Considering the monumental shifts that K-12 schools have made in the past two years, it’s clear that something doesn’t add up when it comes to business processes.
While technology has spearheaded the way students learn, the workflows that educational professionals rely on to do their jobs are still stuck in the past — hours and financial resources lost trying to track down paper forms, weeks spent finalizing teacher contracts, delays in necessary purchase requests. The list goes on and on (and on).
Sound like your district?
Educational professionals deserve better, and when your workflows finally catch up to the advancements made in other educational departments, you’ll be shocked by the resources saved in terms of time, money, and productivity.
Workflow automation is not just a nice-to-have feature for school districts in 2022 — it’s a necessary component of education that solves these agonizing problems and sets your staff, teachers and students up for success moving forward.
What Is Workflow Automation?
Workflow automation uses software and various integrations to manage tasks that previously required manual completion. Rather than having admin professionals, secretaries, teachers, and other educational support staff manage repetitive and tedious tasks, workflow automation solutions break down tasks into a series of rules-driven steps and completes them autonomously.
Key benefits of workflow automation in K-12 environments include:
- Transparency and more visible communication
- Faster task completion, which frees up employees' schedules and reduces the risk of overwork and burnout
- Cost savings due to increased productivity and fewer data entry errors
- Accuracy, especially in highly complex tasks such as budget calculations, schedule creation, and facility management
- Agile onboarding, training, and compliance with CE and HR requirements
Life Before Workflow Automation for K-12
Before automated workflows, everything moved much more slowly. If you’re currently managing workflows manually, we’re willing to bet you experience some of these pain points on a daily basis:
- Teacher onboarding: Delays in background checks, orientation completion, and contract approval can leave vacancies even after the start of the school year and make filling suddenly vacated positions far more tedious and disruptive.
- Registration/Student Records: Without automation, there are far more delays in the student registration process, causing frustration within parents, as well as staff. The time spent manually tracking down paper and routing it to the right people at the right place, wastes time and increases the potential for a missed step and lost paperwork. And lacking integration and/or automation, parents become frustrated by having to complete redundant information across multiple areas within the school and district. In addition, transcripts, updates, and corrections are not transparent across multiple systems, making grade audits opaque and burdensome.
- Purchases: Purchase orders are created in outdated software, printed, signed manually, scanned back into another software, and routed for approval before even being emailed or faxed to the vendor.
Which Processes to Automate
If the outdated processes above bring up painful memories, we’ve got some good news — there’s a better way to do things!
Here’s how you can benefit from workflow automation to simplify those common pain points:
1. Teacher Onboarding
School districts benefit from streamlining teacher onboarding as much as possible, by automating as many of the tasks as possible, including:
· Personnel action form completion (by principals) and delivery (to HR directors)
· Electronic contract approval and signing
· Employee onboarding into one system using new employee ID and email
Not only does this lead to fewer delays, but every new hire is given the same onboarding process with the same deadlines, exact tasks, requirements, and documentation. This standardization is essential for minimizing liability and ensuring all requirements are met.
Automated teacher onboarding also moves as much of the process online as possible. In addition to making it easier for everyone to complete required tasks on their schedule, it makes the district more competitive when it comes to hiring teachers who expect as simple a process as possible.
Another key benefit of automating teacher onboarding is for non-standard hiring times. If a teacher leaves in the middle of the school year or there's a shortage of substitutes, schools benefit from being able to quickly interview, hire, and board new professionals to fill the vacancies with minimal disruption.
2. Student Records
It's not just employees that generate administrative tasks. Managing student records is a highly complex task that quickly outstrips any team's manual capabilities. Workflow automation can help simplify and standardize the process for students, their family members, and administration.
Transcripts can be stored securely. Other important documents within the cumulative folder, such as birth certificates and test scores, can be captured and digitally stored, with access to registrars, data managers and guidance staff. The workflow automation not only simplifies the storage of these documents, it allows for speedy routing to necessary parties, and helps maintain compliance with state retention schedules and federal guidelines. Additionally, the information can be integrated with other school district key software, eliminating re-keying time and errors.
Communicating with vendors and finalizing purchases doesn’t have to be so difficult. By creating purchase requests online, that request can be routed from admins to funding directors, CFOs, vendors and more, in a matter of minutes with no manual signatures or meetings required. In doing so, you can shrink the purchase lifecycle from 2 weeks to a few hours or less.
Automated Workflow and Productivity
Through automation, education administration professionals can design and develop workflows through drag-and-drop tools that are intuitive, simple to understand and modify, and ensure process knowledge is displayed in the system instead of being tied to legacy employees.
A paperless workflow engine can manage the workflow process across email, different platforms, and internal folders. Everyone across multiple departments can be notified of new tasks, manage their workload, and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
With automation, administrative professionals can leave formerly manual and tedious operations running in the background – and spend their time communicating with employees, students, or parents, optimizing funding opportunities, and developing strategic improvements. Instead of focusing on urgent one-off demands or repetitive work sequences, admins can focus on important and long-reaching projects.
Optimize Your Productivity With Workflow Automation From Softdocs
At Softdocs, we specialize in creating workflow automation solutions that match your organization's unique needs and workflows. School systems juggle multiple administrative functions for employees, students, and programs. Our platform gives users the freedom to create, modify, and build automatic processes.
Contact us today to schedule a demo or to learn more about a program.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Scott McQueen recently joined Softdocs as an Industry Solutions Director focused on the success and growth of the company within the K-12 market. Over the last nearly 30 years, Scott has focused on educating school districts on the latest trends in document management solutions.
Throughout his career, Scott has strived to solve district-wide inefficiencies within all departments, including Finance, Human Resources, Special Services, and Student Services. He has supported various K-12-based nonprofit professional organizations including the Association of School Business Officials, Personnel Administrators of NC, and the Georgia Accounting Information Network Support (GAINS).
Scott lives in Waxhaw, NC, and is married with two college-age boys. Scott enjoys traveling, golf, and tennis and is a passionate college football fan.