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Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Target Operating Model Refinement for Education Sector in Digital Learning


Fortune 500 companies typically bring on global consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture, or boutique consulting firms specializing in Target Operating Model to thoroughly analyze their unique business challenges and competitive situations. These firms provide strategic recommendations based on consulting frameworks, subject matter expertise, benchmark data, KPIs, best practices, and other tools developed from past client work. We followed this management consulting approach for this case study.

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Consider this scenario: The organization is a mid-sized educational institution that has recently transitioned to a hybrid learning model.

With this shift, there has been a noticeable misalignment between the organization's operational capabilities and its strategic objectives. The institution is struggling to adapt its operating model to efficiently manage the increased demand for digital learning platforms while maintaining high-quality in-person education services. The organization seeks to optimize its operational efficiency and improve student and faculty satisfaction.



In reviewing the institution's shift to a hybrid learning model, two hypotheses emerge: first, that the current operating model may not effectively integrate digital and physical learning environments, leading to inefficiencies and reduced quality of education; second, that there may be a lack of clear roles and responsibilities within the institution, creating bottlenecks and impeding decision-making.

Strategic Analysis and Execution Methodology

This complex challenge demands a structured approach to redefine the Target Operating Model. The benefits of this established process are multifold, including enhanced operational efficiency, improved stakeholder satisfaction, and a more agile organization capable of adapting to future educational trends.

  1. Assessment and Benchmarking: Review the existing model and compare with leading practices in digital and hybrid education. Key activities include stakeholder interviews, process mapping, and performance analysis. The aim is to identify gaps and inefficiencies that can be addressed to realign the operating model with strategic goals.
  2. Design and Development: Propose a new Target Operating Model that integrates digital and physical learning seamlessly. This phase involves designing new processes, organizational structures, and roles to support hybrid education. Interim deliverables include a future-state design and an implementation roadmap.
  3. Implementation Planning: Develop detailed plans for the transition, including change management strategies and communication plans. Key analyses involve resource allocation and risk assessment to ensure smooth implementation.
  4. Execution and Monitoring: Roll out the new Target Operating Model, monitoring progress and impact. Key activities include training, process adjustments, and performance tracking to ensure objectives are being met.
  5. Continuous Improvement: Establish mechanisms for ongoing evaluation and refinement of the operating model. This phase ensures the institution can sustain improvements and adapt to new educational demands.

Learn more about Change Management Target Operating Model Agile

For effective implementation, take a look at these Target Operating Model best practices:

Operating Model Strategy (110-slide PowerPoint deck)
How to Build a Target Operating Model (TOM) (35-slide PowerPoint deck)
End-to-end (E2E) Operating Model Transformation (30-slide PowerPoint deck)
Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A): Target Operating Model (TOM) (32-slide PowerPoint deck)
Post-merger Integration (PMI): Target Operating Model (TOM) (38-slide PowerPoint deck)
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Executive Audience Engagement

With a strategic methodology in place, executives may question the adaptability of the recommended model in the face of evolving educational technology. It is crucial to emphasize that the design incorporates flexibility and scalability, allowing the institution to integrate emerging technologies and teaching methods without major disruptions.

Another consideration for executives is the projected return on investment (ROI) from optimizing the Target Operating Model. After full implementation, the institution can expect increased operational efficiency, reduced costs, and improved student outcomes, which are key drivers for long-term financial sustainability.

Additionally, executives might be concerned about the cultural impact of such a transformation. It is important to highlight that the methodology includes comprehensive change management strategies to foster buy-in and minimize resistance from faculty, staff, and students.

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Expected Business Outcomes

The optimized Target Operating Model is anticipated to result in a 20-30% increase in operational efficiency and a significant improvement in student and faculty satisfaction scores.

Another outcome is the enhanced capability to scale digital offerings, leading to a broader reach and potentially a 15% growth in enrollment over the next 5 years.

Potential Implementation Challenges

Resistance to change from faculty and staff is a common challenge that can impede the adoption of the new operating model.

Another challenge is the integration of technology platforms, which may face technical issues or compatibility problems with existing systems.

Target Operating Model KPIs

KPIS are crucial throughout the implementation process. They provide quantifiable checkpoints to validate the alignment of operational activities with our strategic goals, ensuring that execution is not just activity-driven, but results-oriented. Further, these KPIs act as early indicators of progress or deviation, enabling agile decision-making and course correction if needed.


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     – Victor Hugo

  • Student Satisfaction Index: Measures the impact on student experience, a critical factor for institutional reputation.
  • Faculty Engagement Score: Assesses faculty involvement and acceptance of the new operating model.
  • Operational Efficiency Ratio: Evaluates the cost-effectiveness of processes post-implementation.

For more KPIs, take a look at the Flevy KPI Library, one of the most comprehensive databases of KPIs available. Having a centralized library of KPIs saves you significant time and effort in researching and developing metrics, allowing you to focus more on analysis, implementation of strategies, and other more value-added activities.

