Spring is in the air, and for students, that means that freedom is close at hand. Although their plans may include summer jobs, internships and vacations, college administrators are using this time to re-tool and plan for the coming academic year.
Establishing and maintaining processes for the diverse activities that occur in a college environment is critical to helping students become successful, as they prepare to navigate school and life.
Colleges and universities live by a rigorous calendar that includes many repeatable activities. Having a business process foundation underlying these actions enables the institution to run smoothly, servicing the needs of students, professors, vendors and other stakeholders. From enrollment to course selection, student services to employee management, the entire college experience (at least, for those responsible for operations and management) requires participation, collaboration, and effective management of records and processes.
Let us consider the situation that most institutions of higher learning are in: they are not-for-profit (money is tight), their deadlines are driven by a strict calendar (one that cannot be changed if something goes wrong), they serve a diverse population (students with different needs, from different backgrounds, all with different expectations), and are beholden to a noble, but somewhat vague, goal (create a more educated citizenry). Imagine creating a business plan that has this kind of backdrop. Venture capitalists would run in the opposite direction.
While this scenario might look unwieldy and insurmountable to some, for smart colleges — those that have deliver a great education while existing on a solid foundation of organizational best practices — operating with efficiency and generating solid results means the same thing as it does for a Fortune 500 company. As with any well-managed and forward-thinking organization, for colleges, BPM and workflow are critical tools.
BP Logix has worked with a number of colleges universities and technical colleges, gaining insight into their needs and expectations. Davis Applied Technology College (DATC) in Utah has a goal to continuously innovate and improve, whether delivering programs to students or services to support staff. Recognizing that it had cabinets filled with paper forms —and processes that would benefit from automation— the IT team reviewed its requirements, scope and criteria, then issued an RFP for a solution to automate its processes and more effectively manage its forms and data. Determined not to build the solution in-house and with the support of the President’s Council, DATC selected Process Director.
DATC then rolled out the product to a number of departments. In student services alone there are already 17 completed processes with five in the queue. In Finance there are seven processes. In HR and IT the progress is equally impressive. The Director of IT paid us a compliment when he said, “Knowing where our business processes and workflow are without having to chase them down is invaluable. What used to take days is taking hours — what used to take weeks is taking days.”
Columbus Technical College is one of 28 colleges in the Technical College System of Georgia, and its focus is on providing education for the 21st Century workplace in areas like healthcare, business, applied sciences and general studies. Columbus serves about 4,000 students per quarter and operates on an $18 million budget. CTC’s innovative IT department identified BPM and workflow as essential elements in solving a long-standing issue: management of the vast amount of information required for approvals and decision-making for all types of issues.
The IT group recognized a need to eliminate manual routing of data and documents and replace it with an automated system. They evaluated a number of solutions and decided on using Process Director. As a result, they have been able to streamline the flow of business on campus—and provide enormous benefits in terms of information access, efficiency and cost savings.
The lesson for today, students, is that irrespective of what the organization does, it has goals, and operating with greater efficiency while reducing complexity is among them. BPM and workflow are proven solutions that enable institutions to ‘do’ business more effectively and remain focused on their greater purpose, no matter what that purpose is.