The business procedures in place in education are similar to any other type of organization. There are forms, processes, workflows, and data that people work with every day. Just like businesses in any other industry, those in higher education stand to benefit a great deal from streamlining and automating the different business processes and workflows for their institutions. When you think about all of the different aspects of running an institution of higher education, the need for a workflow automation solution becomes rather apparent. Higher education deals with students, true, but there are also processes built around areas such as:
In each of these areas, the right business process solution can help build rules and workflows to make things more efficient and reduce human error.
In many institutions of higher learning, silos are built up around the different departments. As a result, institutions often find themselves implementing multiple different solutions that handle the same task. These solutions, often designed for a single use case, are unable to work with the applications implemented by different departments. Here you have the same data replicated across your institution, but it is not shared.
Incorrect Data with Multiple Means of Entry
This alone presents a number of issues. The first is that when there is no single source of truth, data is not kept up to date. If admissions updates a student’s record but student health, housing, or even academic advising is unaware of the change, it creates inefficiencies for the school and problems for the student. Now add the cost of storing the same data in multiple, disparate solutions. These are two major areas of concern that have serious negative impacts.
No-Code Workflows Streamlining Business Processes
Another common pain point that higher education finds when it comes to the solutions they keep in their silos is the need for IT resources. There is a need to involve the IT team every time a change is made to a workflow or process. It may require customized programming, front-end design, or even a change to a back-end system. Of course, the IT department needs to prioritize these requests, so the needs of certain departments may fall off their radar. Not only that, but often, the IT team is asked to work on projects when they have little understanding of the processes and workflows involved. This lack of knowledge and experience may cause issues when designing a system to support an area where they are not experts.
A 2004-2008 report conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that over a four-year period, the university’s administrative expenses grew faster than academic expenses. To bring its focus back to academic needs, the university looked to business process improvement. The right business process automation solution has the potential to help institutions of higher learning reduce their administrative costs and the ramifications of human error.
When the right solution is put in place, reliance on APIs allows the business process application to work with many different applications already in place. This helps break down the silos that have naturally built up over the years around the different departmental needs in your school. By sharing information, workflows, and processes as a result of a back-end solution that handles workflows and rules, the various departments can continue to utilize the interfaces they are accustomed to. The data, however, is shared along with the workflows. This allows one department to move information across the entire organization regardless of the software used.
Using rules and validation helps reduce the errors and bottlenecks that occur when information is collected and shared. Having the ability to validate information collected through forms reduces the need to follow up and correct errors. Automating the process flow reduces the chance that important information will be sent to the wrong place or forgotten. Should a process stall, there are ways to investigate what is the root cause of the issue.
Finally, implementing the right business process automation solution not only allows you to implement more self-service opportunities in your organization but also allows for self-service among the different departments. A solution that provides a no-code interface that allows you to build forms, apply rules, and create workflows without needing to write code reduces your reliance on IT to handle changes for you. The need to wait for your projects to move up the priority list is eliminated, and IT is freed up to handle projects that help move academics forward.
Although education is not often treated like a business, there are definitely plenty of business processes that need to happen for a school to run. Like any other industry, the more effectively and efficiently these processes run, the better it is for the staff and the customer—or, in this case, the students. For more information on how institutions of higher learning benefit from business process automation software, check out this webinar on Applications for Higher Education.
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