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The contemporary business environment has become very competitive, and businesses and organizations need to have proper strategies to ensure that they are not only able to attract customers but also retain them in a sustainable and good environment. This can be achieved through professional strategic planning that will ensure that each area of management that contributes to and coordinates the functioning of the organization is taken care of and addressed from time to time. Moreover, in a competitive business environment, organizations and commercial entities must adopt strategic measures in order to survive in the market. Muller-Camen, Croucher and Leigh (2008) note that this is inclusive of the core and non-core business practices (p. 14). Facilities management falls within non-core areas of an organization; yet, it has an essential role in supporting the core business areas of an organization. To this end, facilities management, in a commercial property development, must be strategically defined due to the strategic role it plays in the overall functioning of the organization. According to Muller-Camen, Croucher and Leigh (2008), proper managing of the facilities in an organization is a cohesive approach that encompasses “operating, maintaining, improving, and adapting the buildings and infrastructure” of commercial property with the aim of providing an enabling environment which supports the core business objectives (p. 14). The British Institute of Facilities Management defines facilities management as “the practice of coordinating the physical workplace with the people and work of a business entity”. The International Facility Management posits that facilities management is simply the management of a vital asset—“the business’ facilities”

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In order to achieve their objectives and missions, organizations should ensure that they have a clear path that will lead to this end. One of the tools used to give organizations a clear direction is a strategic plan. It is significant that a strategic plan is well defined in terms of objectives and mission that the organization wishes to accomplish. Kraines (2001) notes that planning is “a process of defining the values, purpose, vision, mission, goals, and objectives of an organization” (p. 17). “Through the planning process, a jurisdiction or agency identifies the outcomes it wants to achieve through its programs and the specific means by which it intends to achieve these outcomes” (Kraines 2001, p. 17). This is important especially where competition for clients is stiff and resources are limited.

This paper is a report recommendation on the strategic and organizational issues facing an educational institution. The report majorly focuses on the analysis of risks and planning issues, human resource management, estate management issues, and proper utilization of equipment and vehicles that belong to an educational institution.

Problem and Risk Planning

In a world where resources are limited and scarce, it is important that management of institutions such as educational colleges for international students have clear plans that guide and shape the decisions and actions that are undertaken in the running of the institutions. The future can be managed if the institution has a clear plan on how it wants to develop further. A strategic plan is a tool that is important in giving organizations the ability to take responsibility of their own future. The mission and vision statements of an organization can only remain statements if there are no plans on how to achieve those statements.

Grays College faces a number of challenges that need to be addressed as soon as possible to ensure that the number of students enrolled annually does not decrease but increase. Despite the challenges that are experienced by colleges that rely on international students, such as a strict regulation on visas by UKBA, it is possible to attract a greater number of students annually if the facilities and general staff at the college improve. The first step that management needs to identify is the causes of financial problems.

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This can be achieved by carrying out a thorough audit of books of finance and sealing any loopholes that lead to financial constraints. It is noted that students have been prompt in their payment of college fees and the college also has had several sponsorships which would boost its financial base (Rondeau, Brown & Lapides 2012, p. 20). However, this has not translated into improvement of services, and there is a discrepancy between the chief financial officer and the priorities that the college needs to have. The financial director, who has been recently employed at the college, should be briefed on the financial status of the college by all concerned parties, including the sponsors and banks, so that he has an idea where to start with the financial plans to prevent the college from sustaining losses. A good starting point is for the financial director to call a meeting with all stakeholders and deliberate on the best ways of increasing the financial base of the college. He may suggest selling some of the assets that belong to the college such as campuses, which are popular with students but which escalate the maintenance expenditures that the college incurs annually. It is also important for the financial director to compare the cost of running the three campuses with that of integrating them and ensuring that business is done from one central place while the rest are transformed into other income generating businesses (Rondeau, Brown & Lapides 2012, p. 22)

