How can a higher education institution improve admissions, financial aid, registration, and student financial services? When one questions how we perform our work, the answer is typically “that is the way we have always done it.” Unfortunately, many of these cherished work processes are based on archaic manual systems or on non-integrated legacy student information systems. When we do attempt to improve, or “automate,” our work, we often follow the same legacy work processes. focusEDU’s process analysis and reengineering consultants can help improve or redesign work processes to achieve significant productivity and efficiency gains.
Function vs. Process
Work activities are typically organized around functional units. An institution is thus viewed as a series of specialized vertical organizational structures, each responsible and optimized for a defined set of functions. All work is based upon these sets of vertical compartments. For example, in higher education, distinct functional units are responsible for the functions of recruitment, admissions, financial aid, registration, billing, etc.
A process is a series of steps designed to produce a product or service. More precisely, a process is a logical and finite set of observable interrelated work activities utilizing input, that when performed in a pre-defined series, produces output. Processes have internal and external customers and are independent of an organization’s functional boundaries.
Although it is possible that all steps in a process may be contained within one functional area (e.g., billing), most processes are cross-functional, spanning the white spaces between the boxes on an organization chart.
These white spaces, where hand-offs occur between functional units, are typically the places process delays and disconnects (things that go wrong in a process step) occur, even though each individual functional unit may be performing efficiently and effectively.
A cross-functional process view of work, as opposed to a functional view of work, can uncover these disconnects and enable their correction. For example, when attempting to improve the registration process, one should not merely examine the functional activity of enrollment in classes, but should analyze the entire end-to-end process of registration, including course selection, schedule building, enrollment, application of financial aid, tuition assessment, billing, etc.
Process Mapping is an important analytical tool for determining how a process works, from start to finish, focusing on the flow of work and people through departmental work areas and the value each successive step in the process adds to the final product or service. The focusEDU approach to process mapping builds the process mapping team, creates consensus on the existing process terms and activities, identifies process disconnects, and evolves an environment that facilitates creative solutions to address the disconnects and improve or re-create the process.
For more information, see the article Process Mapping: A Strategic Approach.
Business Process Review and Redesign Consultants
This powerful process mapping technique can be applied for process improvement to obtain measurable productivity and efficiency gains, or for more ambitious business process reengineering projects .
focusEDU’s experienced cadre of functional and technical process analysis and reengineering consultants will facilitate the discovery and analysis of your existing work processes, providing an effective tool in improving or reinventing your processes.