?

innovative ideas and solutions on a regular basis?

3 You and your staff are genuinely enthusiastic and

9 You regularly hold meetings covering 90 day plans

excited about being in the industry and serving your

and keep your staff accountable and focussed on


achieving small and large goals that line up with the

4 You are open to learning and can objectively

business vision?

see your weaknesses and that of your key

10 You have taken three to five key points of


difference and what you value as an organisation and

5 You have taken the time to find out exactly who

everyone is committed to upholding them as your organisation's identity at all times?

your ideal student / client is and have communicated that to your staff?

6 You are prepared to learn from what your best competitors do and are open to changing and adopting better practises?

7 You have a clear vision of where you want your

If you have answered yes to at least 7 out of the above 10, then congratulations, you are well on your way to being at the top of the pack and not having any direct competition. If your yes count was lower (even if it was a lot lower than the minimum 7), don’t despair.

RTO Success May 2012



TEAMS is the ultimate feature rich & easy to use software that will take your RTO management to the next level. Using TEAMS allows automation of your marketing and reduces admin costs. Get compliance ready and access comprehensive reports at your finger tips!

 AVETMISS Compliant  Email, SMS & CRM features  Timetable & Attendance  Competency Counts & Surveys  Complete Student Financials

Contact RTO Software on 1300 305 302 for an online demo or a detailed proposal. 8

links between the University of Canberra and the Canberra Institute of Technology. The proposed University Canberra Institute of Technology has been placed “on hold”, and possibly off the agenda, while the ACT Government negotiates future vocational and training reforms with the Commonwealth. The proposed UCIT, announced by the ACT Government last December, was an 11th-hour compromise to create a new institution to offer associate degrees and diplomas after the CIT resisted a formal merge with the UC.

As this is our first issue we wanted to catch up on the news for the year so far.

April New ASQA Commissioner appointed The Australian Government has appointed Michael Lavarch as Commissioner—Risk Analysis and Investigation of the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). Michael is perhaps best known for his time as Australia’s Attorney General and as a federal member of parliament between 1993 and 1996. However, he has had an even longer and most distinguished career in the legal profession outside of parliament—as an academic, in private practice and as the CEO of the Law Council of Australia. For the past eight years, Michael has been the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law and a Professor of Law at the Queensland University of Technology. This experience will be invaluable to the Authority when Michael joins Chief Commissioner Chris Robinson and Commissioner Dianne Orr at ASQA. Michael will take up his post as a Commissioner on 16 April 2012.

March March 29 - New tertiary institute shelved ACT Education Minister Chris Bourke announced on the 29/03/2012 that the Government would wait until the Council of Australian Governments meeting on April 13 to see what new Commonwealth funding would be made available to the ACT before it committed to any formal

The formal merger was the strong recommendation of Professor Denise Bradley - the architect of the federal government's 2008 higher education review - who was called in by the ACT government to examine the future of the two Canberra institutions last year. Dr Bourke said it would be foolish to commit further to the UCIT before the Commonwealth unveiled to the states and territories its plans for reforms to the vocational sector. Premiers and chief ministers will meet next month to discuss $9 billion in federal funding which is on offer in exchange for overhauling state and territory vocational training practices. Source: The Age (

March 9 - Amendments to the ESOS Act passed in Parliament Amendments to the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 were passed by the Parliament on 1 March 2012 and will commence from 1 July 2012. The amendments are part of the Government’s second phase response to the Baird Review of ESOS. The amendments include a new Tuition Protection Service (TPS) to establish a universal, single-layer tuition protection scheme for overseas students. There is also a suite of complementary initiatives introduced to support the TPS. Source: DEEWR (

RTO Success May 2012


TechTools Technology can be a brilliant game changer for your organisation. There are a whole host of services available that can help you collaborate better, save time, be on top of your business and even have fun in the process! Each month, in the Tech Tools section you will find a featured suite of software that you can use within your organisation. Some of these you may have heard of, some others may be new to you, either way; each one if used will bring increasing benefits to you and your organisation. Best of all, most of them are free and available online as part of the Web 2.0 revolution.

Featured this month -

10 10

Featured in this month’s Tech Tools section is a suite of software called Evernote. Evernote’s slogan is quite apt for what it does. Using this app you can store and remember pretty much everything! We are all bombarded with tons of information from all different sources every day. We may come across websites, word documents or written notes, reports published on sites, images, sound files etc. Evernote helps to collect all that in one central place, store tags with it all to make it easily searchable.

