Southeast Technical Institute Systems Portfolio November 2010 
    Feb 07, 2023  
Southeast Technical Institute Systems Portfolio November 2010 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Category Eight: Planning Continuous Improvement





8P1 Key Planning Processes

STI uses a continuous quality improvement process framework when implementing key plans. As Chart 8.1 shows, the process consists of these steps: develop (plan), communicate, implement, evaluate, and revise and celebrate. 

Table 8.1 describes STI’s key planning processes and the individuals, groups and/or teams responsible for these processes. These processes align with STI’s mission of educating for employment.

Table 8.1 Key Planning Processes

Responsible Team or Person
Key Input Teams or Individuals
Strategic Planning
President Futures Team
STI Council, School Board, Administration, AQIP Futures Team
VP of Finance
Administration, Program Teams, STI Departments
Academic Program Planning VP of Academics Administration, Program Teams, Advisory Committees, Curriculum Committee, AQIP Education Design and Delivery Team
Capital Equipment Planning
VP of Finance
Administration, Program Teams, STI Departments
Capital Improvement Planning
VP of Finance
STI Council, Administration, Program Teams, STI Departments
Technology Planning
Director of Information Technology
Administration, Information Technology Department, Academic Technology Committee, AQIP Education Design and Delivery Team, LMS Technology Committee, Campus Management Systems Committee, Program Teams, STI Departments
Department Planning
Administrator in charge of department
Department Staff
Business and Industry Training Planning
Director of Business and Industry Training
Administration, Business and Industry, BIT Faculty
Foundation Planning
Foundation Director
President, Foundation Board
Marketing Planning
Marketing Coordinator
Marketing Committee

Strategic Planning

STI’s strategic planning process guides the institution’s budget, academic program, and other planning processes. The process enables the institution to identify priorities, address stakeholder needs, and accomplish its mission and goals.

Strategic Goals are developed every 3 to 5 years and are reviewed and revised annually. The process begins with a review of the institute’s mission, vision, and values, and the successes and failures of the previous strategic goals. This is followed by a SWOT analysis of the institution. From this analysis and review, draft goals and objectives are established. The goals are further defined and discussed using the following questions:

  1. Does STI want to pursue this goal/objective?
  2. Does this objective fit within this goal?
  3. How will STI monitor progress and measure results for this goal or objective?
  4. Is the objective strategic or an on-going operational activity?

STI’s 2010-2011 strategic goals, with their objectives, connection to the AQIP categories, and Targets are listed in Table 8.2.

Table 8.2 STI Strategic Goals, Objectives and Targets for 2009-2010

Goal Priority
AQIP Category Target
#1 Student Success
Increase number of students who complete programs
Helping Students Learn 60% Graduation Rate

Maintain quality and relevance of programs
Helping Students Learn 100% of Eligible Programs  Maintain Accreditation Status

Increase student achievement of licensures, certifications, and other recognized indicators of success
Helping Students Learn 100% of Programs with Students Above National Mean Licensure/Certification Pass Rates

Develop new programs
Helping Students Learn Two New Programs for fall 2011
#2 Leverage Resources
Continue plan of capital improvement
Supporting Institutional Operations Completion of the STI Success Center by fall 2011 (AQIP Action Project)

Develop funding sources
Supporting Institutional Operations STI Foundation Develops Additional Industry Partnerships

Develop human resources
Valuing People Creation of a Faculty Development Process (AQIP Action Project**) and Staff Orientation Process by 2011

Revise and implement marketing, sales & recruitment plan
Supporting Institutional Operations and Planning Continuous Improvement Continue Implementation of Plan for Low Enrollment Programs

Link performance analysis to budget, planning & decisionmaking
Measuring Effectiveness and Planning Continuous Improvement Develop a Budget Document that Includes Data, Action Projects, and Targets for All Cost Centers by fall 2011

Enhance Information Technology resources and services
Supporting Institutional Operations Complete Printing Solution Implementation, Communication System, Enhanced STI Alert Features, Enhanced Wireless Network (AQIP Action Project), and Enhanced Laptop Inventory/Asset Management System by fall 2010
#3 Collaborative Relationships
Identify and benchmark with peer group partners
Building Collaborative Relationships Participate in the National Community College Benchmark Project (NCCBP) and use data for Improvements

