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Higher Ed Needs an Agile Approach to Workflow Automation

By BP Logix on Sep 16, 2020 1:59:35 PM

Higher education institutions adhere to a disciplined cadence of organizational milestones in order to operate effectively. To manage workflows and processes, ensure that documentation is delivered and acted upon correctly, and enforce accountability across all stakeholders is a job that’s highly dependent on the orchestration of workflows across the many teams in a university organization.

Forward-thinking colleges and universities are using workflow automation to support business processes for every aspect of the educational lifecycle, including student management, hiring, facilities, vendor management, capital expenditures, compliance and governance, and a host of other issues that demand continuous oversight and action.

True workflow automation is most successful when IT teams adopt an agile approach that allows them to create a rules-based environment that facilitates repeatable actions and shares data among different applications and repositories. Being freed from the responsibility of manual intervention allows IT teams to identify new and better ways to deploy data to support new processes. And in a time where so much is new, being able to develop and implement solutions to new issues can deliver meaningful value.

Process Director is used by a variety of colleges to support their digital transformation initiatives. With digital process automation capabilities, it enables schools to integrate data among processes across a wide array of services and departments. Different schools look for various ways to achieve this, and the use cases of BP Logix customers illustrate how BPM can be a critical aspect of higher education transformation and organizational growth.

 Rapid application development and forms automation

All schools in the United States had to move quickly to transition students from on-campus classes to 100% remote learning in the spring of 2020. All of this had to happen in a matter of weeks, and it involved a long list of details, dependencies, and processes to coordinate across the student experience.

 At the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), there was a desire to provide students with a way to change their grade type for the Spring semester. This would encourage students to choose a “Pass/Fail” option rather than drop a letter grade while they adapted to a new style of learning.

 The UPenn IT team sought to enable this option for students quickly and easily. Using Process Director, they created a digital form driven by an automated process that gave students a fast, efficient way to request the new grading option and have it approved. With the workflow, requests were automatically routed to the appropriate school registrar for processing. Students were notified when the school acted on the change request, and the school registrar gets a PDF copy of the whole transaction.

 The key for UPenn was speed and accessibility to data. Process Directors’ forms-building capability and rapid application development approach allowed them to build this in a short time period.

 Automation and governance for student records

UCF Global is part of the University of Central Florida system that serves a global population of more than 64,000 students every year through 93 bachelors, 86 masters, and 27 doctoral courses of study.

 A key challenge for the university is managing private student data that is distributed across many different repositories and applications. Because that personal data is protected by governmental compliance standards, it’s critical that the school safeguard how it’s accessed and used. With student records management as a primary driver, the UCF Global IT team sought a way to be efficient and secure with data, but to also make it usable so they could deliver rapid solutions for their students. By adopting Process Director, they have been able to take advantage of a diverse set of functionality that is supporting their needs. This includes:

  • Comprehensive and automatic logging, with digital signatures, of every action taken by any actor, human or automated.
  • The highest levels of encryption of data at rest and data in transit.
  • Digital signature of documents.
  • Granular permissions structure, with temporary privilege escalation.

By ensuring a safe environment for transactions and storage of student data, UCF has been able to build processes that automate the flow of student information through all processes in the student lifecycle, from admissions to graduation.

 Digital reviews and approvals

One of BP Logix’ higher education customers, the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), used Earth Day as the impetus for adopting a BPM approach. With a mandate to reduce paper usage, the UTEP IT team embarked on a plan to eliminate paper where possible by relying instead on the digitization of forms through scanning and digital storage. It quickly became clear that efforts to improve reviews and approvals through digital means could lead to other efficiencies through BPM.

 With the rollout of this new digital emphasis, the UTEP IT organization began to implement Process Director BPM across more parts of the University. They focused their efforts on 1) the easy movement of documents across campus via electronic workflows, 2) enabling the review and approval of electronic documents via email, 3) the ability to have dashboards that allowed users to edit, view, and receive messages regarding activities and tasks as well as to retrieve reports, forms, and notifications, 4) Having electronic records signed via a digitized image of a signature and 5) ability to populate a series of form fields by extracting information from a database instead of requiring users to input that data.

 With broad usage of Process Director’s capabilities, UTEP has instilled an agile, prowess-driven mindset in how IT delivers solutions to various departments. Speed has been a critical driver, but so too is how comprehensive Process Director is at ensuring that necessary participants are included in reviews and other transactions throughout the various university lifecycles.

BP Logix

Written by BP Logix