Scan Your Notes – Evernote has OCR, so even many of your handwritten notes will be instantly searchable. Your Paperless Library – Evernote is a great way to file all those PDF scans. In fact, you can even set up your scanner to file right to Evernote. Save Important Receipts and Registrations – Many people don’t know what to do with all those old receipts. Put them right into Evernote. This is especially true of online receipts. You can email them from your inbox right into Evernote. Notebooks, Lists and Collections – Evernote is a great place to store your lists and collections. Evernote allows you to create shared notebooks.

A "note" can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten "ink" note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can be sorted into folders, then tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched and exported as part of a notebook.

Evernote is platform independent so it works easily on PCs, Macs, tablets, iPhone and Android phones, pretty much any device can have Evernote installed on it. As a result it is very easy to have a centralised place where you can store all your notes, no matter what device you used to collect it in the first place.

Benefits of Evernote

Simply visit and sign up with your email account. Once your account is activated you can also install web clippers for your browsers that allow you to easily save and clip web pages as a note.

Access from Everywhere – One of the best aspects of Evernote is that it is accessible from anywhere your desktop, the Web, from your smart phone or your iPad.

RTO Success May 2012


Each month, we would like to bring you an article on a remarkable person within the RTO Industry. We would like to show you more than just their achievements and their resume but to reveal a bit more about their life and their human side as well. Be it someone who is involved with various government or industry bodies, an RTO Owner, a Consultant or Trainer, anyone who has been involved with the industry and in our eyes is a superstar, we will invite to participate and be our In Focus Person of the month.

This month, we bring you Carmel Thompson. Carmel was interviewed by Sandeep Sethi on various topics including her early life, her involvement and her insights about the industry and her nuggets of wisdom accumulated over a quarter of a century working with the VET sector.

If you know someone who deserves being featured here, please email us on and let us know.

Carmel has been involved with the VET industry for 25+ years. It all started in the early days in 1986 when she was teaching accounting and book keeping at Randwick TAFE. She has done a multitude of roles within the industry from being a Principal at Achievers Business College in Brisbane in 1990, to running her own successful RTO the Southern Cross International Learning Institute which she ran from 1994 to its eventual sale in 2011. All this while, Carmel has been a passionate supporter for change and growth in the RTO Industry. She has run her own consultancy practice for the past 18 years where she has assisted numerous RTOs in gaining their RTO status and advised them on a range of issues from Compliance to Business Management and Advice. Not someone who sits at the sidelines, she has been active on numerous boards and committees that have helped shape the industry as well. Starting from being a founding member of ACPET (she was Deputy Chair and QLD State Director from 1998 to 2000), to being currently actively involved as


Vice President (East Asia and The Pacific) of International Vocational Education and Training Association’s (IVETA) which is a USA based international body for VET Providers.

The young dreamer with the runways of Paris and London in her sights Carmel left school at an early age of 14 as she had dreams of going to Paris and London being a fashion designer. Her parents told her that she had to wait and would have to be at least 18 before being allowed to leave Australia. Always active and a busy bee, she studied at Sydney Tech for four years. She was a brilliant student and won a state scholarship. She learnt Latin and French while also excelling in subjects such as Chemistry! Being persistent she requested her parents to let her go overseas to pursue her dream, they however had a further trick up their sleeve. They insisted that she go in for a secretarial course just in case the fashion designer dream didn’t materialise, “at least you will

have a real skill behind you in case you fall flat on your face” they said. She excelled at the secretarial

Introducing Carmel Thompson...

course and was a full time secretary and held two part time jobs before finally she was able to follow her dream of going to Paris. She absolutely loved London and Paris. She was able to find work in the fashion industry in London and the secretarial skills came in handy for a part time job in the evenings. She travelled extensively around Europe and Canada for a year and then came back to London at the age of 21. She got married (her husband was in the military) and they both went to Papua New Guinea. She continued her studies and finished her grade 12 by correspondence while she worked for the base commander as his secretary. Student one year, Teacher the next!! She returned to Australia, got a job at Randwick TAFE running their art shop as that fitted her routine with her children and their school holidays. She did a Certificate of Accounting (today’s equivalent of a diploma). She was awarded “The Student of the Year” and next year she was asked to teach the course! She was honest with her students

“I’m new, this is my first time at teaching so be kind to me.” The students responded to her honesty

and even commented on how much she had improved through the year. Carmel strongly believes that, “I think it’s better to

be honest rather trying to pretend what you are not.” Carmel also is a strong believer in the power of being organised and planning your activities. “You can do things off the cuff but it takes a lot of years and a lot of professional development to be able to do that” she says.

