Workflow automation solutions are extremely valuable when it comes to document processing--a major component of how schools operate

Higher education is leaning in on automation


Workflow automation solutions are extremely valuable when it comes to document processing--a major component of how schools operate

Over the last year and half, the world has undergone rigorous transformation to make technological advances due to issues stemming from COVID-19, and higher ed has been no exception. In the past, higher education has been slower to adopt new methods and solutions, but the education sector was forced to quickly adapt to these rapid changes to continue daily tasks and activities and avoid a complete standstill. Digital transformation continues to be at the forefront for colleges and universities, and ongoing advances in technology like automation are helping move the education sector to a more digital format.

Tech’s ongoing role in education

Because schools and universities have traditionally been slow tech adopters, they are now faced with new issues that have a direct–and negative–impact on education. Legacy systems are outdated, plagued by inefficient workflows, causing delays and setbacks.

Unable to compete with newer technology, these outdated systems now have higher education facilities facing compliance issues regarding the storage and verification of sensitive documents such as student records, health information, and other private information–putting data at risk. All of these issues compounded have created a rapid uptick in the adoption of workflow automation for colleges and universities.

Workflow automation solutions are extremely valuable when it comes to document processing–a major component of how schools operate. Specifically in the higher education realm, juggling applications, admissions, financial documents, adjunct contracts, and more can be a time-consuming, manual, and inefficient process.

By adding workflow automation into the tech stack, documents can be automatically filed to the correct location, distributed to the proper departments with a request for action and executed in a compliant manner–at double and triple the volume. Not only does this ensure administrators remain organized, but it also frees up time for employees to focus on other, more important and creative tasks.

Automation in action

Claremont Graduate University (CGU) is a great example of this positive change in action. As a private university with about 1,200 students enrolled, the university faced recurring issues with its analog contracting processes, which particularly impacted adjunct faculty employment. Use of paper-based contracts often resulted in errors, misplaced signatures, delays, and extra time and costs for administrative staff to deal with these issues. Physical storage space was also becoming an issue due to the need to have paper documents stored and done so in an organized manner.

To remedy these problems, CGU turned its attention to improving its workflow automation solutions. Following an integration project, the university has built workflows across multiple departments, including the registrar’s office, provost office, HR, and others. A main use case was building a specific workflow for requesting access for applications and documents. Previously requiring an administrator to physically find a stored document, the process turned into a simple digital request that generates a ticket for each document. This created a faster workflow and gave the ability to track when documents were accessed to improve compliance. 

Furthermore, CGU was able to make improvements to its processes to request campus visits. Previously a manual operation, CGU is now able to handle over 500 visit requests from students, faculty, and staff weekly, via an auto populating form that makes filing a request faster and more intuitive. As a result of integrating automation technology, the university has been able to go completely paperless, freeing up physical space and allowing staff to minimize their environmental impact.

It’s become clear that automation is creating measurable, positive change in any sector it touches, and education has been able to reap the benefits. By implementing these types of solutions, schools and universities can make faster workflows and enhance the student experience in return. As the world continues to become more digital, it will be interesting to witness how educators continue using automation to improve these processes and to amplify specific classroom experiences.

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