The Great Resignation and the Great Reshuffle put many universities' IT departments in a tough spot. IT overload is exacerbated by the difficulties in attracting and retaining engineers as the industry struggles to compete with the private sector for talents.
How can universities overcome their resource challenges and ensure proper IT functions across the institution? How can IT leaders leverage their existing technical organization to address the accelerated rate of digitalization in higher education?
Most universities are highly distributed, and departments make their own decisions. Rapid digital transformation, accelerated by the pandemic, translates into increased IT support needs. The increased workload, coupled with difficulties in hiring and retaining engineers, puts a lot of strain on IT teams. This creates a vicious cycle that causes more staff to leave their jobs.
When departments can't get their requests fulfilled because IT is backed up, they take matters into their own hands — leading to "shadow IT," which is the use of systems, devices, and apps without the knowledge or approval of the IT department.
Shadow IT can create many issues, such as security problems, data governance challenges, and conflicts with existing applications. These siloed solutions are hard to integrate with the central infrastructure and often make collaboration across departments impossible.
Not to mention, these "special" or "one-time" solutions aren't sustainable from the perspectives of development, integration, and maintenance. In fact, they'd further increase the IT burden, drive up engineering costs, and impact staff retention.
How can you meet the growing IT demand in a distributed organization without hiring more IT staff?
To retain your IT staff, you must manage workload and maximize the ability to utilize the scarce and skilled resources so they can deliver the most value to the university system. This means eliminating the need to involve central IT in every app development and approval process.
A no-code forms and workflows automation platform, such as Kuali Build, can help empower citizen developers to create applications they need in a couple of hours without sacrificing the ease of integration, maintenance, and governance.
While enabling departments to deploy applications without putting central IT on the critical path, a no-code platform allows IT to integrate the apps back into the core IT management infrastructure. As such, the workflows and data can be shared across the institution.
Central IT services can also use the tool to respond to requests quickly, so they can have more time for high-value tasks. They can do more with less without feeling overwhelmed or experiencing burnout.
Additionally, the streamlined app building and approval process mean progress isn't held up because an email got stuck in the inbox of some C-level decision-maker. Departments can get the tools they need to do their work faster, eliminating the risks of shadow IT.
The University of Hawaii has used Kuali Build to empower citizen developers and relieve IT workload while improving their processes to save time and money. It takes just a couple of hours to build an app, compared with the typical two-week turnaround time of the traditional workflow.
Like most higher education institutions, the university used paper or PDF forms in approval processes. The workflows were cumbersome, and emails piled up quickly. But it stuck with the manual procedures because central IT could at least wrap their hands around all the pieces within the distributed IT infrastructure to ensure governance and operational consistency.
But the speed of digitalization was putting too much pressure on IT. The university implemented Kuali Build and created apps to facilitate IT requests submissions. The IT team can keep track of all the tickets and route them to the right person for review and approval. Administrators can then process the requests with just a couple of clicks.
Since the institution integrated the automation platform with its identity management system, administrators can use the single sign-on function to verify their identities when approving requests to preserve governance without holding up workflows.
The university handles requests from 10 campuses and 10,000 employees every day. The automation platform helps save its IT administrators substantial time and effort. Not to mention, they can respond in minutes without having to sort through hundreds of emails to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
The time saved from the initial development of an app is just the beginning. Universities must also address the ease of maintenance and the ability to make modifications after an app is published. Kuali Build allows users to make changes on the fly while preserving the requests that are already in flight.
The maintenance is also much less complicated because there are no "special codes" to figure out. The shared platform and language mean anyone with some basic skills can build, maintain, and modify an app, which is the key to encouraging field adoption across the organization.
Since IT doesn't have to shoulder all the work associated with app maintenance and handoff, the university can scale up its app deployment velocity without adding personnel. The long-term savings on time and money is where institutions can get their big wins.
User experience (UX) is critical for organization-wide technology adoption. While Kuali provides the initial training to help the staff get up to speed, the UX was key to encouraging adoption in the long run.
The university currently has over 500 app builders signed up for the program. Around 200 of them are actively developing and deploying apps within the Build environment to automate and streamline workflows in various departments.
The intuitive and easy-to-use UX means that people can figure out the platform with minimal help. Meanwhile, the fully-automated workflows ensure that no step is missed in complex processes.
A no-code platform that empowers citizen developers to automate workflows is the key to improving processes, reducing the high cost of web application development, lowering IT workload, and retaining your best engineering talents.
Kuali Build is designed specifically for higher education institutions to help them manage a distributed IT environment cost-effectively without foregoing visibility and governance. Learn more and try Kuali Build for free for 30 days.