Working and running a family would be enough for most people but not for energetic Carmel. She continued her studies and did her Bachelor’s of Accounting through Riverina as an external student. She further completed her Masters of Education and did a research masters on the topic of the AQTF Compliance. This helped her gain a lot of in depth knowledge, not only on the Australian model but also on a lot of the international models. RTO Success May 2012


Customer service is the single most pressing problem for business managers and people in any service or sales operation. Ken Blanchard is a recognised authority in the areas of Management, Business Management and Human Resource Development. He has written numerous books on Management and Customer Service including The One Minute Manager, Whale Done! And Raving Fans.


In Customer Mania!, Ken Blanchard, one of America’s biggest bestselling authors and inspiring business leaders, writes of the key to customer service – Along with coauthors Jim Ballard and Fred Finch, Blanchard explains why the customer is the right starting place from which to build a successful business.

“Leadership that emphasizes judgement, criticism, and evaluation is a relic of the past. Great leadership today is about treating people the right way by providing the support and encouragement they need to be their

best. When you treat your people like problems and to innovate new solutions, your profits become both strong and sustainable. This in turn allows you winners, they treat your customers as to expand faster by being able to source investment from quality investors at your terms. if they’re the most important people in Treat customers the right way: the world. That’s what creates raving fans and gets your cash register going Some organisations make the fatal mistake of treating their customers as an unwanted distraction. Satisfied customers ca-ching.” – Ken Blanchard, Jim Ballard are only a start. The goal is to turn them into dedicated, loyal, raving fans. To do that, you have to determine the and Fred Finch kind of experience you want your customers to have as they Packed with practical insights, Customer Mania emphasizes four critical steps: 

Set your sights on the right target.

Treat customers the right way.

Treat employees the right way.

Build the right kind of leadership.

interact with every part of the company. Never forget the customer writes your paycheck and is the reason for your existence. You can achieve the goal of having an army of raving fans with the following three step process:

Creating Raving Fans

How can you take your Business to “impeccable heights” Great organisations are not one dimensional. Instead, everyone’s energy gets focused on a “Triple Bottom Line”. To achieve the Triple Bottom Line, everyone in your enterprise will need a clear picture of the direction they should be heading.

Set your sights on the right target: The bottom line grows from taking care of customers and creating a motivating environment for your people. You must be: 1. The provider of choice – because you have to create raving fans for what you offer. You can do that by taking care of customers better than your competitors and by exceeding the customer’s expectations. 2. The employer of choice – because your people are the ones that will help you have raving fans. Being an employer of choice enables you to attract and retain the best people in the industry. These key people can then provide top service to customers. 3. The investment of choice – By empowering your employees and keeping them well informed and giving them the freedom to show initiative to solve business

1. Determine exactly what you want customers to feel and experience when they do business with you. Develop a vivid image of the kind of experience you hope customers will have. 2. Be genuinely interested in the ideas customers come up with. Encourage and promote criticism and feedback. Even if those ideas turn out to be of little value on further reflection there may be a spark of a new idea somewhere in there that can be picked up on and utilised. 3. Live your customer service vision by putting your customer contact people at the top of your organisation’s hierarchy, not at the bottom.

“Profit is the applause you get for taking care of your customers and creating a motivating environment for your people.” – Ken Blanchard, Jim Ballard and Fred Finch RTO Success May 2012


Top 4 staff priorities that can help your RTO grow It is vitally important for any RTO that their staff achieve the goals that you set out for the business. Here are 4 tips to help you set your staff up to succeed. Make staff part of your business vision It is increasingly important for staff to feel like they are contributing towards ‘something big’. Communicate your goals & visions to your staff by showing each staff member how they’re contributing to reaching these goals to keep them motivated and engaged. You can do this by: a) Setting goals & recognising results – if you help your staff to succeed in their job then your business will succeed. Goal setting should be one of the first steps to employee success and motivation. Set realistic,


achievable goals that you can break down from yearly to quarterly, half yearly and monthly as this makes it easier for them to see the ‘big picture’, but go after smaller goals that will get them to the end goal. It’s important to then recognise your staff’s success when their goals are achieved. Remember to show your staff that you value their achievements. b) Look to your employees for input and ideas – staff like to think they are being listened to and that their input counts. Great ideas come from many places & people not just from a single person. Ask your staff for their ideas & opinions but most importantly take

the time to listen. You could do this as a one on one, a team exercise of each department or by surveying your staff. c) Staff rewards strategies – look for non-financial rewards & benefits to recognise staff reaching their goals. Things such as: i) Movie, theme parks, theatre, concert, sport tickets ii) Dinner for 2 at a restaurant near where they live NOT where they work iii) Staff specific gift – what does the staff like to do? Read books, car crazy, sports crazy? iv) Gift vouchers

