Digitalising processes with power tools
The project team (from left): Eileen Lim (OETU), Dayang Chokri (RO), Lim Wee Keong (OETU) and Jennifer Yee (RO)

Digitalising processes with power tools

When the “circuit breaker” measures were announced by the Singapore government in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University took the opportunity to review and improve common processes for more effective student administration.

Every semester, the Registrar’s Office (RO) receives a substantial volume of requests from students to review their results for academic modules. The review application process involved physical form submissions to students’ home Faculties and Schools, as well as the departments hosting the modules. 

To enable continuity during the “circuit breaker” period, a project team comprising staff from RO and the Organisational Excellence Transformation Unit (OETU) was formed to digitalise the results review process. The team spoke to administrators from various Faculties and Schools before exploring available options. “We found that a combination of Microsoft Forms and Power Automate from the Office 365 product suite offered the best solution in a short time frame,” shared Eileen Lim, Senior Manager at OETU.

Microsoft Forms functions as an online survey and form generator, while Power Automate is an application for users to create workflows that automate routine and manual tasks. Leveraging Microsoft Forms, the hardcopy results review forms were migrated to one digital form with six primary fields. Thereafter, the online workflow created with Power Automate routes all form submissions to the host departments via email with students in copy. If errors occurred during form submissions (such as wrong module codes being entered), students would receive emails notifying them of their unsuccessful attempts.    

With full participation from Faculties and Schools, a total of 713 online applications for the review of module results were received during the project’s pilot run in the second semester of Academic Year 2019/20. The exercise was a success, bringing great benefits to both students and the University. Students enjoyed the convenience of online application through their mobile devices while for Faculties and Schools, the elimination of hard copy application forms resulted in increased efficiency, with relevant data automatically collected and sent to various departments for review.

“It was challenging at the beginning because none of us had the experience of creating online forms and workflows,” said Dayang Sumandeng Binte Chokri, Management Assistant Officer from RO. Jennifer Yee, Deputy Registrar at RO was appreciative of the support received from NUS IT, who held a training session for RO staff. “Some of our staff have progressed to creating their own online forms and workflows,” Jennifer added.

Lim Wee Keong, Manager from OETU noted that while staff experienced an initial learning curve when using Microsoft Forms and Power Automate, these tools are accessible and useful for streamlining and automating business processes. Furthermore, coding knowledge is not required.

For the latest updates and tips on using Microsoft Forms and Power Automate, please join this Microsoft Teams group to learn more.

 

Organisational Excellence is a strategic initiative undertaken by the University to develop best practices for an efficient and world-class administration to better support NUS’ Vision and Mission. It aims to bring about improved work processes and policies as well as create opportunities for talent development and growth.

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