Develop articulation partnerships
Building Collaborative Relationships Develop a Nuclear Medicine Program Articulation Process by fall 2012*

Foster business, industry, and community partnerships
Building Collaborative Relationships Develop Ten New Partnerships and Maintain Current Industry Relationships

*Fall 2010: Articulation for six health programs with the University of South Dakota has been approved and will be implemented for Fall 2011.
**Fall 2010 Implementation of AQIP Action Project: Comprehensive Faculty Training

Participants in the planning process include a strategic planning committee called the AQIP Futures Team, which includes representation from faculty, staff, and administration (including the STI President). Additional input is sought from faculty and staff by providing them the opportunity to review the draft strategic plan. Community input is provided through the STI Council and Sioux Falls School Board.

Once a strategic plan is developed, the STI Council reviews and recommends the plan for approval by the Sioux Falls School Board. The School Board has final authority to approve the STI Strategic Plan. Communication of the strategic plan is accomplished through meetings, publications, web site postings, and presentations to internal and external stakeholders.

The AQIP Futures Team meets periodically to review and revise the strategic plan and monitor progress toward goals as needed. STI’s Administrative Team interprets the strategic plan by setting yearly institutional projects for each strategic objective. Institutional projects are tied to the mission and strategic goals, communicated to faculty and staff in the fall, and implemented throughout the year. The strategies include measurable goals, completion timelines, assignment of administrative responsibilities, and status updates and notes. Status is reviewed in weekly Administrative Team meetings and quarterly STI Council meetings. Implementation is accomplished through the appropriate committee, program, or departments. Updates on projects are given at STI’s Monthly Meetings, through emails such as Jeff’s Corner, at committee or team meetings, or as written documents posted on the STInet site.


The STI budget is the key planning document for other plans. Each fall, STI begins its budget planning process, which involves all areas of the institute and requires input from every department and program. During these conversations, administrators gather input from faculty and staff regarding program and department general budget needs, such as staffing, supplies, travel and professional development, etc. Administrators also gather information on capital equipment, capital improvement and technology needs. Department and program action projects are considered in the budget planning process. Information from these planning meetings is brought back to the Administrative Team for discussion and final decisions. Once completed, the budget is presented to the STI Council by STI Administration and staff as part of a Budget Review Committee. The recommendation of the STI Council is sent to the Sioux Falls School Board for final approval.

Academic Program Planning

STI’s Academic Administrative Team is responsible for working with faculty on program planning. The planning begins with program faculty identifying three program action projects  each fall and developing program priorities to be discussed during the budget and program planning meetings. Faculty and administration discuss staffing and program expense needs as well as program accreditations, future program goals, program expansion, etc. Information gathered from Advisory Committees and other stakeholders is also shared at this time.

A yearly faculty Academic Planning Calendar  has been developed to assist faculty in the completion of all required planning steps and reports.

Capital Equipment and Capital Improvement Planning

Capital equipment and capital improvement needs are prioritized by the Administrative Team and are placed on the Capital Equipment and Capital Improvement plans. These plans identify the items to be addressed each year for up to five years in the future. If funds are not available in a given year to complete an item, the item is reprioritized to determine if it moves to another year. If funds become available, an item may move to an earlier year. The process allows STI to focus on the most important items while maintaining an accurate list for all needs.

Technology Planning

Institute Technology needs arise from students, faculty, and staff feedback, Helpdesk reports, Information Technology Department meetings, student surveys of instruction, student satisfaction surveys, Advisory Committees, and STI committee and budget meetings. Once identified, technology needs are prioritized by the Administrative Team, and items are either included as part of the budget or as part of the Capital Equipment or Capital Improvement plans.

Department Planning

Similar to program planning, Department Plans (Admissions, Finance, Marketing, Financial Aid, Student Success, and other departments) parallel the Academic Program Planning process. Department action projects are developed throughout the year through meetings between the appropriate administrator and staff, and are then implemented throughout the year. These strategies focus on improving processes and services to better meet student needs. Strategies requiring funding are placed in the department budget for consideration by the Administrative Team.

