Case Study

Case Study: Tufts University

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Tufts' digital transformation with Kuali Build: From paper to streamlined online forms & workflow automation for efficiency
“Kuali Build is a ubiquitous system for everyone who has a need to gather data and report on it. All you need is a login and—voila.” Erol Irez, Senior Application Architect, Tufts University

About Tufts University

Tufts University, founded in 1852, is a private research institution located in Boston, MA. Known for its rich tradition of excellence in liberal arts and sciences, Tufts supports approximately 13,000 students and 1,500 faculty members.  

Problem: Inefficient Paper-Based Processes

In 2020, Erol Irez, Senior Application Architect at Tufts University, was directed by his CIO to find a form tool with workflow functionality. Prior to Covid-19, many of Tufts’ administrative processes were paper-based. The pandemic led Tufts to PDF forms, but administrative processes remained the same.

To support digital transformation efforts, staff tried to provide digital process options in ERP solutions such as Peoplesoft. However, Tufts, like most universities, needed the flexibility and agility to create custom forms without a dedicated developer, which an ERP cannot offer. Since IT couldn’t deliver the tailored forms that staff needed, shadow systems became pervasive. 

Irez and his team set out to find a form tool with built-in workflows per the CIO’s request. Any new tool added to Tufts’ repertoire needed to provide more flexibility, offer API integrations, and be so easy to use that non-technical staff could use it.

Solution: Process Automation Platform

Irez discovered Kuali Build, a no-code forms and workflow process automation platform. Kuali Build provides the flexibility institutions need by enabling users to create custom forms and dynamic workflows. Build’s API integrations facilitate structured, typo-free form data that staff can sort, filter, and report on. And, it’s all delivered via an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface.

A Digital Transformation of Administrative Processes

Tufts has launched about 70 applications, with 60 more in development. Build provides flexibility, clarifies process communication, and improves data integrity, which in turn allow staff to spend less time focused on processes and more time on the critical work of academic instruction and research.

“Very quickly, [Kuali Build] has become part of our standardized processes for our entire faculty and staff.” Rob Tedesco, Associate Director for Academic Affairs, Tufts University

Increased Flexibility

Before Kuali Build, most requests for new processes went unanswered. Staff needed hundreds of unique, one-off processes, and IT did not have the capacity to create or support that many custom applications. 

Kuali Build provides a safe, secure, IT-approved platform for staff to create their own form and approval processes, and it’s flexible enough to use for everything from an employee parking form to cross-department research administration forms. By delivering the flexibility staff need, Build improves the student and faculty experience while also decreasing the IT backlog, technical debt, and the risk of shadow systems.   

Some of Tufts’ most beneficial applications include:

  • Student Employee Time Entry
  • HR Exempt/Non-Exempt Form
  • Campus Events Process
  • Acquiring Travel/Procurement Cards
  • Employee Vacation Form
  • Computer Request Form

Streamlined Communication 

A common thread across all 70+ of Tufts’ Build applications is an improvement in process communication. Many of these processes involved clunky, inefficient back-and-forth emailing, phone calls, or even meetings. For example, IT received a high volume of “bogus” support tickets; there were duplicates, requests were difficult to parse, and sorting or reporting on incoming tickets was nearly impossible. 

Now, staff use Build to submit a support ticket. API integrations enable auto-filling for fields like name, employee ID number, and department, which reduces typos and mislabeling departments. Required fields and conditional logic within the form help IT get the information they need. All the data submitted is structured—IT can finally sort, filter, and report on the tickets.

Because of streamlined processes and structured data, IT can respond to staff faster and more efficiently.  

Improved Data Integrity

Sometimes, users feel like they need a “PhD in form-filling,” according to Irez. It’s difficult to get everything right, down to naming a department correctly. With Kuali Build, integrations allow staff to find the exact title of a person, department, or office via a search-as-you-type experience, much like Google. Additionally, API integrations can be used to autofill numbers, such as a supervisor’s employee ID number. With integrations in place, Tufts’ data integrity skyrocketed.

“We went with Kuali Build because it had that integration feature that beat everybody else.” Erol Irez, Senior Application Architect, Tufts University

Easy to Use 

“It’s really easy to get going with it. Even with the workflows, everything is drag and drop. It’s pretty intuitive.” Sandra Abramson, Sr. Business Analyst, Tufts University

Before Kuali Build, only a few individuals at Tufts were dedicated to building and supporting custom forms and workflows, which created a major bottleneck. With Kuali Build, new users are fully trained and ready to build after two, short training sessions with Tufts’ power users. Today, in a matter of hours, users can create and launch automated processes that never would’ve made it to the top of IT’s priority list.

The nice thing about Kuali is that you really don’t need a programming background to use. I find it easier to use than Qualtrics.” Rob Tedesco, Associate Director for Academic Affairs, Tufts University

Moving Forward

As Kuali Build continues to roll out across the institution, Irez and his team look forward to implementing digital forms and workflows for student-facing processes to improve the student experience and continue the institution’s digital transformation.

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Case Study: Tufts University

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