There are a number of reasons why Awarding Organisations choose to outsource their exam processing and production. Here are the top 5.
If one or more resonate with you then maybe it’s time to consider an outsourced solution.
1. Increasing volumes of exam scripts
Your candidate numbers are on the up which is great news, however your organisation is feeling the strain. Production processes and staffing who have served you well in the past are struggling to meet deadlines and standards are in danger of dropping. As organisations grow their structure often has to change to meet the needs of the bigger and brighter future. Many AO’s decide at this point that a different approach is required and choose outsourcing as the solution.
2. Staffing decisions
It’s always difficult to get a good balance of staff to handle the peaks and troughs in demand, particularly at exam time. Operator training, operational staff turnover, finding holiday and sickness cover all compound the problem. When an AO has an opportunity to review staffing then outsourcing is often seen as a viable option. It deals with fluctuations in the demand for staffing, training is no longer a problem and finding last minute cover is unnecessary. In short it takes away the headache.
3. Aspirations to deliver International Exams
Moving into international markets can seem daunting. Processing exams for new territories bring additional complexity but the secure collection and return of exam scripts remains fundamental to success.
Your outsourcing partner should provide the knowledge, experience and expertise to ensure expansion into international markets is straightforward, smooth and secure. Look for a fully managed solution offering:
- Complete export documentation for the countries on your wish list
- Comprehensive tracking information on all your question papers and scripts
- Straight forward and clear collections and return documentation procedures
- Online access to information so you can personally deal with Examination Centre queries quickly and efficiently
- A successful track record of exam delivery abroad
Tim Cammack at SCD believes access to information is crucial to success. “It’s vitally important that the Awarding Organisation stays in command of their exam delivery and this means having access to all summary information.
“We ship over 10,000 consignments each year and have integrated with courier systems to help with smooth and efficient delivery of exam materials across the world. It’s absolutely fundamental therefore that information is collated and managed in a centralised MI system to provide quick and easy access to tracking information 24/7. Our clients access this information to stay fully updated with progress. They liaise directly with centres as needed, and can quickly deal with any queries.”
4. If it’s time to reinvest in new or replacement printing and scanning equipment.
Printing and scanning equipment and software can be expensive to buy plus there are the running costs to consider such as consumables, maintenance, repairs and upgrades. Preventative maintenance is a must as breakdowns are not only an unwelcome cost but can also have potentially disastrous consequences for exam delivery. Always do a cost/ benefit analysis against an outsourcing option before renewing contracts or upgrading equipment. It’s also wise factoring in your disaster recovery position too.
5. Expensive office space
More often than not AOs are located in prime real estate locations where space is both restricted and expensive. Processing exam scripts, packing and unpacking, sorting, collating and storing all requires space to help with efficiency and remove cross-contamination of materials. Furthermore, completed exam scripts may need to be stored for up to 12 months and onsite shredding needs to be accommodated as a requirement of your data retention policy.
Many organisations prefer to use their space to focus on core work such as centre and candidate support or release this extra space and reduce expensive rental overheads.