Like many educational institutions in Australia, MLC manually handled students’ enrolment submissions. FiveP uses SharePoint, Nintex Workflow and Forms to demonstrate the value of a uniform Enterprise Content Management platform.
Like many educational institutions in Australia, MLC manually handled students’ enrolment submissions. Applicants filled out paper based forms and sent these, and other supporting documents, to the head of admissions by mail, hand or fax. From here the application would be processed through a manually intensive business process.
This procedure happened to cause immense stress and jeopardised MLC’s ability to continue to provide an efficient and welcoming enrolment experience to prospective students. Although the system worked initially, there were significant challenges and it was clearly becoming unsustainable. Issues resolved when MLC engaged with the FiveP’s team of experts who implemented SharePoint, Nintex Workflow and Nintex Forms solutions.
Amongst the challenges experienced were:
- It was often difficult for staff to locate records as a main folder would physically move between workflow participants
- Sharing of information between cross functional teams during the application process was difficult and inconsistently managed
- Difficulty in tracking the current progress of any or all applications
- Time consuming to follow-up with all participants in the process
- There was a need for a centralised area to make notes and document decisions
Furthermore, MLC realised their current process was not fulfilling MLC’s strategic objectives in being an innovative leader in the education sector.
Implementing an online form capable of supporting the complex family arrangements often seen in today’s society was not going to be easy. Given the ‘mums and dads’ target audience, the form needed to be intuitive and easy to use yet capable of managing the most complex of family structures. The business process, triggered by the application was also very complex. MLC’s ethos of handing every application as its own ‘unique case’ meant there was no room for automatic processing of an application. The system would need to support the personalised service MLC was renowned for, not replace it.
Though not exhaustive, the following list highlights some of the form and process complexities which needed to be considered:
- Multiple student applications on the same form
- Multi-parent families (greater than 2)
- Previous relationships with the school
- Court orders, birth certificates, visas and other supporting documentation
- Previous school results
- Application to either MLC and/or MLC
- Applications submitted by agencies on behalf of international students
- Language and special needs considerations
- Multiple case managers assigned to review and process the application
- Managing requests for additional information from parents
- Interview scheduling
- Clearly the requirements and detail of the form and process would be difficult to completely capture and document upfront.
To minimise risk, MLC elected to first conduct a Proof of Concept (PoC) to ‘road test’ a technology stack which might be suitable to its needs.
The POC demonstrated a simplified version of the form and process providing MLC with confidence that these tools were in fact capable of delivering the functionality required. The project continued.
As it happens, the PoC actually served two purposes. Not only was the technology stack confirmed but it also provided enough insight into the complexity of the process to highlight the need for an Agile project management methodology to be applied.
Based on a series of two-week iterations, the agile approach helped to focus the attention of the development team on what was known and what was required for each iteration in turn. Essentially moving to a ‘just in time’ design and planning approach rather than ‘just in case’.
As the evolving requirements of the form and business process were revealed they were incorporated into the solution. With each release building on the functionality of the previous one and helping to shape the features included in the next release.
The Nintex Workflow and Nintex Forms solution provided the ability to collect an extraordinarily large range of information which could then be considered by the case managers prior to being successfully transmitted into MLC’s backend student management systems.
Ultimately the final solution met and indeed exceeded expectations, while still being delivered in one third the time experienced by other schools building similar online enrolment processing applications.
The workflow that was implemented supported the team in their activities, empowering them to participate, track and monitor each application as it was processed. Dashboards of the entire process now provide valuable insights into the number of applicants per year and per year level, their current status through the process and who is the currently assigned case manager for each application. Visibility that was previously impractical to maintain and share consistently.
The resulting solution provided a controlled integration between the submitted online form and MLC’s student record management system (TASS). It also provided the foundation for enhanced document management capabilities, within the college, and a framework for further business processes to be automated in the future.
Like most non-trivial projects this successful experience highlighted the need for teamwork. FiveP knows that as a service provider you need to have a cohesive and strong team which works well together to deliver an outcome for the client. Other key roles of the project included the need for a product owner and/or sponsor who are engaged throughout the project and have the authority and the will to make decisions all the way through.
This project broke new ground for MLC. It provides an excellent platform for MLC to build on in so many areas of the business.
The Online Enrolment System (OES) has changed the way MLC’s employees work. Since going live on Monday 13 July 2015, employees are working in a more efficient and collaborative way. What used to take hours to action now only takes minutes. Furthermore, the system has reduced paper previously required during the enrolment process. The partnership between MLC and FiveP was essential to the project’s success.
“With FiveP’s assistance, MLC was able to demonstrate that SharePoint, Nintex Forms and Nintex Workflows were viable technology platforms to support the college business processes. FiveP’s client-centered approach, along with their professionalism and focused customer service, made the process and project an effortless endeavour.”
Director of Technology and Library Services – Methodist Ladies’ College
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