Business and Industry Training Planning

The Business and Industry Training (BIT) Division is beginning a strategic planning process in order to review and revise business and personnel practices. This process will help the division bring its operations to a “best practices” standard to better serve both internal and external customers.

BIT is undertaking a significant software upgrade as the division transitions to Jenzabar’s Higher Reach. This software will allow BIT to track and report on training activities, undertake e-marketing campaigns and transition to a true shopping cart environment for online registrations.

Foundation Planning

STI Foundation planning centers around a 5-year Development Plan based on its mission to obtain, manage and allocate contributions to support STI students. The current plan was approved by the Sioux Falls School Board in January 2009 and is reviewed and updated annually by the STI Foundation Board, STI Institutional Advancement Officer and STI President. In this plan, the STI Foundation Board defines its key goals as continuing to build corporate awareness of the value STI brings to our community through workforce development and supporting student success through scholarships and targeted initiatives.

Marketing Planning

Since marketing is such a critical aspect of STI’s success, STI has established a Marketing Committee to address STI marketing needs and planning. The committee includes the Marketing Coordinator and marketing staff, President, Director of Students, and the STI Web Specialist and meets weekly to set and implement STI’s marketing plan.

The plan helps assure that all facets of marketing – print, media, web, phone, etc. – are used effectively and convey a coherent message and accomplish efficient use of limited resources.

8P2 Short- and Long-Term Strategies

Long-term strategies are selected through STI Council, Administrative Team, and faculty and staff input. Multi-year strategies are based upon a SWOT analysis, prior Strategic Goal initiatives, institutional research, and analysis of regional community and business needs. Initial priority statements are developed and discussed by the Futures Team and are refined into a draft Strategic Plan.

Short-term strategies are selected by the STI Administrative Team at the institutional level and by faculty and staff at the program and department levels. These strategies are chosen according to the needs of the area and support the mission and Strategic Goals of the institute. Selection of strategies at the program level is determined by program faculty with input from the program’s Advisory Committee and approved by STI administration. Department level strategies are selected by the staff and administrators in that department. Faculty and staff examine regional and institutional trends, industry feedback and input, student learning data, student satisfaction, employer satisfaction, enrollment, retention rates, and graduation rates when selecting their projects.

Short term strategies must meet the following criteria:

  • Does it align with the institute’s Strategic Goals?
  • Is it something STI wants to pursue?
  • Can it be accomplished within 18 to 24 months? If not, can it be broken down into shorter action projects?
  • Is it a strategic or on-going operational action?

8P3 Key Action Plans

Once strategic goals and objectives are determined, Administration and the AQIP Futures Team develop and prioritize them. Supportive key projects are then developed at the department and program levels. The Administrative Team sets the AQIP Action Projects  and annual institutional projects with input from business and industry, faculty, and staff. Table 8.3 describes the action project timeframe. (See Table 8.4 for status on AQIP projects.)

Table 8.3 Development of Key Action Projects

Strategic Plan developed
Spring – once every three years
Institutional strategic projects developed
Summer – yearly
Program and Department level action projects developed.
Fall – yearly
Institutional AQIP Action Projects identified
Periodically, annual update report to AQIP each September

8P4 Planning Process Alignment

Coordination of the planning process is the responsibility of STI’s Administrative Team and occurs through the budget process, Administrative Team weekly meetings, Administrative Team and program/department meetings, and meetings with the STI Council. Alignment occurs through the use of the Action Database and meetings among faculty, staff and administration to assure that all action projects align with the institute’s strategic goals and mission. Institutional projects set by administration are reviewed by the STI Council to assure alignment.

Departments and program action projects are developed in the fall of each year. As part of the documentation process, these action projects are required to be aligned with the goals of the Strategic Plan and annual institutional strategies. A drop-down box in the Action Database allows staff to select which of the strategic goals a project addresses. The administrator for the area is responsible for assuring that action projects align with institute goals. The action projects  are documented in and monitored through a database that all employees have access to on the STInet Employee tab.

