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Process Makes Perfect

Tom Allanson

BPM Best Practices in Higher Education: Letting the Kids Run Free

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BPM is an exceptional tool for increasing enterprise productivity, as has been firmly established. What many people don't realize is that the "business" in "business process management" can represent organizations of any kind. A customer, the University of Tennessee at Martin, recently took first prize at the Professional Development Group's First Annual Best Practices Awards - which recognizes colleges that implement the best easy-to-manage money-saving programs. Winners were announced at the National College and University Bursars Conference in late April. Naturally, I was delighted that UTM won the award for a project in which they'd used PerfectForms. Beyond that, however, I considered the recognition for UTM as validation that BPM is not a back-end solution - it is consumer-facing and can be applied in extremely creative ways.

In the case of UTM, the Business Affairs department was faced with a challenge during student orientation. Each year, as incoming freshmen and transfers flood the campus, both excited and confused as to what happens next, the first thought in their minds usually isn't "I should take care of necessary administrative tasks." In years past, the Bursar's Office had set up six manned digital camera stations during orientation. Students would be directed to the photo stations during orientation registration, and the goal was to take about 300 ID photos within a short amount of time. The pictures would then be processed and uploaded to UTM's ID card program, CBORD, and ID cards would be printed later that day. Students would then go back to the orientation registration area, line up by the photo stations and wait for their cards to be handed out. I'd imagine most of the kids would probably prefer being able to explore campus or decorate their dorm rooms instead.

UTM remedied this process-heavy situation by creating and automating a student ID request form online. Now all the students need to do is go to www.utm.edu/requestmyid at the time they apply for orientation (well before orientation begins) and upload a photo. UTM can then email students who forget to request an ID after they register, asking them to send their pictures so they can get IDs as soon as they arrive on campus. Using this simple system, with the entire process handled well before things go crazy on move-in day, students arrive on campus with their ID cards waiting for them in their orientation packets. This saves time and hassle spent on herding students at several times during the day, and saves money on photographers and photo booths. An added bonus - UTM has student assistants who supervise the card creation process, freeing regular staffers to focus on other projects.

UTM's student ID automation project is a great example of how BPM can transcend the "business" world. Now administrators can focus on getting more done with fewer resources and students can line up for something they really care about...books.

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Tom Allanson of PerfectForms shares his ideas on managing business processes, automating workflows and designing for business users - both in the cloud and on the ground.

Tom Allanson

Tom Allanson, CEO of Perfect Forms, Inc., has over 19 years of experience leading teams and growing businesses and has held key executive roles at Intuit, General Electric, and H&R Block. Most recently the President of H&R Block Digital Tax Division, he had previously been Senior Vice President at Intuit in charge of the Tax Division, including TurboTax. He started his career as a design engineer.

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