Universities and other Higher Education institutions are turning to new frameworks for developing intelligent, agile student-facing applications. While COTS (Commercial-off-the-shelf) systems may have their allure, BPM (Business Process Management) suites hold greater promise for better engagement with students, and more agility to adapt to changing conditions.
Your university has charged you, the IT department, with upgrading your legacy enrolment system. The existing system is expensive to maintain, changes meaning digging deep into code, and the system is not able to integrate with other school systems such as ERP, CRM and SharePoint. Finally, the old system is just not connecting with students, and you are feeling the results in enrolment numbers and in support staff headaches.
Enter BPM. BPM (Business Process Management) is a framework now being used across most industries for the optimal creation and management of mission critical process applications, for businesses and public organizations worldwide. Now, universities and colleges are looking to BPM to replace their legacy student-facing systems. Why?
At the core of BPM is a workflow or process. Watch this 3 minute video which describes what a workflow is:
The importance of basing your system around processes, ones which can be easily set up on a visual canvas, is critical. That’s because the relationship between a student and your institution, from application, to enrolment, to course completion and finally a degree, is, in essence, a set of processes in time. Being able to map out these processes in a visual manner, is the first step toward ensuring that the student’s journey is a successful one.
A process, once implemented in BPM software, will ensure that required steps are completed on time and by the correct party. A process keeps its parts moving forward. A process can also include tasks and notifications for its participants, for example – the student, the departments, the registrar’s office and more.
The second element of a BPM solution is a user interface. BPM suites enable the quick assembly of configurable end user interfaces and portals which give users (university employees, students) the ability to participate more actively in the process, while exposing contextual information and guidance needed for them to complete their tasks and actions. These could include course calendars, pre-requisites, reviews, and connections to an appropriate enrolment advisor or peer assistant.
In a human-centric BPM suite, human actions take the form of Request Forms, Tasks, Alerts and Notifications. These steps keep the process moving smoothly toward a successful conclusion.
Another important element of BPM is in better work allocation and management. Your recruitment and admissions teams can easily see what work tasks they have on their plate, so that each member can efficiently manage his group of applicants. You can connect accepted students to enrolment advisors, and facilitate Q&A, guidance and mentoring all within the same application. Work can be allocated according to appropriate expertise and availability.
Department managers can access a bird’s eye view of the system. They can track the workload of department members and staff, and they can easily drill down to the details of there is a problem. A BPM suite enables the creation of rich visual dashboards which give the university an indication of how it is performing, show trends, and provide on-demand gauges that display enrolment statistics in real time.
Perhaps the greatest strength of a BPM suite is its flexibility. As opposed to a COTS application where changes are often nearly impossible, a BPM puts change at the forefront. .NET developers and technically-oriented “business users” can quickly modify the application without derailing the production environment. End users can suggest and implement dynamic actions and make ad hoc decisions to handle unforeseen events. Leading analyst firm Gartner advises that organizations should consider BPM (compared to COTS) for its unique ability to adjust to change.
When you consider how much your system needs to change each year to adapt to changes in staff, courses, departments, resources, and a changing student body, you will realize how important a change-oriented system is. Being able to adapt easily, will help your institute quickly respond to academic industry changes and compete for the best candidates. See our page on HotChange® technology for more information on change-oriented BPM.
Finally, a BPM suite can quickly integrate with the world around it. This includes connecting to your other IT systems (ERP, SharePoint, CRM, and external web sites) to view and interact with data. BPM includes social features which help users and student share information with each other. It even provides the ability to connect your application with smart devices and IoT (Internet of Things). You could create an application that, for example, knows when students have arrived in the parking lot, and send them an SMS showing how to reach their campus tour.
It’s these touches and features that will help you re-connect with your student population, and help them collaborate with you, on what’s most important – their future.
Watch this video on the potential of a full-fledged BPM suite:
Want to find out more? PNMsoft is hosting the webinar Improve Your Students’ Experience with BPM on June 16 with a special guest speaker from Microsoft! REGISTER HERE.
Cora SeQuence is a leading BPM suite is based on Microsoft technology. SeQuence integrates with SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, SQL Server, and Azure. PNMsoft is a Microsoft Gold Partner and is on Gartner’s iBPMS Magic Quadrant. We work with institutions of higher education to develop intelligent process-centric applications and look forward to helping your institution transform its operations.