The STInet website is the central connecting point for planning documents and communication. The Strategic Plan, AQIP Action Projects, and institutional goals and objectives are posted on the Continuous Quality tab and are available for public viewing. Department and program action projects are located through the STInet website.

The coordination and alignment of STI goals, objectives and action projects is an area that the institute believes it can improve.

8P5 Strategies and Action Plans

Through work sessions with a member of the STI Council and the Futures Team, the STI administrative Team developed the institute’s current goals and objectives. Goals and objectives were then approved by the STI Council.

Each Strategic, AQIP, annual institutional, and department or program project requires the inclusion of outcome descriptions, measurements, and indicators of success, which are set by the administration, staff and faculty involved in the project.

Measurements and performance targets are based on previous data and performances, benchmarking with other institutions or industry, accreditation benchmarks or requirements, and the identification and development of new data elements.

Institutionally, STI has established Key Performance Indicators  and performance targets for the institute, including graduation rates, graduate employment rates, employer satisfaction rates, student satisfaction rates, and Writing Across the Curriculum and program assessments. These targets were developed through several years of monthly meetings of the AQIP Information and Analysis Team, which included membership from staff, faculty and administration. Key Performance Indicators are approved by the STI Council and updated as new data becomes available. This varies according to the indicator.

In addition, at the end of each year, programs and departments document accomplishments and challenges in the Action Database. Administration reviews the report and used it to set priorities for the following year as well as to celebrate accomplishments.

8P6 Linking Strategies and Actions with Current Resources and Future Needs

As plans are developed at each level, resource needs are determined and included in budget discussions throughout the fall semester. At the program and department levels, discussions on resource needs are conducted with the administrator in charge of that area. The administrator works with the staff and faculty to further define, eliminate, or revise these resource needs. Final resource needs are discussed and prioritized by the Administrative Team as part of the budget process.

The Administrative Team then makes additional adjustments to budget resource requests, removing or deferring some, while requesting others be included in the proposed budget for the following year. At each step of the process, the resource request and its potential to move the institute toward its strategic goals are discussed. Those requests that do not meet or have less impact on attaining the goals of the institute are either removed or deferred to another year.

STI maintains Capital Equipment and Capital Improvement lists that appropriate STI funds annually and establish multi-year improvement lists for future consideration and budget allocations. Capital projects may be moved forward or deferred according to the needs of the institute and the availability of funds. These lists are reviewed and adjusted annually as part of a rolling budget process.

STI’s allocation of resources demonstrates a responsible strategy for linking mission with current and future viability. Figure 8.1 shows general expenditure categories. In keeping with the mission of educating for employment and emphasis on teaching and learning, a major portion (64%) of STI’s resources are allocated to student learning and support.



8P7 Assessing and Addressing Risk

Throughout the planning process, STI administration considers institutional risks and adjusts the budget accordingly. STI approaches every budget year with conservative estimates both in terms of revenue and expenses. Any major increases in budget allocations require support documentation and justification. This justification must include how the budget increase will help STI reach its strategic goals and how the increase will be funded. The President makes final decisions regarding the STI budget before it is presented to the STI Council. The STI Council reviews the budget in its entirety and makes any additional necessary adjustments. Once a budget has been adopted, the opportunity for a supplement can be addressed as need arises, but the change must be approved by the STI Council and the Sioux Falls School Board.

STI maintains at least 20% of its budget in reserves. Reserve funds may be utilized for emergency purposes. As part of a risk management process, the South Dakota Department of Education is increasing the technical institute maintenance and repair fund to cover emergency facility repair and maintenance issues.

As the Revenue Sources Chart 8.2 indicates, only 39% of revenue comes from federal and state funding. With the current economic climate, a significant portion of revenue must be generated from tuition and fees.

