3 cases for case management: Empowering digital disruption in higher ed

As I sat in a conference room at Hyland with my fingers crossed, I excitedly waited to hear if our higher ed customers would be among the Workflow Management Coalition’s international award-winners for the case management solutions they have developed. Both customers under consideration, University of Northern Colorado for contract management and University of Notre Dame for academic advising, have readily shared their case manager success stories with the higher education community at events and via webinars.

I know how hard they worked to find a better way to serve students and staff. I know they had to make a ‘case’ that their case management solutions were the best. I know how smart they were in mapping out the myriad of data points, processes and exceptions that these solutions had to manage to bring value to the institution – and I know the difference these solutions have made across campus.

So I waited. I held my breath. And sure enough, they both won!

This is the fourth year in a row that Hyland customers have won this award, but the first time a Hyland higher ed customer has won. I also got the impression this was the first time in a long time – or maybe ever – that higher ed institutions won this award.

For higher ed, it’s about time

I could literally talk for hours about the benefits these solutions have brought to UNC and Notre Dame. But instead, #highered, let’s talk about what the committee that chose the winners stated as trends that case management solutions are supporting. I think much of what they said is vital, given what higher ed is facing today.

Here are three trends WMC is seeing with submitted solutions:

1. Organizations are seeking to cause digital disruption

This is my favorite point. Higher ed needs to embrace this concept. We hear a lot about the power of digital transformation – it’s a recurring theme. And frankly, we accomplish a lot when we actually have digital transformation on higher ed campuses. When a business process like graduation exception processing or contract management is digital from start to finish, that’s often a huge step forward – allowing institutions to capture more data and strategically leverage systems they’ve invested in.

But to survive the continuing funding cuts, academic program evolutions, flipped classroom models and the wide variety of students we are serving with a broader range of needs, we need digital disruption. Disrupt the way the process has always been – not just digitize it– and drive a new way forward with capabilities like case management. The committee even went so far to say it should cause some anxiety. That anxiety comes from having to really rethink how we are doing what we are doing.

University of Northern Colorado’s story is powerful. Obviously, contracts are vital to every organization and higher ed is no different. A contract can literally keep the lights on.

But managing contracts with consistency, transparency and ensuring that folks are not duplicating efforts are just some of the challenges that UNC overcame in its deployment of a new contract management process – one that we now showcase as a best practice to our clients across multiple industries. UNC had leadership that could envision a radically new way to manage contracts and a staff that could embrace the process.

In this case, digital disruption produced amazing results. Which is why we use it to show others what they can accomplish.

Because we cannot do business the way we have always done it. We cannot keep making minor changes and feel confident about our future. We need to create anxiety amongst staff and faculty because digital transformation is coming so fast. It’s the only way we can move ahead of the demands, control costs and protect our major investments in faculty who shape the minds of our future leaders.

2. The digital experience is affecting the insides and outsides of organizations

This is my big epiphany in coming to Hyland and focusing on business processes. We have to look holistically at the student, the student experience and student success.

We cannot just focus on a good experience externally with the student and the parent – although many of us still have much work to do in that regard. We have to focus on the best experience internally and externally.

This is at the heart of the University of Notre Dame story. They already provide an A+ student experience and have done so for years. They have been leaders in setting student retention trends. The student experience has been exceptional.

But behind the scenes, the work was still very manual. Effective, but manual. They disrupted that manual work, and with such credit to them, their staff has embraced that disruption to protect and improve the student experience with a complete view of every student.

In transforming the advising process (and so many others at Notre Dame), they looked beyond just the office that the business process originates in. They looked all around them – other offices that need to interact, externally to students, faculty, parents, coaches, advisors and supporting administration to name a few examples. It’s that holistic view that brings the greatest ROI in what they do.

While there were so many other points the awarding body touched on as they reviewed trends around case management, there is one more that is worth calling out.

3. Beware the hype

It’s important that business analysts and developers don’t drop the theme of continuous improvement in favor of just automation. This readily aligns to what I heard Hyland’s 16 higher education client presenters say repeatedly at the 2017 CommunityLIVE conference – without any coordination.

Many approach a business process with the goal to improve it by getting OnBase involved and integrated with systems of records around it. Automating a process and making it digital is a great first step. But it’s only step one.

Step two is to approach the process by immediately planning for a phase two. Once end users see what is possible, they will offer enhancements that will make a newly digitized process even better. Strategic business analysts anticipate the need for a phase two and plan to regularly revisit the improved process and tweak it when needed.

We are genuinely proud of every customer’s success. But in the case of University of Northern Colorado and University of Notre Dame’s success with case management, they are literally leading the way for higher education innovation. They deserve all this recognition and more!

Laurel Stiller

Laurel Stiller brings her passion for helping institutions strategically maximize their efficiency to Hyland as its marketing portfolio manager for Higher Education. A graduate of Miami University, Ohio, with more than 20 years of experience working to map proven solutions to higher education challenges, Laurel implemented ERP solutions at Dickinson College and University of Oregon Foundation before joining the sales and marketing team at Datatel, now Ellucian, Inc. Laurel offers a deep understanding of higher education, dedication to transparency and a fondness for candid conversations about the solutions Hyland develops and delivers to the market. You may reach her at Laurel.Stiller at onbase.com.

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