Case study – Australian National University
Seamless integration of digitalised processes and an ERMS
The Australian National University created a flagship digital process to act as the keystone for creating digitalised eForm solutions that fully integrate with the university's core enterprise systems, including the electronic records management system. These quick and easy to complete eForms (for example travel approval, HR workflows) enable accurate and secure storage of approvals and attachments on a corresponding staff or student file without manual intervention. This has created efficiencies by eliminating effort around record storage, and speeding up record retrieval.
ANU is a world-leading university in Australia’s capital city, Canberra. Our location points to our unique history, ties to the Australian Government and special standing as a resource for the Australian people.
In mid-2014 two ANU Alumni who are the founders of Intelledox – an innovative software development tool that specialises in business process digitalisation – donated their software to the ANU to assist with the University’s agenda in streamlining and automating their processes.
The University looked to create a flagship digital process to act as the keystone for broader organisational change and further opportunities for digitalised solutions. The Travel Approval process was identified as the most bureaucratic, convoluted, multi paper, multi approval process to benefit from the creation of an efficient and integrated system. The cost of paper based travel administration was more than $2.2M per annum.
Academic staff and students travel domestically and internationally and to destinations considered high risk. Previously, the paper based process required up to ten paper based forms to be completed (depending on the level of risk). Processing one travel approval could take up to one week and involve six people. Signatures for approvals would need to be sought from individuals across a vast area (spread across multiple campuses).
There were also key information management deficiencies using the manual process in duplicate information needing to be completed across multiple forms, difficulties in maintaining data integrity and quality due to time intensive manual data entry and the manual storage and retention on staff/student files needing to be printed and stored by disparate areas across the University.
Processing 16,000 travel approvals per year, the potential for improving end user experience, data integrity and quality, reduction of duplicate activity, manual data entry and the consistent and accurate storage and retention of travel documents was enormous. The University also had no method of understanding or deriving analytical information on travel behaviour, travel spend or derive an accurate picture of approval and processing times and bottlenecks.
The primary objectives of the automated solution using the Intelledox capability were to provide a solution that improved the end to end customer experience, providing validations using business rules aligned to University policy and procedure, and implementing data integrations that would allow for the removal of manual data entry and a more consistent, streamlined and automated storage and retention mechanism.
Phase 1 of the project saw the implementation of the Travel Approval process as one standardised process across the University. This included the development of pull and push data integrations to the core HR and Finance Enterprise systems, LDAP authentication service, DFAT Smart Traveller website and the University’s enterprise data warehouse.
Phase 2 of the project saw the direct integration between the Travel Approval solution and the Electronic Records Management System to automatically and seamlessly store all travel approval documentation and associated attachments onto a corresponding staff or student file.
The Travel Approval process was launched in November 2014 and accepted as the one standardised process across the University.
Solution highlights include:
- Integration to the staff and student directory;
- Multi-user approval process;
- Integration to DFAT for travel warnings and risk information to influence the workflow;
- Dynamic content depending on destination and risk factors;
- A wholistic and University wide view of analytical data (through management and operational reporting); and
- Integration to the Finance system for automated per-diems and budget code validations.
To support the safety and risk processes and planning for those undertaking travel, the automated process combined comprehensive risk assessments, field safety, travel budget approvals, etc. through a rigorous set of approvals corresponding with the ANU delegations framework.
In phase 2, the integration between the Travel Approval eForm and the Electronic Records Management System has seen the seamless integration between the two systems, including the storage and retention of over 17,000 travel forms and associated documents being stored and retained on corresponding staff and student files. This solution has provided the University with the ability to readily access and view travel records which are periodically required for legal cases. In situations where travellers have been in locations where there have been acts of terrorism and natural disasters, this integration has been invaluable in allowing the University to readily access information to contact affected staff and students.
More than 17,000 electronic files have now been created through Travel Approval and other eForms processes including a number of HR processes, such as Professional Development Reviews for staff.
Some of the immediate business benefits that have been realised include:
- Faster travel approval process turnaround times;
- An improved customer experience through the automated and streamlined process;
- The ability to approve whilst travelling away from the University, including on mobile devices;
- Reduced errors through validations and data integrations;
- Greatly improved data quality and integrity through the automated push integrations through the system to update corresponding systems, reducing the chance of manual error;
- The ability to draw upon analytical data to assist the University making strategic decisions through the integration between the Data Warehouse and eForms; and
- Consistent and automated storage and retention of travel documents, professional development reviews and other eForms and associated attachments that can be readily accessed as required. The incorporation of the documentation into the ERMS requires no action by user or approver. This automated storage of records will increase rapidly in 2016 with the automation and implementation of various student administration processes.