8P8 Professional Development

Professional development of STI’s administrators, faculty and staff is an integral part of STI’s success. Therefore, STI has developed various methods to help nurture all STI employees to meet the ever-changing needs of the institute and its stakeholders:

  • STI holds monthly meetings for all employees to ensure that all staff and faculty are apprised of current developments and directional changes of the institution. These meetings also include mini in-service opportunities for training. An additional meeting for faculty is held each month with the Academic Administrative Team.
  • Departments and program teams meet throughout the year, generally two or more times a month, to discuss the direction and needs of the area. These meetings may include training opportunities that are specific to that area.
  • Each budget area also has the opportunity to include funding within their budget to allow staff and faculty to attend workshops and conferences.
  • Two positions have been dedicated to provide instructional and technology support for faculty.
  • New STI full time faculty participate in a year-long mentoring program designed to help them transition to their roles as instructors.
  • Training is provided to faculty and staff whenever new changes are introduced into the existing culture. This may include training in areas such as new software, budget process, campus alert system, phone system, and printer/copier use.

See also Category Four: Valuing People  4P 8  and 4P 9 .


8R1 Measures of the Effectiveness of Planning Process and Systems

Analysis of the planning effectiveness measures begins with a review of the Key Performance Indicators and results of AQIP Action Projects and institutional, department, and program projects. Review of these results occurs on a yearly basis, with reports completed in April and May. Results are compared to the strategic goals and to the institute’s performance targets to determine the overall impact of the action projects. If a part of the plan is not meeting the goals of the institute, that portion may be adjusted or removed.

If there is a disconnect between the measurement and the action projects, strategic goals or performance indicators, the institute revises the performance measures for the next planning cycle. This helps assure better monitoring and connections between action projects and strategic goals. The ultimate goal is to develop a better planning process and cycle during the following year to better meet the institute’s needs.

8R2 Performance Results for Accomplishing Organizational Strategies and Action Plans

STI’s results of strategies and action projects can be viewed in the following areas:

STI Key Performance Indicators: Table 8.3 shows current STI performance indicator results. These indicators help STI stay focused on its overall goals and provide valuable feedback on how the institute is currently performing.

STI AQIP Action Projects: Table 8.4 lists STI’s AQIP Action Projects. The accomplishment of these action projects provides strong evidence of institutional level performance and accomplishment of strategic goals.

Table 8.4 STI Action Projects

Strategic Goal
AQIP Action Project
Start Date Result Current Status
Develop an STI Council
Fall 2007 The STI Council was developed in fall 2007 and is currently providing additional direction and support for theinstitute. Completed Fall 2008
Build Evening Programs
Spring 2008 An evening coordinator was hired to assist with the development of evening programs and students as well
as recruit students and market evening programs.
Completed Spring 2010
Develop and Implement a Strategy to Help At-Risk Students
Fall 2007 STI developed and implemented a Student Success Seminar course and hired three Student Success Advisors. Completed Fall 2009
Develop a Student Success Center
Spring 2009 STI is currently remodeling the Mickelson Center to include a Student Success Center. In Progress
Develop a Comprehensive Faculty Training Program
Spring 2010 In summer 2010 a five-day new faculty training program was implemented. STI is now working on ways to build on this training. In Progress
Improve On-Campus Wireless Access, Speed and Efficiency
Spring 2010 A networked printer/copier solution and VOIP phone system has been implemented. Bandwidth and improved network connections are scheduled for spring 2011. In Progress

STI Department and Program Action Projects: Results of department and program action projects are documented in the STI Action Database and show significant progress toward obtaining department and program level goals.

8R3 Strategy and Action Plan Performance Targets (1 to 3 years)

STI’s AQIP, institutional, program and department projects are directly tied to its key institutional targets. STI has set the following 2010-2013 targets as measures of the effectiveness of its strategies and action projects:

  • Increase enrollments to a yearly unduplicated headcount of 3,100.
  • Increase cohort retention rates to 90% from first to second semester.
  • Increase cohort retention rates to 75% from first to second year.
  • Increase cohort three-year graduation rates to 60%

8R4 Comparative Results

STI has developed comparison groups through the IPEDS data system that includes all the South Dakota public post-secondary universities and technical institutes. This has allowed STI to benchmark its performance with other higher education organizations in the region.

As shown in Table 8.5, STI compares favorably with other South Dakota public institutes (two and four year) in two of the three areas. STI is developing ways to improve its fall to fall retention rates; however, STI’s graduation rates are consistent with area institutions, and STI’s continued low tuition and fees provide students with an excellent education at a low cost.

