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Workflow Automation & VET

May 13, 2019

What is Workflow Automation?

Organising repetitive tasks and otherwise time-consuming, manual activities into a streamlined process with minimal human assistance is the basis of automation. It is all about working smarter and not harder. With automation, day-to-day activities are completed on time and without human error. Rather than staff from different departments logging into multiple platforms to get a task done, a single automated workflow system will perform each item of work, as many times as required.

When work flows in an automated system, you can concentrate on getting more done and focus on the things that matter - providing quality training and ensuring compliance with the regulatory authority! Workflow automation allows training organisations to spend less time on the processes that support work and more time on the work that adds value to customers.

The Survey

aXcelerate recently conducted a client survey to gauge the extent of workflow automation within the aXcelerate community which represents approximately 15% of the VET industry. The intention was to give RTOs a chance to discuss how workflow automation is used in their business and the challenges and opportunities that automated systems present.  

The survey revealed a strong uptake of workflow automation to streamline student management processes. While there are challenges involved in implementing an automated system, respondents reported high levels of satisfaction towards automation across a wide range of tasks. Looking ahead, there is strong enthusiasm to train users in workflow automation to reap the full rewards of an integrated workflow management system.

In this report, you’ll find an overview of responses on the following topics:

  • To what extent are RTOs using workflow automation?
  • What are the most common tasks that VET managers rely on automated workflows?
  • What are the challenges of implementing an automated system?
  • What do VET managers want from workflow automation in the future?

Insights

Among the education administrators and managers we surveyed, almost 90% reported being happy with workflow automation in their business (58% satisfied, 21% very satisfied and 7% completely satisfied).

Workflow Automation Satisfaction

More than half of the respondents rated themselves as “newbies” (51.2%) who are just starting out and can see the potential benefits of an automated system, while a third reported feeling “confident” about their use of workflow automation features. 14% said they had hadn’t used workflow automation at all.

Workflow Automation Usage Results


The most common tasks automated by VET managers are:

  • Communication with students and trainers: 50% use automation to perform day-to-day communication tasks like bookings and enrolment confirmations, welcome emails, reminders (email & SMS), cancellation notifications and event notices.
  • Generating reports: 30% use automation to generate financial reports, unit reports, AVETMISS reports and student invoices.
  • Others: 20% use automated processes to manage student data, issue certificates and conducting learner engagement and course completion surveys.
How do you use workflow?


Workflow automation opportunities

Next, we asked VET managers what they wanted to automate in their business that is currently very time consuming. The top responses were:

  • Reminders and other communication with students
  • Student invoicing and finance
  • Enrollment and attendance records
  • Marketing communications (i.e response to online inquiries, notice of upcoming courses)

In order to improve administrative efficiency, student engagement and CRM, the managers in our study reported several challenges that RTOs will need to address in order to reap the full potential of workflow automation tools. Here are the top 3 challenges:

3 Biggest Roadblocks to Workflow Automation

  1. Not aware: the first difficulty with workflow automations is in knowing where to begin. Many staff are not aware which tasks can be automated to benefit from the full functionality of workflows.
  1. Setting up: the second common difficulty is creating workflows. For new users, building a workflow can seem complex which can lead to resistance and deferment.
  1. Customisation: setting up single-step or simple multi-step workflows is one thing, but expanding customised conditions, adding more triggers and deeper integrations requires additional competency. Regular users may find they often ask “can a workflow be created here to save time?” but are unsure how to create more complex structures.

Key take-aways

Despite the numerous workflow automation tools available today, many RTOs face difficulties with implementation and customisation due to lack of awareness of workflow automation potential and different levels of user competency. These challenges can result in lost automation opportunities as staff continue to perform manual tasks rather than focusing on higher value initiatives.

Success will depend on selecting a system that enables users to build dynamic, integrated and scalable workflows with responsive customer support and ongoing training. A good student management system will provide help guides, webinars, client forums and individual support to help you build and test specialised workflows tailored to your business.

Conclusion

It’s no wonder that vocational education and training organisations are increasingly turning to workflow automation to streamline routine work conducted across departments. Automation removes human error and provides immediate time savings, more control over business processes, greater efficiency and more responsive student engagement. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of VET managers surveyed are happy and optimistic about the benefits and potentials of workflow automation.

But not just any solution will work. To be effective, workflow automation must be easy to use, customisable and backed up by responsive customer support and training. With the increasing availability of workflow management solutions, there’s simply no reason for RTOs to continue spending valuable hours on repetitive tasks. As we head further into 2019, it’s time to get started automating to save more time and money.

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