World Education Inc. is an online provider of tertiary education. As the name suggests, it employs the internet as the media through which it can reach the whole world and sell its educational product the WEI Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. It was started seven years ago and has survived many organizational as well as technological changes. The company has a hierarchical organizational structure with the Owner at the top, then Management, and below this tier three horizontally related divisions: Administration, Academics and Technology.
The four key World Education Inc. processes constitute its Enterprise Business Entities (EBEs) these are: the Owner, Management, Administration, Technology, and Academics. These EBEs co-operate in their operational phase through the exchange of production or management related information to cover the life cycle activity(ies) of the final product which is the WEI MBA degree. (Tølle and Vesterager 2009) One would ask why the World Education Inc. business model is not just ‘another business model’ but an ‘Agile Enterprise Business Model.’
The reason why this model is agile is because it divides World Education Inc. into four major Enterprise Business Entities (EBEs) and shows how these EBEs coordinate in a way that makes Word Education Inc. a versatile juggernaut that can adapt, change with, and thrive in today’s dynamic business battlefield.
The World Education Inc. Mission Statement is summarized in the following parts: Our goal:-is to be the best online tertiary education provider. Who we are: – a company which specializes in high quality, tertiary education in the areas of: (1) Business and Information Technology.
Why We Want To Be The Best:- We want the satisfaction and pride of achievement associated with being important, highly skilled members of an organization that is constantly working toward being the BEST in the education Industry and, with our families to share the material rewards that this success brings.
When We Will Be the Best: To be the BEST in the education industry, we will have a consistently growing number of satisfied students who recognize us as the leader in providing academic excellence. Our employees will demonstrate a high level of satisfaction with our company and their jobs. We will be recognized as a good corporate citizen by our employees and those people we impact in our communities, and our vendors will recognize us as an ethical and valuable customer.
We will be at or among the top education providers in our industry both in terms of sales and profitability, and we will maintain a record of consistent growth. As an aid in measuring our performance, we will compare ourselves annually to a select number of the top performing universities and to the education industry data available through our trade associations. (Dove at al 1996)
Tølle and Vesterager explain that a business entity’s functional divisions can be referred to as Enterprise Business Entities (EBEs). During the …life cycle of a [product] it is not often clear what is the extent of changes that are necessary, and often it is even less clear what is the list of enterprise entities involved in that change. There are many ways of conducting business. To carry out a change process successfully, the involved enterprise entities need to be identified, and their relations must be understood.
These relations will determine the business functions, and they must be chosen carefully to ensure continued operation. (par.2) Therefore these EBEs are not independent businesses but independent divisions of a company. World Education Inc. has adopted this Business Model as part of its 5 year strategy. Consequently, as part of the business model development, the strategic objectives for all those EBEs have been harmonized to serve as the ‘means’ that ‘justify the end’ which is our five year strategic plan. (Course notes 2010)
After three years in business, it was observed that although the internet is an excellent media of communication, it lacks the human touch. With students spread all over the globe there is a great need for us to have a human face. Students are tired of working with remote faceless communication terminals. In addition backstopping services such as debt collection, new student orientation, and paper based exam invigilation and so on require humans. These matters lead to the business project that is meant to change the way all our EBEs function. This is the ‘Local Support Center’ project.
The reason why businesses should anticipate change is because businesses are run by people and people change their minds for many reasons, and do so, on a regular basis. Factors leading to change of mind include: a missed a requirement. A stakeholder somewhere in the value chain will be working with an existing system and realize that it’s missing a feature. A defect identified. Also a client may realize they didn’t understand their actual need. It’s common to show a prospective student World Education’s curriculum only to have them realize that what they asked for really isn’t what they want after all. Politics.
The political landscape within World Education is very dynamic to put it lightly. As political power shifts amongst the business’ stakeholders, and it always does, so do their priorities. These changing political priorities will often motivate changes to requirements. Change in the marketplace. The competition may release a new product which implements features that our product doesn’t. And lastly, changes in legislation. Usually new legislation requires new features, or changes to existing features, in our business processes.
