How to Quickly and Safely Digitize Higher Ed Workflow
Higher education institutions are built on workflows. The larger the college or university is, the more processes must be implemented for it to run smoothly. The problem, though, is running these workflows efficiently.
Anything that’s not automated (paper forms, spreadsheets, emails, telephone calls) can cause significant delays in vital things such as student scheduling, enrollment, faculty requests, and financial aid. Many postsecondary schools can find themselves so caught up in trying to keep up with the workflow that they have no time to advance themselves. This is a problem.
Thus, many colleges and universities have had workflow digitization on the radar for a while. However, other things, such as data consolidation and student access have taken priority. Now that Covid-19 has forced universities and colleges to shift to distance learning for the foreseeable future and thus re-evaluate their operational objectives, it seems that they have begun to identify workflow tools as necessary to improve current operations and bring about future gains.
When Setting the Stage for a Higher Ed Workflow
A significant amount of the work to adding a new workflow comes before actually adding the workflow itself. Merely adding new solutions to an existing network will not necessarily streamline the current process and improve performance the way that it’s intended to. This is particularly true for automated workflows.
There are security concerns that must be addressed with automated workflows. The individuals in the steps and the approval steps have to be clearly defined so that only those who have the need and the authority are included in the workflow, according to the University of Nevada, Reno’s CIO and vice provost for IT, Steve Smith.
Be sure that multifactor authentication is always intact. Also, be sure that the staff stays up to date on their training on current security expectations.
What Digital Workflows Are There?
A few well-known digital workflows are: Workday HCM (to manage the day); DocuSign (to manage e-signatures); Hyland OnBase (for electronic content); Formstack (for quick online form creation); Adobe Sign (to manage e-signatures); and, Artificial intelligence solutions (allows “immutable data records”).
Things to Consider
The more digitization tools you have, the more security risks you accrue. This is where “artificial intelligence solutions” comes in.
Other Factors to Consider
When you evaluate a system for use as a digital higher education workflow, remember to evaluate it for those other things essential to higher education. For instance, are the transaction times reduced? Is the user experience smoother? Does it have enhanced record-keeping? Does it simplify the process for students? Perhaps it digitizes textbooks and library resources, making them available to multiple students simultaneously. Does it allow staff and faculty to complete their work without going through paper-to-digital-to-paper transactions? Does it allow higher education institutions to achieve their goals more effectively? Perhaps it helps schools use digital marketing and social media to recruit more students.
There are so many things to consider, and user experience, security, and efficiency are key. If staff is spending less time on the tedious stuff that can be completed by the digitized workflow and more time on creating lessons that will engage their students, they will be more successful professors.