Curtin University Facts
- Data Integrity – A single source of truth
- No duplication of effort entering the same data into several systems.
- Academic Staff have access to their timetables in their outlook calendars.
- Saved $2.3 million per year.
What do you get if you integrate Syllabus Plus with a payment system? A saving of $2.3 million if you are Curtin University. Caryn Bate, discusses PAYG (paying casual academic staff using Syllabus Plus Data).
Curtin University is Western Australia’s largest university with locations in Perth, Malaysia and Singapore. It supports a rich diversity of cultures in both its students and staff. It offers some of its 36,000 students a range of industry-aligned courses preparing them with business and industry knowledge, skills and experience post-graduation.
Curtin University first became a Scientia customer in 1997 when they purchased Syllabus Plus. They upgraded to use Enterprise Foundation and have purchased a range of Scientia products to complement their timetabling requirements.
The Resource Optimisation Project was created after the university called for a review and restructure of all professional areas. The object of the project was to reduce the duplication of effort associated with the collection and utilisation of HR data by streamlining processes and integrating systems to create efficiencies.
“Why the need to streamline in the first place? Quite simply the maths wasn’t adding up. It was costing the university $2.3 million per year to process payments for casual academic staff. It took just 11 F/T professional staff members to process all staff (excluding casual academic) payments totalling $700 million per year whilst on the flipside it took 25 F/T professional staff members to process payments of $36 million per year for casual academic staff.”
Blue Sky Thinking
The original process meant that there was no consistency in how the data was being collected. Schools used either SWP or HR created spreadsheets to capture the data, and send it back to HR, where 25 people would manually enter the data. Once entered onto the system the data would be uploaded into the Staff portal where it would then be checked by the casual academic and approved by the school when final payment would be made. This process happened every fortnight.
This outdated system was resource-intensive and increasingly difficult to keep running effectively. The solution was to create a four step process: 1: attach casual academic staff to classes, 2: integrate Syllabus Plus with the payment system, 3: approve in the staff portal, and 4, make the payment.
How to get from A to B
“Buy in! and not just from the senior management. The Deputy Director of People services invited all stakeholders to a meeting to create the project group. Each member of the group had to join the coalition of the willing, without it the project would have failed. There also needed to be buyin from the schools to trial the new approach. We had to create current and potential future process maps for comparison.”
“We knew that we wanted to reduce the number of data entries and we also knew that we needed a single source of true data, to trust. By purchasing Web Data Collector (WDC), we were able to attach staff to classes or, if the school knew the classes that the staff were going to be teaching for 12 weeks of the semester they could be attached using Staff Workload Planner (SWP).”
Web Data Collector helps to improve data quality by removing the step of manual inputting and by standardising the way data is collected. WDC integrates directly with Enterprise Foundation. Data can be constructed in a way that it corresponds with the data in Enterprise Foundation, whilst SWP can report on all staffing activities, not just teaching.
Replacing SPDA with Connect, the University was able to build an HR payment workflow to integrate between Casual Academic Payment system and Syllabus Plus. The workflow was set to automate transfer during the night reducing the requirement for human intervention.
“The data had to be 100% accurate or the payment would be inaccurate. EAA was purchased so that the schools could quickly and efficiently change staff allocations should they be required to for example due to illness. The four pilot schools have been using EAA to manage any changes. They really like EAA and its simplicity of use, plus it was easy to set-up. The timetabling team have made it so that the pilot schools can only change staff in EAA and have removed all the other functionality. The good thing with EAA is that the timetabling team can control what functionality the schools can have through Authorisation Manager. They can change staff, week by week or by using their mobile, for example, if the school finds out a staff member is sick, they can amend the allocation within seconds.”
In total 4 schools piloted the system and have successfully attached casual academics to their classes via WDC or SWP. A further 6 schools will be joining the second pilot for semester 2 (50% of schools) and it is expected that this approached will be university-wide by 1st semester 2019.
“EAA has been utilised, to make adjustments – Search facilities in EAA are very flexible so it’s easy to find the correct class. You can use a single object or a combination of objects. Eg. ‘ACCT Mon 8’ would return all the classes that have a unit name beginning with ACCT and were scheduled on a Monday at 8am or pm”.
“All casual academics scheduled teaching activities are now being paid via the Connect workflow into the payment system every fortnight. Having a source of truth and collecting the data once at a single source is the most efficient way to collect and use the data. Integration is key – data has to be brought in clean from the source of truth to where you need it. Future proof the concept to ensure that there is no need to revisit the same workflows if simple changes happen. Having a willing coalition to succeed from all impacted areas is critical, without it the project would have failed.”