With increased pressure to streamline processes and increase efficiency, colleges and universities are continually exploring ways to improve their operations and minimize costs. The addition of technology into the workflow of generating and issuing higher education employee contracts is one way that institutions are leveraging modern tools to streamline business processes.
In the past, colleges have typically used an antiquated, paper-based system to create, print, distribute and archive faculty and staff contracts. Contracts are often stored in an office overflowing with filing cabinets, making it difficult to access and update documents in a transparent manner. In this unfortunate, yet common scenario, there is a considerable amount of time and resources being lost.
Technology can significantly help higher education institutions better manage the employee contract workflow with increased process efficiency, decreased costs, enhanced security and accountability, as well as improved employee convenience.
Saving Valuable Time with Digital Contracts
Without using modern technology, current paper-based workflows for creating, printing, and distributing curriculum and staff contracts can take several weeks. The process includes the initial offer and any negotiation, followed by letters of intent, which are signed and sent back and forth. The contract is then developed, printed and delivered via courier or express delivery to potential new hires out of the region or state, many times requiring the collection of multiple signatures. If there are any errors in the actual paper contract or the overall process, the cycle is started over again, which can be even more laborious and confusing.
This progression can be completed in a much shorter time period, often in just one week, using business process automation. With an automated process, electronic instructional and non-instructional contracts are distributed immediately, and once complete, can be archived for later access. If any errors exist in the agreement, changes can be remedied far more easily with an electronic contract, preventing the reprint and resending of the contract by the institution. In addition, the automated process is inherently easier to fine-tune and reuse in the future. This is extremely important for returning faculty and staff contracts, as they are already in the system and only require minimal updates. Instead of re-creating the wheel, quick edits can be made digitally and the contract process can start once again.
More Efficiency with Automation
Saving money is an important factor for any institution converting to electronic contract management. However, the biggest advantage is the increased efficiency, as well as the reduction in time and the number of employees required to process large amounts of instructional and non-instructional contracts. Rather than HR and departmental heads having to manually enter data to develop contracts, the necessary data is automatically collected and populated into an electronic contract based on templates for faculty, adjunct and executive staff.
For a busy HR department, it is overwhelming to be inundated with contracts. However, having the ability to quickly edit them online and send them back to the employee seamlessly makes the process more effective and less time consuming. And for institutions that offer continuing education and other courses and seminars, visibility into the overall contract management process is essential across departments.
Added Security and Convenience
Once an institution generates a contract, the path of the paper-based document to an employee can meander if there isn’t close monitoring. This means sensitive personnel material can end up in the wrong location. With an e-form, confidential contracts with important personal information are no longer placed in unsecure filing cabinets or department mailboxes. It also cuts down on the need for departments to keep multiple copies of important forms, e.g., professor evaluation forms, which should only be kept in the HR office.
E-forms can be easily tracked, giving colleges immediate visibility into whether or not a contract was delivered or received. This is especially helpful for managing contracts of adjunct professors, which are often semester-based. Continually drawing up contracts and following up with new adjunct professors has traditionally created an obstacle for institutions, as many of them work remotely or live out of state. E-forms facilitate this process between adjuncts and HR, as well as overall communication across employees, college departments and HR.
Further, HR is responsible for managing the applicant hiring process and maintaining records of all potential new hire candidates, which can be a labor intensive process if not done electronically. Via content management, workflow and e-forms-driven technologies, HR can maintain compliant records on all candidates interviewed via integration with applicant tracking systems.
As more faculty and staff rely on their mobile devices for everyday communication, digital contracts can also be signed and sent via smartphones, tablets and other devices. This dramatically speeds up the process and alleviates additional barriers, as a technology-based system is far more convenient for faculty and staff to receive, complete, review, and return documents.
Employee and even student expectations of the capture, management and distribution of their personal information and records has evolved in the last few years, and with it, the use of business process automation. Technology and the use of digital contracts – available across desktop and mobile devices – have dramatically reduced the need for paper and improved employee productivity by providing educational institutions complete control over how content is captured, processed, distributed, stored and archived.
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