Most colleges operate under the constraints of resources, both financially and in terms of human resource. Grays College should clearly define decisions and actions that are needed to direct the aspirations and desires of the organization to what it intends to achieve in future and, more importantly, to ensure that the number of international students enrolled to the colleges does not decrease. Additionally, adhering to timeline will be very important because it will help the college to start reassessing some of its under-utilized assets and properties and will also ensure that the human resources are equipped with relevant skills to help in running the college. Evidently, Grays College has a number of resources, including land and assets such as vehicles and computers, which can be more appropriately utilized. There is a need to merge different campuses to ensure coordination of services. The management also needs to analyze the importance of centralized administration and ensure that the head office has sufficient spaces that will provide clients with good time whenever they come to the office to seek services from administrators (Jackson & Schuler 2003, p. 21)

In Grays College, it is also imperative that the management assures the students that the college will continue functioning even in better ways despite the current challenges faced by the staff. Such assurance will build confidence both in the students and the employees who will strive to make the college a better place to learn. The staff and the students will provide invaluable information to the management through public suggestion boxes located in strategic places in all campuses. This will provide students’ opinions on a number of issues such as serviced delivery and the general suggestions that the students might have on how to improve services offered to them. The management also can improve their service delivery by implementing a strategic plan that would meet the college’s objectives by spreading information about the results and quality of the services offered (Rondeau, Brown & Lapides 2012, p. 22). Thus, a strategic plan includes evaluation tools that highlight the important achievements that the college has attained at a given time and help in giving direction on where the college wants to be in future. This will build the confidence of the students and the staff. Improvement of service delivery is also an important aspect of management in organization. Agreeably, there is no organization which can achieve 100% efficiency; yet, there is a need to continuously improve on the programs and service effectiveness through management accountability and focus on the results. This important part of management in an organization is captured in a strategic plan (Broder & Tucker 2011, p. 30)

For international colleges, strategic planning is beneficial in a number of ways. First, it will help the college to focus on future through improvement of the facility performance. It will also enable the college management to provide not only efficient services but also services of high quality to students and staff. The financial director at the college should look for ways to optimize the use of available resources, which is an important aspect of success of the college and which must be included in the strategic plan. Moreover, it is important that Grays College meets the accreditation and regulatory requirements from the government and other regulatory bodies. In case the college has not gotten recent accreditation from regulatory bodies, it is important that this is given a first priority. Accreditation of the courses helps to build confidence and trust in the level of education offered at the institution. It is also important to ensure that the staff and the facilities at the college meet the minimum threshold for college accreditation in the country. This may require retraining of the staff and also employing of qualified staff to reduce the shortage currently experienced at the college (Conrow 2003, p. 11).

Human Resource Management

According to Newell and Scarbrough (2002, p. 34), human resource management (HRM) is one of the most important pillars in any company that expects to remain competitive in the contemporary world. As such, scholars have theorized different human resource management models with a few being practiced in managing human resource in organizations. However, having a workable human resource management model is proving to be advantageous to every company. Evidently, a number of factors including company culture and human resource management contribute to the success of a company.

To this end, proper human resource management in an organization provides the opportunity for any business organization to operate with the best personnel that are capable of delivering best services to customers. Human resource management encompasses several undertakings, including welfare of the staff, planning for work schedules, working equipments provision, “compensation, hiring, performance management, organization development, safety, wellness, benefits, employee motivation, communication, administration, and training”. Technology has come in to aid in managing human resource, and thus, organizations that have well-managed personnel should feel the effect of having efficient human resource. Benefits of having a well-managed human resource in an institution include the success of the institution in a competitive environment.

