Adapting and adopting to Automation technology should be an exciting experience. We understand you may seem unsure of what this means at first, however introducing Automation in the form of virtual assistants is all about complementing and enhancing talented team members.

Automating processes is something to embrace because it creates more engaging and rewarding roles for those whose time is taken up by carrying out repetitive and more transactional tasks.

It’s a win-win situation for all, as colleagues are given time back to focus on more enriching work like growing skill sets and taking on new projects, while service quality is improved through faster delivery, reduction in errors and greater use of data to aid continuous progress.

Our Automation journey so far

We created the Automation Service to increase productivity, release capacity, and reduce costs. We are delivering measurable impact across the institution by enhancing quality, turnaround times, reducing costs, and improving staff and student experience.

Here are some examples of automations we have delivered:

Learning & Teaching: Digitising and automating coursework extension requests

Why? The Colleges wanted to improve the student experience across the extension request process and reduce the administrative burden on frontline staff. 

What? The virtual worker categorises extension requests according to agreed academic and business rules, to enable efficient processing and escalation of extension requests. This alleviates significant burden from the administrative teams who previously manually reviewed and responded to these requests.

Impact: Improved data reporting on request reasons and volumes; significant reduction in turnaround time in responding to student requests; staff time released from manual processing. 

Staff Experience: Automation of the staff recruitment process

Why? There are many time-consuming admin tasks relating to the staff recruitment process from collation of interview packs, requesting and uploading references, and creating vacancy advertising materials. 

What? We worked with colleagues in P&OD to develop 6 virtual workers to support across these tasks. The virtual workers perform tasks such as: creating job adverts and publishing them to the website; generating and distributing shortlisting paperwork for interview panels; requesting and uploading references for shortlisted candidates. 

Impact: improved turnaround times; staff time savings; increased accuracy. 

Applicant Experience: Automating data-driven responses to frequent applicant enquiries

Why? Admissions wanted to improve the communications sent back to applicants; reduce the response time to reply; and re-direct staff time to support other applicant-facing activity. 

What? The automation validates all applicant enquiries received against a framework of categories and subcategories and, where possible based a series of defined business rules, collates the necessary data to generate a response to the applicant.

Impact: Improved application communications;reduced errors and improved quality; significantly reduced turnaround time for responses. 

Experiencing Automation

Curious to hear about what it's really like to introduce a virtual assistant into your team? We've asked collegues embracing Automation for their thoughts and feelings of the experience so that we can share them here for you to watch.

College of Social Sciences - Academic Registration

Watch this video to hear about the College of Social Sciences' experience of automating aspects of the academic registration process!

Lessons learned

We have completed some great work so far with introducing Automation across a number of teams. We have learned some lessons which we will share below and ensure we take forward during future work.

  1. We know that technology is not a constraint or the challenge. The biggest challenge is getting time with colleagues beginning their Automation journey to ensure we understand their processes. This means we can build a great virtual assistant and ensure that the Service Team can be confident it will do what they want it to do.
  2. Capturing data at the outset is critical to ensure we can chart progress and improvements. We need to have a good baseline of process information so that Service Owners can manage and monitor progress.
  3. Testing of the virtual assistant is critical. We need to have enough case volume and time from the team to ensure we can robustly test our work. Putting the effort in during testing makes go-live much easier.
  4. We need to be really clear up front about the potential benefits that we want to achieve, for example, service & experience improvements, reduction in workarounds, time savings. It is important we are all on the same page and know what is possible.
  5. Language is important. Robot or virtual assistant? Business change or adoption of the change? We have learned what lands well but will continue to improve as we progress.