Embrace flexibility in the workplace To get the best from your staff become an outcome oriented workplace where employees are paid for results & high performance instead of time. There are many benefits for your employees but just as many for you that include: a) Keeping skilled & motivated employees – effective flexibility can reduce unwanted staff losses by up to 25%. A dramatic cost savings in terms of maintaining customer relationships, re-training, and administration costs in relation to advertising & further recruitment. b) Motivating and energising staff - as employees are more focussed on the outcomes & business success

RTO Success May 2012


TechTools Featured this month -

LastPass Password Manager is a freemium password management program developed by LastPass. It is available as a plug-in for Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and Safari. There is also a LastPass Password Manager bookmarklet for other browsers. LastPass is easy, secure password and data management. Not only is the LastPass Password Manager free, it saves your time while keeping you safe. While our minds struggle to keep track of an increasingly complex variety of online accounts, LastPass allows you to effortlessly save, organise, and access your login data.


Features • • • • • • • • • •

One master password Cross-browser synchronisation Secure password generation Password encryption Form filler Importing and exporting passwords Portable access Multifactor authentication Fingerprint verification Cross-platform availability (and mobile versions for premium)

Passwords in LastPass Password Manager are protected by a master password and are encrypted locally and are synchronised to any other browser. LastPass Password Manager also has a form filler that automates password entering and form filling. It also supports password generation, site sharing and site logging. LastPass Password Manager offers a premium subscription that

includes iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone, Windows Mobile, WebOS and Symbian applications, enhanced support, multi-factor authentication and no advertisements. On December 2, 2010, it was announced that LastPass acquired the bookmark synchroniser Xmarks. LastPass password management technology was integrated into the “Identity and Privacy” feature of Internet security company, Webroot’s newest security suite. Full terms of the licensing deal were not disclosed.

Mobile access available here

Use of LastPass LastPass can be used to synchronise password database between the different devices I use - home PC, Mac Mini, Mac Book, iPad, etc. All the data can be stored locally, RTO Success May 2012



It's Not

NEWS Each month we will present for your entertainment some things we truly find funny, inspirational (or both) from the world wide web. This month we feature a snippet from This is from a bunch of guys that have great insights into our day to day world. The feature this month is, Why I love and Hate my SmartPhone. Enjoy

RTO Success May 2012


Inspire ME Inspiration is something that we need in both our professional and personal lives. When people are inspired it triggers emotions and feelings that enable us to do the things we do with purpose, energy and enjoyment. When you are inspired you have motivation, you have direction and your actions have purpose and you will persevere until you succeed. Whether it is your personal or professional life the degree of success you achieve is influenced by your ability to find daily inspiration in what you do and why you do it. With this in mind we want to be able to inspire you on a regular basis with stories of organisations, communities and individuals and the inspirational work they are doing with the hope that they will help to inspire you to a new level.

Featured this month – ‘Businesses that Give’

Businesses around the world are changing lives every day and so can yours.

Imagine having the power to change lives every day! In 2007 a small, dedicated team set out to do something that had never been done before. It started with a very simple idea: “What if every time we bought something, it made a difference helping


someone else in our world?” It was to provide the systems, structure and inspiration to turn our world into a world full of giving and to create a much happier world as a direct result.

Who is this organisation? B1G1, or Buy1GIVE1, is a global business giving initiative launched in 2007 and headquartered in Singapore.

B1G1 is a social enterprise, comprised of a for-profit company, BUY1GIVE1 PTE LTD, and a registered Society called B1G1 Giving. Their for-profit company provides support to giving businesses, continuously builds systems to maximise giving effectiveness, and actively promotes this new way of giving. B1G1 Giving is a non-profit Society, registered in Singapore. The Board of B1G1 Giving monitors and maintains the integrity and transparency of all contributions made through B1G1’s Giving Engine making sure that 100% of the giving goes to the designated Worthy Cause project chosen by you — the giving company or individual.

