When I started my career in 2000 for a small but successful suburban legal practice, there were three non-networked computers, a typewriter, and a file safe. Work would be passed between computers on 3 1/4 inch floppy disks, and I learned to touch type because two-fingered typing on a typewriter is painful.

In 2017 every task in my first job would have a new process. ICT, Information systems and mobile first development have radically changed our workplaces, and now successful process design has a significant impact on your organisational outcomes. Unlike staff members, an automated process doesn’t have the judgment or discretion, so the design and setup are crucial.

Changes in the VET Sector are frequent and can be sweeping, and there are frequent changes to the regulations, legislation, funding programs, or even the challenges presented by changing student needs. A toolkit for change management is essential, and the with right tools, the change may become an opportunity to outshine your competitors.

Get your new processes right and you can significantly reduce your admin burden. Get it wrong, and it can be catastrophic.

To help you navigate the often confusing landscape, we’ve discussed some tools to help you analyse and adapt to changing requirements below.

Process Review

A process review will generally occur after or during

  • New software or hardware implementation
  • Significant changes to functional areas, departments or divisions in the organisation
  • Changes to legislative or regulatory requirements
  • New funding programs or new contracts
  • Reduction in organisational resources, such as loss or significant alterations of a funding source or contract

Reviews don’t need to be formal or documented, just a comparison of changes to your existing process to make sure everything is covered. Minor changes need small modifications, but significant changes would call for a re-engineering of the process.

Re-engineering Step 1: Business Rules

Your review looked at the change in needs, requirements or obligations. The results of this review will form the basis of your Business Rules.

A process review looks big pictures and broad strokes, your Business Rules breaks this down to the nuts and bolts, or parameters, of your internal process. Mainly, it’s the who, how, what, where, why and when of a process. Your Business Rules will often branch or fork, and take on conditional formats, i.e. if X, then Y.

Some examples of ‘Business Rules’ are

  • if the Student enrols in a VET Course they will need a USI before their first competency is reported.
  • if a student in a VET Course does not return the USI by the first lodgement of data, the data will be rejected.

Business rules break down the process into what has to be done, or how to control for risks, and should consider:

  • Organisational Goals
  • Organisational requirements
  • Statutory or regulatory requirements
  • Stakeholder needs
  • Resources
  • Risk and Compliance

Re-engineering Step 2: Reconceptualising the Process

Business rules tell you the what. Reconceptualising is the how. It’s also an opportunity to make your process more efficient. Smart changes have a huge impact. Getting the review and re-conceptualisation right will make it much easier for you and your staff to adapt to the changes.

This stage includes benchmarking your organisation with competitors. What are they doing? Is it better than what you’re doing or are you ahead of the pack? How can this process be used set you apart from other providers?

Take the USI collection process as an example.

What’s the best time to collect it? Before enrolment? After enrolment? When they complete their first competency?

How often are you reporting? The legislation and regulation tell you the minimum requirement, but what is the best process for your organisation needs and to maximise your resources?

Many providers decided to collect the USI immediately after enrolment to give themselves the time to obtain the USI if they are reporting funded student.

Re-engineering Step 3: Outsource, Automate or keep In-House

The best processes make the best use of your resources and keep your ongoing costs low. If you can reduce the costs and processing time by outsourcing or automating a process, this will have a signification impact on your budget. Some opportunities don’t cost you anything but time in planning and implementing. Some opportunities may have a small set up cost that reduces your running costs. In this step, you research the options and check if any new opportunities are available.

onCourse has some features that can be used to automate everyday tasks, such as the online USI process that collects, verifies and imports the verified USI into your database. A link for this can be included in the confirmation of enrolment email, and a script can be activated to follow up on those who have not completed their USI. This drastically reduces the time cost for this process, with no additional setup or ongoing costs to your organisation. The configuration and implementation of these features may take a few hours to plan and execute, but the time saved can have a significant impact on your staff time.

The following articles will discuss tools to break down what to keep in-house, outsource or automate, and case studies of standard processes in training environments.

Re-Engineering Step 4: Document the Process

Armed with your new understanding of the business needs and your reconceptualised process, you can now document the individual steps that form the new process. This may include updating internal documentation, like staff manuals, training materials, your intranet, or records shared drive.

In our example of the USI processes, if you use the onCourse automation, the documentation may be a simple as emailing staff and updating your internal records.

This is the second in a series of articles relating to Business Process Improvement. The other articles are