Our higher education institutions have a lot on their figurative plates.
In a market that was already competitive, a global pandemic is offering no favors. A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article paints the picture:
- 231 class action lawsuits filed to receive tuition or fee refunds
- 303% increase in student requests for assistance from Lehman College’s food bank
- 312 layoffs at the University of Texas at San Antonio
- 4.7% drop in the number of the lowest-income students who renewed their Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
The situation can look a bit grim, but it doesn’t mean hope is lost.
In this time where students expect more from institutions and institutions expect more from their faculty and staff, efficiency is king. Now is the time to optimize.
Institutions are taking a closer look at low- and no-code forms and workflow software to streamline processes.
- Low- and no-code platforms support staff, faculty, and campus-wide administrators in their automation efforts.
- Gartner predicts by 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65 percent of application development activity.
Low- and no-code platforms can provide the agility that institutions need to satisfy stakeholders and exceed student expectations. Get even more agility with forms and workflow platforms built on a no-code solution. Now we’re talking.
Benefits of Forms and Workflow Software
The benefits of implementing low-code automation platforms can’t be ignored:
1. More efficiency and productivity: Workflow automation technology gives users the tools and ability to get more done in less time. With no manual data entry and minimized human error, efficiency across departments and the institution as a whole increases.
The University of Hawaii system uses Kuali Build to cut down on time to approval. VP of IT and CIO Garret Yoshimi saves time by making approvals through Kuali Build. In the application, he can see urgent requests and provide approvals without sorting through hundreds of emails.
“We’ve created turnarounds that rarely exceed 24 hours and in many cases are under two hours because it’s a really quick click for me to review and approve.” - Garret Yoshimi, VP of IT and CIO, University of Hawaii
2. Enhanced Transparency: Workflow automation software offers informative reporting capabilities and increased visibility into the workflow steps, giving institutions insight into process status and the knowledge to optimize processes.
3. Increased Agility: Institutions will be better equipped to respond to market demands and changes, such as quickly moving to remote learning and working.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst used forms and workflow solution Kuali Build to safely reopen the institution’s research centers. Administrators built custom forms in Kuali Build, distributed those to anyone coming to campus, then exported the data to their preferred data analytics tool, Tableau. This allowed decision makers to see campus activity levels and make better informed decisions.
4. Better Data Security: Workflow automation technology offers much more security than traditional paper and PDF processes. With controlled access and data encryption, private information is kept safe.
5. High Return on Investment: Technology takes care of the busy work plaguing departments. Without the need to manually file and process forms, departments can get their time and resources back, allowing them to focus on advancing the mission of their institution.
With the right technology and the right use case, you can see impressive ROI from a no-code forms and workflow software.
Southern Connecticut State University uses forms and workflow tool Kuali Build to automate research administration processes. This tool allows administrators to spend their time more efficiently. According to Amy Taylor, MBA, CRA, Director, Sponsored Programs and Research at Southern Connecticut State University, “The software paid for itself with just one form!”
Taylor estimates the institution saves over $650,000 yearly in time saved after implementing the automation software.
“The software paid for itself with just one form!” - Amy Taylor, MBA, CRA, Director, SP and Research, Southern Connecticut State University
Making the Pitch
Think smart as you create your pitch. It may be helpful to get a refresher on standard business practices of asking your supervisor for something. Here are a few quick tips.
- Do your homework. If you’re asking for forms and workflow software, make sure you understand your current budget, the benefits of the software, and potential software solutions to go with.
Some types of purchases in higher education require an RFP. There are a variety of limitations, and one of them is price; typically, purchases over $20,000 require an RFP. Before you meet with upper management, find out what types of purchases merit and RFP.
- Speak their language. Your supervisor will likely want the numbers. Be prepared to discuss ways this software could add or detract from key resources like time and money. Will another employee need to maintain or manage the software? What’s the return on investment?
While you likely can’t provide exact ROI, frame your research like this to help you find a range of ROI.
- How many staff members does it take to do X process?
- How much are those staff members paid?
- How long does it take them to complete the process?
- How often do issues arise and how long does it take to fix issues when they happen?
- Provide context. If you ask for an extra $10,000 to your budget, the answer will be no. However, present the factors like time lost carting papers around campus, complaints filed from students about processes taking too long, or administrators spending the majority of their time on tasks that can be automated, you can create a much more persuasive argument.
With this information and just a bit more research, you’ll be ready to make your pitch. Before you know it, you’ll be deciding which forms and workflow software is right for your institution. Check out Higher Education's Guide to eForms and Workflow Automation today.