Learning and education has become an imperative cause which facilitates individuals to gain knowledge and to enhance the prospects of employability. Educational institutions play a significant role and are the perennial source of knowledge and quality education. Having said that, it is also to be noted that maintaining the standard of these institutions is of paramount importance which lay a platform for a good institution. The corner stone of this essay is to determine the role of capacity planning in educational institutions which forms a very important part of strategic plan.
Capacity planning is the known as the process of determining the production capacity needed by an organization to meet changing demands of its products. Stevenson ((1999) p. 208) defines capacity as “The upper limit or ceiling of the load that an operating unit can handle, with the operating unit defined as plant, department, machine, store, or worker” (Johnson, D. M., 2001). The factors that determine the effectiveness of capacity panning in an educational institution includes, Operational cost, Cost of expansion, availability of lab, Computers etc.
Need for capacity Planning:
It is proved that universities form one of the oldest established institutions and despite frequent changes in the way they function, they retain policies of their medieval period. These legendary universities are similar to today's organizations in management perspective. Both universities and business organizations face common problems of coordinating resources, controlling cost, and facilitating enterprise among staff, etc. There is a common solution to build a standard structure and use the Information Technology (IT) tools like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) (Chan, T. C., 2002).
Most of the Educational institutions are government sponsored or funded by private sources; Due to this, there is not much external pressure. But in cases where finance is an issue, the management has to focus more on capacity planning and resource allocation. The senior administrators have to integrate capacity planning in terms of capital assets, operating expenses and human resources into their strategy for their institution. More specifically, the focus should be on the overall operational capability and shortfalls in operating budgets for new ideas and sustaining existing facilities (Johnson, D. M., 2001).
Capacity planning, as shown in figure 1, is primarily a part of the operational plan; it aides in the optimal performance of other quarters of the intended strategy. Figure 1 shows a framework of overall strategy planning and related execution cues. The framework does not give the order or specific relations between various divisions, in an actual scenario, all the parts are closely inter-related and have to be dealt in conjunction with other departments of planning. The operational leg of the plan shown in the above diagram has few similarities and difference that should be noticed. Mostly all educational institution have their own research and development lab facilities but there is always a gap between the capabilities of the equipment and the intentions and needs of the research which results primarily from the time gap between the research proposal and delivery of equipments, and constant change in the direction of research (Johnson, D. M., 2001).
Capacity Plan Components
Capacity planning of an institution can be divided into (a) Building (b) Technology/Equipment (c) Classroom Utilization (d) Program Subscription (e) Course Offering and (f) Scheduling. Based on the horizon of implementation, these spheres of planning can be broadly classified into: the short-term and long-term (Chan, T. C., 2002).
Short-term issues include availability of classrooms, teaching and non-teaching staff to support the ongoing courses and adapting the existing technology / equipments to suite the new requirements and additional capacity.