Today’s students are not having the same experience that we did when we packed our bags and set off to university. Today, they are connecting via video conference and turning in assignments digitally. Award ceremonies and performance art begin with IT professionals setting up a live stream. Educators stay in touch via email, text message and social media. Application processing and fees are all handled electronically.
Our higher ed institutions are being forced to undergo digital transformation in the same way as all other industries right now. Service desks, administration and IT professionals in the education sector use service management principles to best support today’s students.
Applications, orientation, graduation . . . students have a lot of questions.
The business of learning can be confusing, particularly for university students who are taking their first independent adult steps. So, students (and parents) often have a lot of questions! From “How do I pay my fees?” to “How do I get a new access card for my dorm?”, many queries come up repeatedly.
Not only do they get solutions faster, but this helps to reduce the number of requests that administrators and IT teams are required to handle.
Guide these students by encouraging the use of self-help tools . A robust, easy-to-access knowledge base will allow them to find the information that they need on their own. Not only do they get solutions faster, but this helps to reduce the number of requests that administrators and IT teams are required to handle.
Inter-departmental communication offers holistic support to students.
Even with self-help tools, there will still be times when students need to reach out and actively open a request with one department or another. Perhaps a billing issue is preventing registration, or they are over-challenged by their course work and require personal assistance. In any such case, coordination among departments is key to making sure that the students remain healthy and on-task while they learn.
In the past, schools relied on traditional email systems to gather incoming student requests. This got easily overwhelming. One department would realize that a student needed help, but it may not have been seamlessly communicated to another, causing answers to be delayed or students to receive multiple conflicting responses. No one had a complete overview of what the student was going through and what support he or she might need.
Today, institutions are taking a more coordinated help desk approach to providing support for students. As requests come in (sometimes still through email, but also by phone or text or even social media), a case is created to track all of the communication and tasks surrounding the student’s request. This means that multiple departments can seamlessly receive all of the information that they need to fulfill the request at the same time.
Multiple departments can seamlessly receive all of the information that they need to fulfill the request at the same time.
For instance, a student advisor who is contacted because of an academic problem can ask IT to get the student access to a learning platform, while at the same time, set up tutoring. All of the individual activities are tied to a single request. Additionally, it means that everyone who has access to do so can view the student’s historical requests too, so they can more easily intervene if problems are recurring or escalating.
Automated workflows in higher education keep campus safe, secure and connected.
Of course, knowledge and request management are only part of the puzzle when it comes to supporting students and university operations. Many of other activities are happening behind the scenes: From testing door alarms and servicing heating units, to integrating new digital platforms and providing network solutions, to proactively contacting alumni for donations and processing applications, thousands of workflows happen without students even realizing it; but these are still critical to ensuring a high quality learning environment.
That is why business process automation is becoming as important in education as in any other industry. According to the US National Center for Education Statistics, public two year universities use as much as 36 percent of their budget on academic, student and institutional support services, such as food service or residence halls. For a public four year university, this is 21 percent. In all types of private universities, these numbers are much higher. With the cost of higher education these days, universities are looking for efficiencies and cost-cutting measures wherever possible: So, these high dollar categories are often a target.
The use of BPM concepts aids in saving money while maintaining the human touch of an educational institution. By examining repeatable workflows, cutting out wasteful steps and automating related administrative tasks in a service management solution, fewer mistakes are made, less re-work happens and staff are able to better focus on being involved with students than on administrative efforts.
The business of higher education is a multi-faceted one, balancing the needs of many stakeholders – students, administrators, professors, staff, parents, funding agencies, etc. But as the push towards digital transformation in education continues, the principles of service management can help improve the student experience and ease administrative overhead making for a more spirited and successful higher education experience.