What do they do? Buy1GIVE1 connects small business with worthy causes making it easy for its members to give in a tangible way — in a way where ALL the proceeds go to the intended recipients instead of getting eaten up in administration charges. One of the really cool things that B1G1 does is it enables business owners to tailor the nature of their giving to their industry. For instance, a restaurant may donate a meal to a starving person in India whenever anyone dines in their restaurant. And the benefits of doing that have a ripple effect. Not only is that restaurant making a difference, but their customers also feel that eating at the restaurant means they’re helping make a difference to someone in need. And – of course, the recipient benefits greatly too.

Sir Winston Churchill once said

“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give." To find out more about this wonderful organisation go to The Inspire Me section of the magazine is for both us and our readers to inspire each other. We will continue to tell you about inspiring organisations, communities and individuals and we would love for our readers to contribute as well. Do you have a story of inspiration? Email us at editor@rtosuccess.

B1G1 Achievements Total Giving Activities: 9,711,277 Some of the impact created through the SME Business members’ contributions since late 2007 include: Food: • 142,500 people received a nourishing meal • 725,373 people received agriculture support for a day Education: • 535,149 children received education support for a day • 688 school teachers received a full days wage • 16,658 children received an improved learning environment for a year • 11,127 children received a life education program for a day • 16,853 children received learning tools • 192,579 people received occupational training for a day • 8,019 social entrepreneurs received support for a day • 746 teenagers received a life coaching session • 11,800 children received computer education for a day • 11,494 disadvantaged people received special education for a day

Health: • 2,638 people received a therapy session • 225,342 people received medical support for a day • 7,167,326 people received access to clean water for a day • 60,512 people received access to the toilet for a day • 68,844 people were helped improve personal hygiene for a day • 26,370 people in need received vitamin supplements for a day

Shelter: • 217,614 people in need received accommodation for a day

Comfort: • 2,462 people received transportation for a day • 4,097 people received a special gift • 28,385 people received internet/ phone connection for a day • 813 elderly people received life support for a day • 1,554 people received access to lighting for a day

Environment: • 5,033 trees got planted • 18,541 trees got adopted for a year • 185,161 square meters of rainforest was protected Sustainability: • 730 dollars given to people as small, low interest loans • 3,084 families received a domestic animal that gives them income RTO Success May 2012


How To Better Manage Continuous Improvement


Are you confused about Continuous Improvement? Do you struggle to manage, monitor and show at audit time how you have improved across your RTO? With some new ideas and new technologies managing Continuous Improvement will become a whole lot easier for your RTO. Let’s first look at Continuous Improvement and the questions you should be asking.

How do you know what areas to improve on? The best way to do this is by asking questions using feedback forms, surveys, meetings etc and also through constant monitoring of your policies and procedures. Questions you need to consider are: ? Do you have feedback forms for how your training and assessment is conducted?

? Do you get feedback through onsite visits, phone conversations, surveys, emails etc from your clients (employers & students), agents, schools and other suppliers? ? For apprentices & trainees do you speak to their employers about the learning & assessment that you are delivering and the outcomes it is providing them? ? If you belong to any business or RTO related networks, do you take note of what others are discussing and what they do in relation to continuous improvement? ? Do you get feedback from your staff about where and how they see improvements can be made? ? Do you ever see ways to improve things?

? Do you have a process in place for regular internal audits to monitor and identify weaknesses or areas for improvement or where a gap in processes is found what do you do?

Have you said yes to any of the above? If you have then the next question you need to ask is: With the feedback you get what do you do with it? ? Do you have nominated staff or do you review feedback and categorise it against areas of compliance and set recommendations for changes & improvements? ? Do these findings get reviewed in management meetings and are recommendations actioned and assigned to staff for completion? ? Do you have a process in place to monitor these actions and follow up that they are completed, implemented, and staff & others are notified of any changes to what they do and how they do it? ? Where do you store this feedback and can you asily show what you have done with it and what actions you have taken etc?

