Problem: Complex Forms and Approvals
UMass Amherst, an R1 university recognized for high research activity, uses several Kuali Research modules to manage administration processes such as proposals, awards, COI/COC disclosure, protocols, and export control. Still, there were essential processes that fell outside the scope of those solutions. The Research and Engagement (R&E) team attempted to use their preferred eSign tool to manage auxiliary processes, however the tool lacked the requisite functionality.
The most complicated form and approval process was the Award Memorandum of Understanding. This process required robust form building functionality, dynamic approval routing, status tracking, and rich integrations.
The team attempted to build the process using an eSignature tool but quickly found challenges due to the lack of advanced routing capabilities. The missing functionality led the process launch to fail, and the faculty opted to fall back on paper processing. The experience made it clear the R&E team needed a better forms and workflow solution to round out its technology portfolio.
Solution: Form & Workflow Automation
UMass Amherst utilized Kuali Build, a no-code form builder and workflow automation software, to fulfill their needs.
Kuali Build provided the functionality the R&E team was missing. The platform features an intuitive form builder with drag-and-drop capabilities. A robust workflow automation tool allows users to create workflows unique to university processes, complete with approvals, acknowledgments, integrations, and more.
Results: Integrated, Automated Processes
Administrators at UMass Amherst knew they were onto something exciting when they created a seamless Award Memorandum of Understanding form and workflow within Kuali Build.
This particular process was one of the most difficult to manage. When using an eSignature tool, faculty were required to indicate the approvers, and the approval process was dependent on dozens of variables within the form. Faculty didn’t always know who their approvers were, and sometimes the form had to be routed through 25 individuals. When you introduce additional variables such as skipping duplicate approvers, an incorrect approver added to a workflow, or unique circumstances for a single department, the workflow quickly becomes challenging to manage on paper or with an eSign tool.
Using Kuali Build’s robust workflow capabilities, the R&E team implemented a large, complex set of routing rules, including branched routing, custom email notifications, and robust integrations. Now, roles are integrated with the institution's sponsored programs software, meaning faculty members no longer indicate their approvers, and the form is routed according to the variables within the form. This integration makes the form submission process far more straightforward and negates opportunities for human error. Additionally, administrators don’t have to maintain a database of roles within Kuali Build; roles are maintained in the research administration software, which then syncs with Build.
Before officially launching this behemoth workflow, system analysts were able to test the workflow for potential issues using the workflow simulator. The simulator allowed them to flush out issues before faculty had the chance to find them.
Kuali Build’s document list was also beneficial for the institution. Form data lands in a document list where administrators can see a form’s progress within the workflow. Each form includes rich metadata that can be filtered, searched, and exported. The institution used the export feature to move data from Kuali Build into Tableau, allowing them to maintain their data analysis processes and get as much information as possible out of the data collected.
Not only did Build meet the institution’s feature needs, but Build’s team also provided expert support. Over six months, analysts from UMass Amherst met with the Build team to streamline processes, eventually progressing to use forms and workflow in ways they hadn’t imagined.
“The Kuali Build staff have really been a force in allowing us to move forms into production. Without their willingness to listen and not always make changes, but maybe steer us in another possible direction, we definitely would not be using Kuali Build as we are today.” - Paul Kelley, Director of Research Information Technology, UMass Amherst.
Kuali Build can bridge the gaps between software and paper processes in many different departments. Interested in learning more? Take a closer look at what you can build with our form builder and workflow automation software!