The University of Queensland (UQ) wanted to improve the services and experience they offer students, staff and alumni by digitising the 400+ paper-based business processes used to undertake daily activities.
The modern student is digitally savvy and has very high expectations about the experience and personalisation their university provides. Supporting different student profiles across a variety of channels is a very complex problem for universities to solve, particularly at UQ where their technology landscape is large and complex with core systems such as Student Management, HR, Financial and Learning Management up to 15-20 years old.
UQ embarked on a Digital Transformation program with an objective to provide a world class student experience supported by internal business process automation. A key requirement for UQ was to leverage their existing legacy systems as systems of record and establish a new layer of systems of engagement.
UQ & Intelligent Pathways Partnership
Intelligent Pathways was engaged to provide strategic advice and guidance on establishing the core technology capabilities required to support digital business initiatives at UQ. The capabilities are not provided by a single technology from a single vendor, rather they are set of best of breed technologies that best suit UQ’s current needs and operating environment as well as providing the foundation for them to adopt new capabilities such as machine learning, robotic process automation and cognitive computing.
Intelligent Pathways has since provided solution architecture, vendor evaluation, technology implementation and development services in support of UQ’s digital business requirements.
UQ previously had redundant point-to-point batch style integration and modern API-based integration was identified as a key capability required to support digital business initiatives. Intelligent Pathways developed UQ’s fit for purpose API integration architecture and implementation roadmap. The roadmap was tightly aligned to UQ’s business objectives to ensure fast value realisation.
Intelligent Pathways implemented the selected technologies, Oracle Service Bus (OSB) and Axway AMPLIFY API Management in UQ’s private cloud on Amazon Web Services. We also established practices and standards for API design and development lifecycle to enable the UQ integration team to be self-sufficient; they’ve since delivered 20+ APIs over two years to support digital initiatives.
OSB, AMPLIFY and AWS were all selected due to their rich, enterprise-grade feature set and the competitive total cost ownership they offered over a five-year period.
To provide great student experience it was identified that UQ needed to digitise and automate internal processes that support the student journey. The implementation of a business process automation technology was therefore considered another core component of UQ’s Digital Business Platform.
Intelligent Pathways defined the solution architecture and conducted technology evaluation and for UQ’s business process automation requirements. Bonita BPM was selected due its ability to deliver highly tailored user experience, its lightweight and open architecture and the competitive total cost of ownership offered over a five-year period.
Intelligent Pathways implemented Bonita BPM into UQ’s private cloud (AWS), digitised initial forms and supporting workflows and upskilled UQ staff. We have subsequently designed and delivered business process automation across several portfolios in parallel.
The next phase of automation at UQ will leverage RPA, Machine Learning and AI for intelligent decision making along with Bonita BPM. We have architected the Business Process Automation capability like lego blocks to ensure UQ can take advantage of new and emerging technologies.
Intelligent Pathways is working with the team at UQ to deliver business process automation across multiple portfolios in parallel. Using an Agile delivery methodology, we have been able to digitise 40+ business processes in 12 months.
Intelligent Pathways has also guided UQ on applying DevOps principles and establishing collaboration tools (Atlassian Suite) to support continuous improvement over time through CI/CD (continuous integration, continuous development).
The Research portfolio has a new Higher Degree Research Candidature Management Solution (CMS) that has enabled the digitisation of 30+ processes. The CMS has interactive electronic forms and self-service features that students access through a highly personalised user interface that is web and mobile responsive. The CMS is integrated with UQ’s core HDR management system (Oracle PeopleSoft Campus Solution) and Bonita BPM.
Prior to the CMS, over 15,000 paper-based forms relating to the higher degree research (HDR) candidature life-cycle were manually processed each year costing an estimated 18,000 staff hours. The Research faculty is reporting a 94% improvement in average turn-around time for HDR requests and an estimated saving of 12,000 staff hours per year – or 67% increase in efficiency – equivalent to approximately 7 FTE in workload. This has enabled a redistribution of workloads and more proactive support for HDR students with earlier intervention and support.
The Academic portfolio’s Student Administration unit is leveraging the digital business platform to enable student requests to be submitted online, previously they were submitted via paper, email or manual hand over at the Student Services Centre. The requests are then processed online by UQ staff and/or via automated workflow that typically involve multiple reviews and approval points by faculties and school staff.
Bonita BPM has been integrated with UQ’s core student system and document / records management system to facilitate the automated workflow.
The HR portfolio has leveraged the digital business platform to automate high volume processes including fixed term renewals and request for flexible work arrangement using the change of hour or days process.
The Finance portfolio has leveraged the digital business platform to automate high volume processes including financial systems access, project financial change request and contracts and grants revenue split.
Business Process Automation has dramatically improved user experience for students, staff and alumni at UQ. Students can submit and track requests in real time from their web or mobile device and the time taken for staff to process requests has been greatly reduced. UQ is also benefiting from cost efficiencies due to improved data accuracy and timeliness, a reduction in integration development effort and paper minimisation.
UQ also expect to see further efficiencies and improvements over time from exposing APIs that give student, faculties and third parties access to data they can use for their specific needs.