RTO Success May 2012


The Devil is in the


How well is your data managed? Every RTO, regardless of size or type, has a responsibility to manage the quality of its data to meet compliance requirements. On a day to day basis how much data do you collect relating to your students’ or their studies or your Employers, Agents, Schools and so on? All this data means something to your RTO and generally a large component of it affects your compliance requirements. Poor data quality costs RTOs large amounts of time, resources and money every year. It is a significant problem not only for compliance management but it can also lead to inferior customer service, reduced employee productivity, lost sales opportunities etc. Many RTOs are struggling in managing

compliance requirements do you manage and of them what ones require you to store and manage very specific data? The main ones that are data specific include:

the quality of their data and there are just as many that have no idea how important the quality of their data is to their compliance requirements.

if not 2 of them, Quality Indicator Competency Completion Counts & AVETMISS data submissions, will be important to your RTO. If you also are a CRICOS registered RTO then 1 extra of these would be added to your list.If you take a look back over the history of the Industry and compliance requirements it’s probably in the last 4+ years that compliance has become more regulated and monitored and hence a problem for RTOs.

Data quality management is not rocket science or something to keep at arm’s length or even avoid, it’s something you need to consider seriously and take action to put a plan in place to manage your data. Firstly you need to take a step back and dentify what

Now not all of the above may affect your RTO but at least 1

If you are an RTO that has been managing Apprentices & Trainees or other funded contracts for a few years you may

National Code 2007 Attendance Monitoring

AVETMISS Data submissions - Fee for Service RTO's included


Quality Indicators Competency Completion Counts


DEST/DIAC Course Progress

say “what’s all the fuss, it’s simple or pretty easy” but is it really? Do you every month, without fail; receive a successful submission on the first attempt? If you answer yes then CONGRATULATIONS you are one of the minority of RTOs that are successfully managing your data, typically speaking most RTOs, even funded ones, have to do more than one submission per month to get a successful submission through. Now add all the other compliance requirements listed above that you are responsible for and this will build up to a lot of data that is not being managed properly.

Understanding what problem data is.

Now reverse the above example and have 657 Elizabeth Street but no suburb, state or post code and again it is incorrect. Simple little data mistakes like this can cause large amounts of errors and stress when your AVETMISS data is rejected. The next BIG data problem relates to DATES and this relates to all compliance requirements above if you think of it this way: AVETMISS Data Submissions: Most states, other than NSW, generally only want to see ‘current activity’ in the NAT files. How do you or your student management system know what ‘current activity’ activity is? It is basically when a student is meant to start and complete a unit of competency and/ or module that determines if it should be included in the NAT00120 or not so very date specific.

Let’s look at some simple examples of problem data. AVETMISS data submissions One of the most common errors that RTOs receive relates to a student’s address. In many databases a user can enter a suburb themselves and save it. More than likely they can also search and find the suburb but it is much easier in the mind of a user, especially someone who is good at data entry, to just type the information in and save it not stopping to think how that impacts the database. The problem is validation of the student’s address, especially the Suburb; State & Post Code is done by mapping it to the Australia Post website data. The first entry below would be rejected if it was submitted.

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melbourne, victoria 3000 MELBOURNE VIC 3000

Many times common suburbs like Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and so on, have all been entered into databases as melb, syd, bris etc due to lack of care by the person entering it. Another example for addresses is where the suburb, state & post code are entered but no street address is entered or vice versa. (Street Address Line 1) – left empty by staff member.

MELBOURNE VIC 3000 657 Elizabeth Street


In the first example above the format of the Suburb, State & Post Code is correct because there is no street address line 1 data it would be rejected.

Quality Indicators – Competency Completion Counts: especially think about the module activity file for start & completed counts. A student that is studying over more than one calendar year will NOT start or finish studying their competencies and/or modules in the one year and counting them in this way could have a dramatic completion count from one year to the next which can affect your Risk Rating. DEST/DIAC Course Progress: this is CRICOS specific compliance but is very dependent on dates. RTOs must monitor a student’s performance/progress within each study period, how do you do this if you do not know when a student is meant to start and finish studying each of their competencies and modules? You can’t just count every competency/module a student must study over the entire duration of their enrolment where it is more than 26 weeks. The logic is that student’s do not start studying every competency/module at the commencement of their studies and finish them all at the end of their studies, they have different start and end dates typically based on your term/semester dates. Typically for a CRICOS RTOs they never worried about recording a result date against the student’s competencies/ modules as there was never a need so with the introduction of the above 3 compliance requirements for them meant many data nightmares and a lot of confusion and in some cases panic purely due to the amount of data they had. National Code 2007 – Attendance Monitoring: this is another CRICOS specific compliance requirement for RTOs but it also can impact ELICOS colleges if they have enrolments that are greater than 26 weeks as you must then separate it into different ‘study periods’ for monitoring.

RTO Success May 2012


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RTO Success May 2012



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