Quality assurance in university operations
The University of Applied Sciences Ravensburg-Weingarten (UAS-RW) (Hochschule Ravensburg-Weingarten) has experienced rapid growth over the past several years. Along with this quantitative aspect, for a university to be well-equipped to face the future, it must also increasingly direct its attention to new educational strategies as well as to the quality and efficiency of existing structures. With the implementation of a new quality management (QM) system at the University of Applied Sciences Ravensburg-Weingarten, the topic of process management was also simultaneously taken up. In order to analyze, improve, and publish processes in the areas of teaching, learning, as well as in the administration, the university opted for implementation of a professional business process management system (BPMS). Within the various academic departments and administrative areas at UASRW, a standardized procedure in BIC (BPM 2.0) was utilized to model, optimize, publish, and partially automate operational processes. This automation was especially intended to allow testing of the efficiency and effectiveness of processes that had previously been carried out manually, in an effort to reduce waste and error as well as to improve quality assurance, and with it, employee motivation.
As is the case at many other universities, UASRW was confronted with a wide array of organizational and structural challenges, along with facing stiff competition from other German – as well as international – universities. The situation was exacerbated by a variety of other factors, such as challenges posed by the Bologna Process and by the limited financial resources available to meet ever-increasing demands. These factors led UASRW to seek out a way to improve the economic efficiency, professionalism, and quality of its educational and research programs, as well as within the university administration. The result was the establishment of a process management system.
From Existing Processes to Target Processes (Process Surveying and Modeling)
The first task to be carried out with the newly-introduced BIC BPM Suite was the creation of a visual representation of the university’s central processes. Many of these processes were pre-defined by the legal statutes and accreditation requirements under which universities must operate. The modeling, carried out with BIC Design, revealed UASRW’s existing processes and generated new definitions for target processes. Using a range of process modeling methods, new structures, rules, and roles were able to be determined. The university’s processes have now all been standardized according to a uniform structure, making it easier for all users to comprehend them. To support conformity to the processes and enable effective university operations, these processes have been made available to all members of the university community (approx. 3,900 people) on the process portal.
Ensuring Compliance with Process Goals
The university’s central quality management task group, whose members represent nearly every area of the university, regularly discusses and reviews university processes on the basis of their effectiveness and efficiency. The university senate, too, with the aid of BPMN 2.0, evaluates strategic processes, up to and including the modeling level. The feedback features found in BIC Portal, from concrete modeling steps to general feedback options, are used by members of university community as a form of de-centralized process monitoring. This ensures a continuous improvement process at UASRW.
Communication and Transparency: Factors for Success
An essential element to gaining acceptance was the university leadership’s clear support of the project. Communication with them was on-going, before, during, and following the implementation phase. One major goal was to provide information and training as early as possible to all those involved in the various processes and projects. This was accomplished by means of informational events for the different target groups as well as special meetings and a wide range of other communication methods. Students received information through posters, email, university news media, and on the UASRW Facebook page. With the implementation of BIC, all students and staff now have access to a transparent information portal. Along with a link to the new process portal, other information is also available over the Intranet, including university documents and written instructions – “quick start guides” – on a variety of topics, making it as easy as possible to find any information that might be needed.
Successful Results Achieved Quickly
Together with the University of Applied Sciences Ravensburg-Weingarten, GBTEC was awarded first place at the Process Solution Awards (PSA) in the BPM category of “process-oriented solutions.” This is the first time that the German Society for Organization (gfo) has recognized the exemplary implementation of a process-oriented quality management system in the higher education sector. The introduction of the BIC BPM Suite at UASRW has enabled processes to be sped up (e.g., reducing the time required to process applications), and has achieved greater transparency as well as better control over the educational process. It has also helped to ease the staff workload by reducing the number of tasks that must be performed manually. The comprehensiveness of the BIC BPM Suite has additionally resulted in a decrease in stand-alone solutions and system crashes as well as a reduction to the time required for training and in additional implementation costs. As of now, planned expansion to the quality management system includes the automated, regularly-timed monitoring of repetitive processes in order to assess them with the use of BIC Governance.
About the University of Applied Sciences Ravensburg-Weingarten
The University of Applied Sciences Ravensburg-Weingarten is a state university in Weingarten, located in Germany’s Upper Swabia region, and offers higher education in the areas of technology, economics, and the social sciences. The University has its roots in the state-run School of Mechanical Engineering in Ravensburg and is a member of the International Lake Constance University (IBH), a network of German, Swiss and Liechtenstein universities located around Lake Constance. Approximately 3,600 students are enrolled at UASRW.