Grays College faces a number of challenges related to human resource base with several of the staff working on contractual terms. Exceptional college staff is the first step of building trust and attracting students to the college. As a way of attracting new trainees, it is advisable that the management invests heavily in its human resources. It must ensure that the personnel are motivated by the working environment through continuous and systematic improvement of facilities, such as bringing order in the parking places. The management is also expected to carry out regular training of the staff in a dedicated site to equip the employees with management skills to help in running the activities of the college efficiently. This can be implemented by developing short causes that are specifically devised to address the unique situation at the college. Similarly, the management can motivate and train the staff with holiday activities and team building courses to ensure that departments are working towards similar goals and objectives. It is noted that the college has a number of optional sites where training centres could be located. Hopefully, the centres will build enthusiasm in the staff and revive their spirit to work even harder and smarter so as to improve service delivery at the institution. The sites indentified for location of training centres include Brecon Beacons, Anglesey, Snowdonia, Cumbria, Bodmin, and the Isle of Wight. These are prestigious sites which have the potential to improve the performance of the staff by motivating them to dedicate their efforts to the improvement of the working conditions and services at the college.

It is also important that drivers, who are subordinate staff, are well trained and given proper instructions to ensure that the movement of students and staff from one point to the other is safe and fast. Currently, the five drivers are employed on a part time basis and this is likely to de-motivate them from dedicating their time to serve the college. It is recommendable that the management employs drivers on a permanent basis and ensures that they are well remunerated. It is also important that the college advertises for a free position of a driver as one of them is almost reaching the retirement age. Early advertisement of the vacancy will ensure that the institution has enough time to go through the applicants and ensure that the best qualified candidate is selected. The management can even consider reducing the number of drivers by retiring those who are regularly sick or perpetual absentees so that it remains with only two or three drivers who are permanently employed at the college. However, this should be done in accordance with the law. For instance, those retired should be compensated as stipulated in the law to avoid court cases which are likely to stall the activities of revamping services at the college.

The management also needs to consider filling various positions that are left vacant such as that of the head of the institution, who has been missing and is feared dead, and the one that belongs to the head of outward bound and activity courses, which fell vacant after the departure of the former holder due to the disagreement with the head of the college. Future disagreements between staff should be avoided as it not only damages the reputation of the college but also negatively impacts on the service delivery at the institution. Another crucial position that requires immediate filling is the head of human resource as this position is vacant due to the retirement of its holder. It is recommended that this position is filled first because the HR will be help in hiring new employees and motivating workforce and may suggest ways of improving performance at the college. All of these changes will help the management to have a better staff, one which will be dedicated to its job and willing to work extra time to ensure that the college goes back to its previous position of being the college of choice among international students coming to the country to study.

Proper financial management is also significant in ensuring that an organization functions optimally. Analyzing the financial status of Grays College is one of the ways of curbing unnecessary expenses, which might make it difficult for the college to meet its financial obligations. The current student population is sufficient enough to provide the resources that are required to run the institution. Nevertheless, because of the poor financial systems at the college, a lot of financial resources have gone in areas which are not necessary to the college. The college also has other resources which could provide extra income, such as parking areas and leased lands, which are underutilized at the moment. It is recommended that the finance director makes a short-term arrangement with the bank to avert the current financial situation and also win some time to well organize and manage financial sources. This should just be a short-term measure and the management should revert to viable financial sources after a short while to avoid escalating the loan interests that the college will incur since it will depend financial institutions.

It is also essential that the money which is collected as fee charges and other sources from the college’s assets is used wisely by the finance director. This should be done by identifying the areas where money is spent but the services are not delivered as required and also those which are underfunded as a measure to stimulate quality service delivery in the college. Financial accountability should be the responsibility of the finance director. Negotiations with the bank about loans should also be revised to ensure that the interest that the college is charged reflects the existing rates in the market. This is because the college has defaulted in the payment of its loans in the past years, making the interest rates higher than the standard rates in the market. Generally, from the first day, the human resource manager should look for ways of boosting the morale of new employees in the organization by ensuring that the employees are integrated into the system. This can be achieved by allocating a person who will inform them about their roles and duties at the organization. The HR, therefore, should provide an opportunity for new employees to operate with the best personnel that are capable of delivering best services to the college. The human resource department oversees several undertakings, including welfare of the new staff, planning for work schedules, providing of working equipments, compensation, performance management, organization development, safety, wellness, benefits, employee motivation, communication, administration, and training. All these aspects need to be handled by the new management to ensure that each of them is implemented at the institution (Mintzberg 2002, p. 7).

