school bus driving
PHOTO: Jose Alonso

Many school districts face chronically slow backend processes.

From mountainous stacks of student applications to endless sheets tracking inventory, paper-based processes hold up school staff and take them away from their core responsibilities. And when administrative staff is drawn away from important work, the negative effect filters down to the student experience.

Automation tech has the potential to absorb the time-consuming tasks that slow administrative staff down. With limited budgets, decision-makers in education have to make tough decisions, often landing digital transformation on the bottom of the priority list. As a result, educational institutions are generally slower to adopt transformation initiatives. But when they do, the results can be meaningful and lasting.

The Effects of Automated Processes in Schools

From enrollment to parent communications, many schools rely too heavily on paper-based methods. When you consider that 76.4 million students in the US enrolled in school in 2017, it’s clear how much time inefficient processes can waste.

Whether a school system administers 100 students or 100,000 students, there are better ways to manage paper-based processes such as annual enrollment, applications for niche programs and parent permission forms for extracurriculars and field trips. These workflows often yield hundreds of paper forms that come across administrators’ desks each year. 

Traditionally, roles like enrollment coordinators, academic directors and even vice principals — positions that often wear many other hats on a school’s administrative team — manually handle the entire process for any given form.

It's easy to fall behind on form-based work. But turning to automated processes allows administrators to focus on better serving current students. Where a school system may have received over 1,000 miscellaneous requests from parents via email each month, staff can handle them through a well-designed, form-based automated process instead. Their saved time can then go toward mission-critical work rather than basic administrative tasks.

So how can education leaders start on their digital transformation journeys?

  • Open your mind to improvement — By pointing out inefficient processes to stakeholders and staff, you force them to see how the team could be better. From there, the best way to get all parties on board within a school’s administration is to help them understand what other schools are doing to eliminate their pain points. Once you’ve obtained buy-in to solve team inefficiencies, sell the leaders on a low-code tool that can benefit anyone from non-coders to professional developers.
  • Empower your current staff with tech — You can’t solve other teams’ pain points until you know what they are. By providing employees the opportunity to point out their broken processes and map out ideal new ones, you empower them to find lasting solutions. Giving employees agency in the transformation process will also encourage broader adoption of the tools you eventually deploy.
  • Standardize the new processes — Standardize your automated processes by providing school and district-wide trainings. To ensure new employees learn and carry forward the processes, build the teachings into their onboarding. By creating a center of excellence — or a central digital storage location for all processes — you can prevent against new processes from becoming sidelined.

Digital transformation applies to the education world too, and the processes that make up the student experience are ripe for automation. While school administrators may not be in the classroom with students each day, they can create a system that allows them to better serve students by trusting in automation and digital transformation.

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