Table 8.5 IPEDS Data Comparisons

Comparison Category
STI Results
South Dakota Area Mean
Fall to Fall Retention Rates – first-time, full-time degree seeking – fall 2008
Graduation Rates – first-time, full-time, degree seeking – 2005 cohort
Tuition and Fees – first-time, full-time, degree seeking – 2008-2009

At the state level, the South Dakota Board of Education requires that the four technical institutes provide yearly data elements that allow for comparison among the four institutes.

Table 8.6 State Board of Education Comparisons

Comparison Category
STI Results
Tech Institute Mean
Fall to Fall Retention Rates (state retention definition) 2008 to 2009
Enrollments Fall 2009
Graduate Placement Rates – Employed 2008 Graduates

Programs requiring certifications or licensures for students are able to make comparisons to national pass rates. STI’s pass rates for these programs in comparison to national standards are detailed in Table 1.8 in section 1R 3 .

Student satisfaction rates are measured using the Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory . STI consistently ranks above the national mean in a majority of the categories.

Table 8.7 STI to National SSI Comparison in Major Categories

Survey Major Categories
National Mean Difference
Student Centeredness
5.34 .07*
Instructional Effectiveness
5.38 .05
Responsiveness to Diverse Pops.
5.43 -.11**
Campus Support Services
4.94 .16***
Safety and Security
4.97 .12**
Academic Advising/Counseling
5.19 .25***
Admissions and Financial Aid
5.10 .15***
Academic Services
5.42 -.17***
Registration Effectiveness
5.39 -.02
Service Excellence
5.23 .08*
Concern for the Individual
5.21 .16***
Campus Climate
5.27 .11***

*significant at .05 level; **significant at .01 level; ***significant at the .001 level

Details are discussed in 3R 3 .


8I1 Improving Current Processes for Planning Continuous Improvement

Over the past five years, STI has made significant improvements in its processes and systems for planning continuous improvement.

These improvements include:

  • Development of Strategic Goals and Plan
  • Development of Institute AQIP Action Projects
  • Administrative Planning Retreats
  • Development of the STI Council
  • Development of Program and Department Action Projects 
  • Development of an Action Project Database
  • Development of Institute Level Projects
  • Periodic Review of Institute Level Projects by the STI Council and SF School Board

Regular review of STI planning processes and systems takes place at various levels.

  • Meetings of the STI Council include updates of STI’s Institute Level Projects.
  • Throughout the year STI’s administrators monitor the progress of their department or program action projects and make adjustments as needed.
  • Annual reports on action progress are required of all STI programs.
  • During the summer, STI’s Administrative Team reviews the results of the action projects, plans and strategies and discusses performance levels. In addition, the team determines new directions and changes for the planning process.
  • Key performance indicators are updated and reviewed yearly to determine whether action projects are helping STI meet its strategic goals.

STI communicates results and improvement priorities in the following ways:

  • STI monthly staff meetings – introduction and updates on institutional projects and AQIP action projects, as well as review of key performance indicators
  • STInet site – program level key performance targets and action project database access
  • President’s Report – reports on STI’s yearly progress to all stakeholders
  • STI Teams and Committees – STI’s various committees are responsible for the completion of STI’s strategic and action projects and plans.
  • STI Council meetings – priorities and results are both communicated to the Council throughout the year

8I2 Culture and Infrastructure Role in Setting Targets and Selecting Processes for Improvement

STI’s planning process was developed by the STI Council and STI Administrative Team. STI’s flat administrative structure provides for direct contact between administration and faculty and staff. These contacts, and the fact that all STI administrators play a significant role in STI’s planning process, helps assure that the needs of all programs and departments are represented during institute planning.

The AQIP Futures Team analyzes the planning process and makes recommendations for improvement to the Administrative Team. For example, the AQIP Futures Team developed STI’s Deploying Actions Process (8P1, Chart 8.2). STI’s teams and committees provide an additional structure for continuously improving planning. AQIP teams, program teams, departments and committees continually look for ways to improve STI processes to better meet STI’s goals. STI believes that infrastructure and alignment continue to be areas for improvement.