From education to employment

Automated workflows and the drive for productivity within further education

Nick Parkes, Regional Sales Manager at Y Soft

The UK’s well known struggling productivity level is an issue that dominates discussions amongst the government, further education, and public sector organisations.

With no clear cut solution being discussed, the issue shows no sign of being eradicated any time soon, and with the UK still dealing with the impact of the financial crisis and Brexit looming over the country, the situation may worsen.

The education sector can no longer wait around for the government to provide a solution, and therefore must take matters into its own hands, rather than wait for more favourable economic conditions to take hold.

The education sector, and further education more specifically, must incorporate the appropriate technology to increase productivity.

Whilst there are a myriad of ways in which technology can make a difference, automated workflow software is one solution that can have a dramatic effect on employee efficiency and productivity.

Despite its potential, a recent freedom of information (FOI) request conducted by Y Soft has revealed that local authorities still have some way to go before they can reap the full benefits of this particular technology, and see a much-needed boost to output as a result.

Stunted productivity growth

Poor productivity growth has been attributed to the unfortunate current economic circumstances, however, the UK continues to lag behind its contemporaries in western Europe and the USA. In fact, the Office for Budget Responsibility has recently had to lower its growth forecast for UK workers, such is the severity of the problem.

If our main trading partners are outdoing us on the productivity front in the face of similar economic challenges, there is clearly more that local authorities need to be doing themselves. This is where automated workflow software can make a difference.

Implementation of the appropriate technology

According to the FOI request, which surveyed 72 public sector bodies in London and throughout the rest of England, 85 per cent have no specific future plans to implement automated scan workflow solutions as part of a bid to make general IT and administrative processes more efficient.

At the same time, only 36 per cent of respondents polled plan to increase their IT spending over the course of the next year, which indicates a general lack of impetus in the bid to raise productivity.

Despite these figures, there are some areas where scan workflow tools are being used by the public sector to automate processes. The FOI request found that 71 per cent of councils currently use workflow tools to digitise scanned documents in some capacity.

While this may seem to bode well for automated workflow software on the surface, these tools aren’t being deployed across all aspects of the public sector, including further education.

With this in mind, it is clear that organisations are not securing the maximum productivity gains from the technology.

Automated workflows to alleviate the burden

In order to reap the full rewards of automated workflow software, it is vital that people become more aware of the numerous advantages they can bring.

A good place to start is by examining why organisations choose to embrace technologies such as automated scanning and data capture.

According to a recent report from AIIM (the Association of Information and Image Management), the three biggest drivers for the adoption of these solutions are improved searchability and shareability of business documents, improved process productivity and reduced physical storage space.

For further education, this is vital as documents are widely used and shared.

Automated scan workflow software can cut through the complexity of document management, by enabling staff within further education to create workflows for individuals or groups of people.

Each workflow can be created for a process – such as coursework or scanned pages from a book – where the scan parameters and delivery destination are different.

Crucially, adding automated scan workflow software is highly cost-effective, as it can be added as a module to existing general print management software that is likely already in use. The resulting solution is tightly integrated, making it flexible, adaptable, easy to manage and easy to use.

Solving the productivity crisis

Raising public sector productivity is not something that can be achieved overnight, and there is no silver bullet for the problem.

However, a comprehensive, unified approach to increasing output, which embraces innovative technologies as a matter of course, can go some way towards turning things around.

Automated scan workflow software should be an essential cog in this technology machine, due to its ability to strip out inefficiencies in common administrative tasks.

For the public sector and specifically educational institutions, limited time and budgets mean that driving efficiency is especially crucial.

It is time that institutions stepped up their efforts to make this happen, by leveraging the power of automation and all of the benefits it offers.

Nick Parkes, Regional Sales Manager at Y Soft

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