Plant, Equipment, and Vehicles

In a competitive business environment, businesses and institutions must lay down strategic measures in order to survive in the market. Proper management of the institution’s plants, equipments, and vehicles is a non-core business practice, but it should not be neglected because of its impact on the overall performance of an institution. The director, therefore, needs to have a collective approach to the management of the college’s assets including buildings. This must be strategically defined in accordance with the strategic role it plays in the overall functioning of the institution. A collective approach is aimed at ensuring that assets are well managed and developed, which is mainly concerned with creation of an optimal business environment in which the entity can effectively perform its primary functions. In this regard, plants, equipments, and vehicles encompass a holistic approach to business infrastructures such as buildings and institution’s assets which are used in the delivery of services to the students and staff by ensuring that the services are at their best value.

Grays College needs to develop a policy document that outlines the approach to its assets when it comes to the issues of maintenance and repair as a way of ensuring effectiveness and responsiveness to the needs of the students and staff. It is also important that the management at the college takes the assets owned by the college as support equipments. This will lead to better services while at the same time help to ensure that products are delivered in a cost effective manner while creating a competitive advantage for the institution. In essence, there is a need for the college to implement a strategic facilities management policy to enhance the image and culture of the institution as the staff and students will associate the arrangement of facilities within the college with the value of services and products emanating from the same institution (Ragusa 2011, p. 13)

Proper and planned management strategy is an important factor in mainstreaming the property assets in the recent past institutions with old properties such as vehicles and buildings. In the recent past, colleges and institutions have discovered that a proper management of properties can contribute tremendously to the much needed growth in the institutional management more than other sectors in the industry. In the past, asset management was mainly concerned with physical and architectural planning of organization’s building. The contemporary practice in strategic management of assets emphasizes on the need to streamline value addition to property owners by addressing unnecessary and wasteful practices that negatively affect the business environment and overall implementation of core objectives of a business entity. Insightful planning and development of assets and infrastructures within Grays College require a strategic plan which would cater for the current need of the institution as well as future needs (Sanghera 2008, p. 35).

Having functional and well-maintained plants and equipment is one way of motivating the staff. Grays College has a number of prime assets which have not been utilized well or are simply underutilized. These assets can provide the financial resources which are needed to run the activities at the institution. Even though some of the assets are located in an environment which is not good for learning purposes, a proper and insightful planning can ensure that maximum use of the assets is achieved and that the staff and the students enjoy their time at the college. For instance, the facilities which are located in noisy areas such as near the railway could be leased out to other organizations or institutions which can find better businesses in the campus and the money received from the lease may be used to put up modern structures at the campus with better learning conditions. Moreover, the management should also consider renovating the preferable parking spaces and ensuring that there is order in the parking to avoid injuries. Repair and maintenance of the assets including buildings will provide appealing scenery, which might translate into higher rates of performance of the college students when compared with similar institutions around the country (Tomczyk 2010, p. 23).

Conclusion

Despite the huge fall in the enrolment at the college, the college management still has the opportunity to save the situation through initiation of immediate radical changes in its management and operation. The numerous assets that the college owns can be used more effectively through proper management and can provide an adequate income to the institution without necessarily relying on the bank. However, the financial director must first of all ensure that all strategic positions such as the human resource manager and subordinate staff are fully filled and the assets are well managed to be able to attract more students to the college. More important is the revision of the courses which are offered at the college because, currently, the competitors are offering much superior courses when compared to those at Grays College. This may come about as a hindrance to the plan to attract more students. Staff motivation is an equally important undertaking that the management should take seriously in order to restore the morale of the currently working staff so as to avoid the need to recruit completely new staff. The assets that the college owns could be leased out and others repaired so that they appeal to students who want to learn at the college. Administration should also be centralized in a renovated building and more should be invested in technology so that the campuses are all networked. This would facilitate communication between the students and the staff from various campuses. Finally, investing in better communication tools and enlarging of the central office will ease the congestion in the office and people will be served better.

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