Batch processing automation brings efficiencies to campuses

Batch processing automation brings efficiencies to campuses

Back in the good ole’ days of onboarding students, campus departments relied on interoffice mail and email to share data about student progress through their degree. Students visited multiple departments and waited until manual processing was complete to get answers about everything from their admission status, to financial aid to whether they passed all of their graduation requirements.

Automation changed all that with batch processing work flows that sped up processing times and enabled departments to collaborate more effectively, like the batch process that concatenates test scores and validates existing students in Campus Solutions at the CU Denver Admissions office. Learn how UIS’s Production Service team supports campus efficiencies through batch processing automation.

What is batch processing?

It’s the automated processing of a group of records, as opposed to manually processing transactions individually, which used to take campus staff upwards of a full day. Where university staff once set aside multiple days a week to process files, processing can now be accomplished daily and overnight with minimal intervention, giving near-real-time feedback to students. Employee payroll, recruitment information, student information – all of this critical data and more is now processed via automated batch processing by UIS, saving significant time and money for staff to focus on their customers.

What's it look like in real life?

One of the most exciting examples of how batch processing has significantly impacted efficiencies is with CU Boulder’s use of automated student checklists from recruitment through graduation (refer to Image 1). Students are able to follow their progress no later than the next morning in most cases. Additionally, departments collaborate on student processes, bringing further efficiencies for administrative staff and making the pre-admission and student portals more of a one-stop-shop for students as they work through their checklist To Do items.

Here is how some of CU Boulder’s departments have benefited from automated batch processing.

Admissions One of the first stops on the student lifecycle is admissions processing. Theresa Jordan, IT Professional in the CU Boulder Admissions office, finds that having batch processing in place speeds up access to the admissions decision for students. The department can automatically assign the appropriate checklists to students to get them started on their application requirements more quickly. Batch processes automatically upload test scores (e.g., ACT, SAT, etc.) and updates the system to fulfil this requirement. Application fee payments, freshman essays and other requirements are processed nightly to update checklist statuses. Decision-makers receive updates four-times a week, allowing them to make determinations faster.

Before batch processing and online self-service, students called in to find out if their admissions documents were received and the overall process could take weeks. “Not great customer service,” says Elizabeth McVeigh, Director of Operations and System Integration. Even with the pre-admissions portal in place, staff still manually updated the checklist with high school transcripts received and other materials. With the integration to Singularity (soon to be OnBase), transcript receipts are updated nightly. Now, human intervention is for quality control purposes, validating that admissions materials are correct before the admissions packet is moved to accepted status. “Admissions Advisors receive the same number of calls,” says McVeigh. “The change is in the nature of the calls. Advisors can now advise students on the strength of their application and help them improve their chances of admission, rather than focusing on whether documents have been received. This translates to our improved ability to bring students onto campus and more satisfied employees.”
Bursar The Bursar’s office handles student tuition and fees billing. In the past, to generate accurate billing files, multiple processes were run in order and with proper dependencies. It previously took the Manager of Student Financial Services, Nok Sitchawat, an entire day to complete the whole billing process flow. Now, the processes run in the proper work flow order as scheduled. Staff can focus on students and on improving business processes to better serve their needs. Per Nancy Mars, Student Financial Services Business System Analyst, the automation batch processing enables the business office to run a series of processes outside business hours to update large volumes of student financial data in a timely manner and accurately, without impacting student system performance..
Financial Aid The Financial Aid team has 700-800 jobs running each week, which is double the number from when Campus Solutions was first implemented in 2011. Vic Goldberg, Associate Director, Financial Aid, says that as more processes are automated, the team is able to find more ways to build efficiencies through additional automation. For example, scholarship processing used to be extremely time-consuming as each scholarship needed to be manually researched and awarded. Now, the system automatically identifies student eligibility for high-level merit scholarships from Admissions records and awards those scholarships automatically – no human intervention required! This saves 2-3 hours a day just in scholarship processing.

Per Brian Carroll, Assistant Director of Processing, batch processing automation also speeds up the process for students. In the past, award letters would be processed every 2-3 days – now they are processed nightly.
Registrar When a student matriculates, the Registrar’s office assigns 4-5 checklists so students know what to do before start of semester, like activating their email, applying for housing and completing online orientation. These checklists are automatically assigned Wednesdays and Saturdays and as the students complete each task, the item is updated either hourly or nightly. In the past, the checklists were manually handed out at new student orientation or sent via email. Additionally, students had to physically go to different departments to complete their tasks and get answers to their questions.

Sarah Layton, Assistant Registrar, CU-SIS Development states that having the batch processing system in place not only improved the student experience, but also aided the Registrar by showing the level of commitment of students to matriculate in the fall term. Toni Murphy, Registration Process Coordinator, states that the team is also able to better serve the 33,000 CU Boulder students with more frequent processing. Grades now post every three hours and class wait lists run each hour. The team could never have managed this with manual processing.

Through partnership with UIS’s Production Services team, these CU Boulder departments and others across the campuses have increased efficiency and saved time and money by automating their business processing. The service itself is also efficient and reliable. Having the Production Services team working 24/5 shifts means that if an issue is identified, help is always there to assist with troubleshooting, so campus departments can trust that even though they are not hands on, their processes are running smoothly.

Learn more about UIS’s Production Services team and batch processing in this brief 5-minute video.

I want to know more!

Are you a CU department interested in learning about how you can automate your processes? Contact the Production Services team at ps.cc@cu.edu.

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