Figure1. Shows a graphical presentation of the World Education Inc. Agile Enterprise model. A brief explanation of how the EBEs cooperate to create agility is outlines in the following paragraphs.
The owner Mr. Smith has been an educationist for decades and has built a thriving world class primary education establishment. He decided to expand his business empire by venturing in tertiary education. He did not use any external financing to start up this business only his savings. He does not share ownership of the business with any one. This makes him very powerful and able to make decisions quickly. After observing that things are not as smooth as anticipated when it was decided that communication would be mainly through the internet, he decided that local centers are the solution to the human contact problem.
Additionally many governments require that World Education Inc. have a physical presence in these countries where it operates for better dispensation of services. Therefore Mr. Smith feels that the best way to maintain quality is to find loyal partners in these countries, and assist them financially as well as technically to create franchises that though located away from the country of origin, are a reflection of World Education Inc.
World Education Inc. management is headed by a renowned scholar who serves as the CEO. Assisting him is a diverse team of seven persons who came from different orientations. Some are in IT, others in management, finance, education and the civil service. With such a pool of expertise the company is able to form teams that carry out
Figure 1. Agile Enterprise Model for World Education Inc. shows how the four main processes work together as EBEs to support the student from the start to the completion of his/her MBA degree course.
Management tasks. The proposal to have local support centers was welcome. They only polished it and instructed the administration staff to implement it.
The administration unit carries out the key management functions of finance/Accounting, marketing, human resource management, control as well as monitoring and evaluation in accordance to the CEO’s strategic plan. Capable officers were dispatched to at least thirty of the world’s English speaking countries commonly referred as the commonwealth, with a mission to establish support centers. Some have succeeded while others have failed.
The academic arm of World Education Inc. is vested with the mandate to develop a top notch world class curriculum that is irresistible. The academic board is comprised of some of the best scholars in the country. They have all worked in the higher education industry for years and hence have the experience. Their work includes updating the syllabus, checking that exams are well set, conforming with legal requirements by the government and listening to student grievances.
At first it was easy to just produce the curriculum and have left to the IT geeks to run it on the internet. Now they have to grapple with adjusting the mode of delivery so that it can have some human touch to it. They have to somehow involve the local centers although their main focus is online delivery of educational services.
Lastly, the IT EBE is the backbone of World Education Inc. the head of this entity is a member of the academic board and an IT guru. The company has permanent staffs who make sure that the website it on 24/7 and always updated. Apart from the normal hotmail stuff, the website has a special academic management system by the name Black book that carries the units, logins, grading and so on; availing a virtual class to any one willing and able to study online from the remotest parts of the earth.
The product is the WEI MBA degree. It starts its life cycle when a student applies for admission ad is accepted. All EBEs contribute at some stage to the student completing the degree. The IT platform is the most dynamic of all. For the last three years it has managed to change from the use of normal email addresses as the main tool for learning to WebCT then upgraded to BlackBook. Word is going round that soon the system will be upgraded to run on Moodle.
All the EBEs strive to maintain the high values instilled by the funder Prof. Smith. As shown in the diagram the company has three layers of function. Management and administration are supported by a management system; the academic EBE is connected to the students through Black book while the whole system is rests under the elaborate IT infrastructure.
It has been observed that no matter how complicated a model is; a business model comprises of two things: Business Requirements and the Technology that powers the execution of these requirements. This model takes into consideration internal processes that concentrate on its key competencies. For the company to achieve its strategic plan, the EBEs have to execute their individual mandates as they service the product through its life cycle. The an agile modeling approach is the oil that makes the organization to run smoothly. It saves on time, administrative costs and provides conveniences that earlier approached could not achieve. With this approach we are prepared to face the future with confidence.
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