Institutions have a variety of processes in place to support students as they navigate their journey towards completion. Whether it’s reviewing and making exceptions to student plans, clearing students for graduation, or helping students change their major, the majority of these processes have one thing in common: they require multiple steps, forms, and people to be cleared for approval and can often lead to poor student and staff experiences. To help institutions go digital and simplify these processes, we’ve released an automated solution designed for higher ed called Workflows.
What Are Workflows?
Workflows are automated, customizable processes that can be applied to anything that requires approval from multiple parties. Common applications include degree clearance, multi-step exception petitions, degree declaration, requests for plan reviews, and graduate milestones. These workflow types are permission-driven, established by the institution, and editable by the creator. They can either be step-dependent (meaning a workflow needs to be approved by a specific person before it moves onto the next), or they can be sent to all parties that need to approve the request at once.
The Goal of Workflows
Many institutions are recognizing the need to shift to paperless processes in order to better keep track of student needs. Multi-step approvals can be time-consuming and cumbersome, so providing a centralized point of record for different requests and approvals can speed up a variety of processes and improve communication between departments. Below are a few ways in which workflows are helping our partners drive success:
- Increased efficiency with paperless, digitized process for faster approvals
- Shared, real-time visibility of student-centered tasks and approvals
- Better student and staff experiences
How Workflows Help Students
There are a range of hurdles students can face when it comes to maintaining academic progress. If a student realizes they need to change majors or substitute one course with another, they can feel overwhelmed by the notion of going through multiple people or sending out multiple emails in order to remain on track. Equipping students with technology to communicate with staff and advisors in one place can help alleviate any uncertainty.
A popular example of workflow requests initiated by a student are exceptions. These refer to any academic anomaly (such as waiving a requirement or substituting a course) where a student needs a staff member to review and approve their plan. Students can also make a request for an administrator to review their plan or clear them for graduation directly from their profile. This process empowers students to take ownership of their success plan and stay connected with those they need support from.
How Workflows Help Advisors
Advisors play a critical role in maintaining communication with students and ensuring their tasks are completed in a timely manner. Through workflows, advisors have a clear view of any and all pending requests that they’ve been listed as a reviewer for and can reach out to students and staff in the same system where necessary. They can also quickly handle requests and make approvals more efficiently with a few simple clicks, allowing them to increase their service to students and focus on more purposeful aspects of student support.
How Workflows Help Registrars
One of the most relevant use cases of workflows for registrars is degree clearance. With multiple parties involved, it’s important to keep everyone informed through one system. Registrars can create a workflow based on different student populations (demographics, program, academic performance, etc.). For example, they can create a workflow to review academic plans that only applies to students who are expected to graduate in Spring 2022, or Master’s students with a certain entry year. From there, registrars can decide who needs to be involved in the review process, whether an order of approval needs to be enforced, and if the workflow should apply to the entire institution or only to a specific program/department. Since the platform is compatible with existing systems, a key component of degree clearance workflows is its ability to upload an automatic screenshot of a student’s current degree audit. This allows all relevant parties to quickly view a student’s academic progress and take action.
Workflows have the ability to bring automated processes to a variety of departments and stakeholders within the university. Digitization like this is key to institutions looking to keep pace with rising expectations of on-demand services and support.