Improving Efficiency and Reducing Cost with the FAST Course Planning Tool

Learn how Okanagan College was able to utilize the FAST Student Course Planning tool to focus on data validation, maximize room utilization, and produce a course schedule more efficiently and under budget.
Erika Veth
FAST Student

More than three years into the release (and subsequent ongoing development) of Millennium's course planning tool within FAST’s Student application, yet another school is seeing significant benefits. After adopting Millennium’s course planning tool, Okanagan College located in Kelowna, British Columbia, has seen a nearly 50% reduction in time spent planning annual course schedules as well as more accurate data collection and improvement in streamlining the entire process overall.

“Rather than spending four months on data entry, we can focus on data validation, program optimization, and maximizing room utilization, which all aide in the production of a student-centered schedule.” Tiffany Clarke, Okanagan College

For those of you unfamiliar with MCSL’s course planning tool, I should stop here and explain that it does a lot more than assist with course planning—it is designed to help with enrollment planning and budgeting as well. Every school that implements Course Planning utilizes it in a slightly different way depending on the scope of what they are hoping to accomplish. The capabilities of the data analysis tool are a boon to the entire University community.  It not only benefits the front-end users who typically have to manually collect and enter enrollment and course planning data from spreadsheets into a shared ERP, but it is a huge leap forward for finance executives, enrollment management teams, and academic leadership struggling to collaboratively plan and make data-informed decisions regarding enrollment and budget.  Student and faculty benefit as well via effective course scheduling and faculty hiring.  

Streamlining Course Planning to Focus on Student Success

Okanagan sought to improve its manual course scheduling process, consisting of inputting data over seven months and requiring multiple Excel spreadsheets and emails. Course Scheduling for Okanagan College requires scheduling courses across four campuses while ensuring that students have the courses they need to graduate, offered at times that fit their schedules.   They needed to find an efficient way to balance cost considerations by providing the best possible experience for their students and faculty.  This included offering necessary courses while ensuring minimum class sizes to achieve a return on investment from staff salaries and overhead costs  

Okanagan College has been a long-time client of Millennium’s, so when Anna LaGreca from MCSL began to collaborate with Tiffany Clarke and Lianna Lillies from the Registrar’s Office at Okanagan on ways to streamline their course scheduling process, things took shape quickly.  Okanagan initially begins the course planning process from a budget perspective; how many courses will be offered, taught by whom, and at what cost/profit.  This helps the institution determine what tuition and fee changes will be required for the upcoming year and develop a baseline for what courses should be offered.  

Historically, department leaders were required to input proposed course information into budget spreadsheets and then, later, enter the same information into spreadsheets for the registrar’s office to begin the actual course scheduling process.  FAST Course Planning has allowed the same electronically stored information to be used for both tasks, eliminating duplication of efforts.  

Academic departments can easily view and modify proposed course schedules, using the budgeted course plan as a starting point.  Once proposed courses have been confirmed, the Registrar’s Office then directly loads the course plan into their scheduling software, eliminating yet another point of duplicate data entry.

According to Clarke, “Rather than spending four months on data entry, we can focus on data validation, program optimization, and maximizing room utilization, which all aide in the production of a student-centered schedule.”

The course scheduling team at Okanagan has observed additional benefits from improved data collection and reporting processes. These improvements have enabled them to identify bottlenecks and scheduling conflicts earlier in the process. Their Registrar and academic teams responsible for approving the final course plans feel more confident that their schedules will serve students and faculty more efficiently and transparently while improving the overall cost margins for the college.  

Clarke notes that she personally feels that on top of improving the time spent on course planning, the new process is more “predictable and reliable” and it “maximizes resource utilization to ensure [classroom] space is being used effectively with less wasted space.”

If you are interested in learning more about how using FAST’s applications to improve enrollment strategies, course planning, and budget and revenue forecasts, contact us today at

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