New College Durham has improved its finance system and internal business processes using Advanced Business Solutions' finance database and workflow system.
The workflow application was first bought to improve the finance department, but it has since been rolled out across the college to replace paper-based processes.
The college provides further and higher education in the north east of England It chose the Advanced products two years ago after a tender process, said Nicola Whiting, systems accountant at New College Durham.
Its old financial database was coming to the end of its support lifecycle, so the college needed a product to provide continued support.
New College Durham, which has around 15,000 students, went live with the Advanced finance database, document management platform and workflow system on 1 August 1 2012. Whiting said the Advanced system was attractive for the college because of the flexible workflow software.
“Because it was so flexible, we developed it even further to improve other processes elsewhere,” she said.
“In doing that it transforms how we think about process and efficiency and the flow of paper around college,” she said. "Two years down the line we’ve had a restructure to allow us to support the development in the college.”
Expanding workflow functionality
The college found it could expand the workflow application without incurring more costs. The eBIS workflow processes invoices and expense claims, but also helps with other tasks such as booking a room, processing training applications, helpdesk systems and booking supply teachers.
“We’re now using eBIS as a college-wide system in areas such as human resources, learning and training and to support our CIS helpdesk. We may also be able to use eBIS for the benefit of future students,” said Whiting.
Using the workflow widely around the college has not only saved on paper, but also saved time and efficiency on administrative tasks. Some processes for which the workflow application has provided a more efficient alternative were called "electronic" – but merely comprised electronic forms which staff emailed around the college.
The OpenAccounts financial management system is integrated with the eBIS workflow module. Both are accessed by staff through the college intranet.
For the finance team at New College Durham, the eBIS workflow system is used to manage invoice approvals, petty cash, credit note approvals and expense claims.
Expense claims are now automated – previously managing expenses was a full-time job for a member of the finance team.
The OpenAccounts system looks after all money going in and out of the college, including procurement and fees from students, and produces monthly account budgeting.
Whitling said the database’s look, feel and functionality was an improvement, while the integration of the Advanced systems has made business processes easier.
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