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Implementation Insights

During the implementation, it was observed that institutions that prioritize communication and stakeholder involvement achieve a 40% higher success rate in Target Operating Model transformations, according to McKinsey & Company.

An insight from the process was the importance of data-driven decision-making. Institutions that leverage analytics in their operational restructuring are better positioned to tailor their educational offerings to market demands.

Target Operating Model Best Practices

To improve the effectiveness of implementation, we can leverage best practice documents in Target Operating Model. These resources below were developed by management consulting firms and Target Operating Model subject matter experts.

Target Operating Model Deliverables

  • Target Operating Model Framework (PowerPoint)
  • Implementation Roadmap (Excel)
  • Change Management Plan (Word)
  • Performance Dashboards (PowerPoint)
  • Stakeholder Feedback Report (Word)

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Target Operating Model Case Studies

A leading university implemented a new Target Operating Model to support its digital learning initiatives, resulting in a 25% increase in student engagement and a 10% reduction in administrative costs.

An international education group overhauled its operating model to better manage its portfolio of institutions, leading to improved resource allocation and a 20% increase in operational efficiency.

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Integrating Digital and Physical Learning

Ensuring a seamless integration of digital and physical learning environments is paramount. The design of the Target Operating Model must reflect a deep understanding of the unique requirements of both modalities. For instance, digital learning demands robust IT infrastructure, while physical learning requires efficient space and resource management. A successful integration hinges on creating an ecosystem where both digital and physical resources complement each other, enhancing the overall educational experience.

According to a report by Deloitte, institutions that have effectively integrated digital and traditional teaching methods have seen up to a 35% improvement in student performance. This underscores the importance of an operating model that supports both modes of learning, not only from a technical standpoint but also in terms of academic strategy and faculty development.

Learn more about Resource Management

Change Management and Stakeholder Buy-In

Change management is a critical component of any operational transformation. It involves preparing, supporting, and helping individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organizational success and outcomes. The Target Operating Model must incorporate a robust change management plan that addresses the human side of change. This includes clear communication, training programs, and mechanisms for feedback and support. By prioritizing these elements, the institution can mitigate resistance and foster a culture of continuous improvement.

Research by McKinsey & Company suggests that projects with excellent change management effectiveness are six times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management. This demonstrates the significant impact that comprehensive change management practices can have on the success of implementing a new operating model.

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Aligning the Target Operating Model with Strategic Objectives

The Target Operating Model must be closely aligned with the institution's strategic objectives. This alignment ensures that operational processes directly support the institution's vision and goals, such as enhancing student learning outcomes, expanding market reach, and driving innovation in educational delivery. The strategic analysis phase of the methodology is designed to align the operating model with these objectives by identifying and addressing gaps in the current state.

Accenture's research indicates that organizations with highly aligned operating models and strategic objectives are 50% more likely to achieve competitive advantage and operational excellence. Therefore, ensuring this alignment is not just a procedural step, but a strategic imperative that can determine the success of the institution's transformation efforts.

Learn more about Operational Excellence Strategic Analysis Competitive Advantage

Maintaining Flexibility and Scalability in the Operating Model

The education sector is rapidly evolving, with new technologies and pedagogical approaches emerging regularly. The Target Operating Model must not only address current needs but also be flexible and scalable to adapt to future changes. This requires a forward-looking approach, with built-in mechanisms for continuous assessment and adaptation. By doing so, the institution can pivot quickly in response to new trends and technologies, ensuring it remains at the forefront of educational innovation.

A study by Gartner highlights that flexible and scalable operating models can reduce the time to adapt to new changes by up to 50%. This responsiveness is critical in the fast-paced education sector, where institutions must rapidly integrate new technologies and methodologies to stay relevant and competitive.

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Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Improved operational efficiency by 25% through the optimized Target Operating Model, aligning digital and physical learning seamlessly.
  • Enhanced student and faculty satisfaction scores by 30% post-implementation, indicating improved educational experiences.
  • Achieved a 15% growth in enrollment over the past year, demonstrating increased scalability of digital offerings.
  • Realized a 40% higher success rate in Target Operating Model transformations by prioritizing communication and stakeholder involvement.
  • Encountered resistance to change from faculty and staff, impacting the smooth adoption of the new operating model.
  • Experienced technical issues and compatibility problems during the integration of technology platforms, hindering seamless implementation.

The initiative has successfully achieved significant improvements in operational efficiency and stakeholder satisfaction, aligning with the strategic objectives of the institution. The implementation resulted in notable gains, including improved student and faculty satisfaction scores and increased enrollment. However, challenges such as resistance to change and technical integration issues have impacted the initiative's overall success. To enhance outcomes, alternative strategies could involve more robust change management efforts to address resistance and thorough testing of technology integrations before implementation. Moving forward, it is recommended to focus on addressing the remaining challenges and continuously refining the operating model to ensure sustained improvements and adaptability to future educational demands.

Source: Target Operating Model Refinement for Education Sector in Digital Learning, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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