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How Do You Avoid Manual Data Entry? Workflow Automation

April 5, 2022

Remember the game of telephone?

What are the chances that the word or phrase that reaches the last person in the chain is the same as what the first player whispered?

While this is not a big deal when you're playing a children's game, such cumulative error is no joke when it comes to data processing.

Unfortunately, data degradation is a common issue we hear from higher ed IT leaders a lot. The gradual corruption of data can lead to errors and delays that can impact the student experience, retention, and decision-making.

Let's look at the most common cause of data degradation in higher education and how you can prevent it from happening.

The Most Common Cause of Data Degradation: Manual Data Entry

Universities process a lot of student information from many sources, often via paper or PDF forms. For example, a student fills out a paper form (hello, poor handwriting!) and submits it. 

Let’s pause for a moment: there’s no way to avoid the first set of manual data entry. You have to collect information somehow, right? The problem, then, comes with re-keying that data again, and again, and again. 

Back to the student’s form. Someone in the administrative office has to manually input the answers into the campus system. Then, when you inevitably need to transfer that information to a different department, someone else has to (squint at a spreadsheet and) manually re-enter the information into another software. There are so many opportunities for errors when you have to re-key data into various platforms!

And when we consider the amount of administrative forms that are filled across the entire institution from student-facing processes to academic research processes to HR processes…that’s a lot of data. And a lot of opportunities for data degradation.

Additionally, the lack of data governance in such manual processes affects data quality and trust in data. Data degradation may impact (or perhaps already has impacted) your ability to gain accurate insights to inform policies, improve the student experience, and make timely financial decisions. 

How To Avoid Data Degradation with Workflow Automation

To uphold data governance and maintain data quality throughout various systems in the institution, you must ensure the data is:

  • Complete: Link related data from all sources.
  • Accurate: Ensure that data is correct and consistent.
  • Available: Make data available upon demand.
  • Timely: Synch data in real-time to ensure that it stays current.

Digital forms and workflow automation technologies can help you avoid errors and delays caused by manually processing paper and PDF forms. Once the data is in the system, you can track any changes and prevent mistakes or degradation caused by re-keying the information.

Gif of person working at a desk using automated forms to avoid data degradation

Digital Forms

Create digital forms using no-code platforms such as Kuali Build and integrate them with various campus systems. Administrators can use the intuitive drag-and-drop tool to build forms in minutes without straining IT resources that are already stretched thin.

Avoiding illegible entries due to poor handwriting (or coffee stain) is just the beginning. Students, faculty, and staff members can log in and access their forms via single sign-on (SSO) for a seamless user experience. You can repopulate fields using autofill (e.g., name, major, email address) to streamline processes and prevent errors.

Our robust autofill feature also detects repeating fields throughout a form to minimize errors and confusion. For example, a researcher doesn't need to re-enter the title of their research project on multiple pages. They input the title once, and other identical fields will be populated automatically.

Automated Workflows and System Integration

Setting up digital forms is just the first step. You must also route them to the right people for review and approval and ensure that the latest information is accessible to all stakeholders.

You can achieve seamless workflows by integrating your form builder with other campus systems to eliminate errors and delays caused by re-keying data. For example, when a student changes their major, the request is automatically routed to the appropriate departments and personnel. The information is updated automatically across all platforms once it's approved. 

Gif of a workflow and people working at a desk

You don't need to worry about how current your data is. Your data repository will always have the latest information to enable real-time reporting and provide insights leaders can trust to make fast and accurate decisions.

Kuali Build's robust workflow builder, role-based approval routing, branched condition capabilities, workflow status reporting, and more can help you maximize the power of data as a strategic asset. 

Our easy-to-use integration enables end-to-end connections with any campus system to ensure that data never gets lost. You can supplement existing campus solutions (e.g., an eSign platform, an enterprise content management solution, a student information system, a case management solution, etc.) with digital forms to streamline workflows.

Learn more about Kuali Build and request a live demo to see how you can launch automated processes and minutes, not months.

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