London South Bank University goes paperless through digital advancements

A Digital Delivery Squads case study

London South Bank University (LSBU) is on a mission. It has set itself the goal of becoming London’s top modern university by 2020. This outstanding Institution has invested heavily in its facilities in recent years, and is highly regarded for the standard of its education. Its commitment to improving its application process and demonstrating the impact of its teaching and research saw it named as Entrepreneurial University of the Year, in the 2016 Times Higher Education Awards.

As a part of its commitment to support modern and efficient working practices, it’s unsurprising that LSBU asked NotBinary to help.

Our objective: To digitise the existing paper based transactions made by students, staff and external customers.

Our Approach

Working closely with more than fifty stakeholders across the University, we identified initially 100 instances where paper based processes needed to be automated. In collaboration with the project owners we prioritised them as follows:

  1. Student facing services
  2. Revenue generating
  3. Alleviating administration process from LSBU

Some of the core projects in the ten week project included

  • Automating the proof of student status. Historically 10,000 students a year had to physically apply for their student status form in person at the University. This highly manual administrational process merely put pressure on University staff and students often had to wait a few days to receive their confirmation letter.
    To alleviate these issues, NotBinary developed a self-service portal integrated with LSBU’s existing student record system – automating the entire process. This meant a student could apply for and receive their student status letter remotely; saving the University resource, time and money – and ensuring a happy student who can now open a student bank account, apply for a student loan or apply for a discounted Council Tax without delay.
  • International recruitment immigration process. In the past, international students would have to post – often from overseas – their immigration form to the University – adding unnecessary days onto the application process. That’s why the .net developers from Not Binary built an online form that is completed by the international prospective student and automatically sent to the University. Students and The University no longer have to worry about a lost form in the post and we expect to see the application timeline of an international student reduce.
  • Gym membership. The process for becoming of a member of the University’s gym was arduous as it relied solely on a paper based process and required the member to apply in person. Now due to the online process set up by Not Binary, the 600 annual transactions made by the public, students and staff means they can become a member in a matter of minutes – and all done remotely. It’s also removed the need for data inputting by the University.
  • Extenuating circumstances system. Undoubtedly the biggest and most complex part of the work our experts completed for LSBU. By digitising the full end to end process, third parties that need to access the associated evidence of why a student was unable to complete a piece of work or sit an exam, can now do so in a timely, easy and paperless way. As a result we’ve unburdened the University staff who would have had to spend more time gathering information requests from third parties.
  • Hardship Fund request form. When a student comes into financial difficulties, they want to know that they can apply for funding in a quick and stress free way and receive regular updates on their application. That’s why we set up a digitised application process which is integrated with LSBU’s existing student record system. Manual data input of over 600 forms a year is no longer required, freeing up staff to concentrate on business critical issues.

The great work that NotBinary has done has made so much of the student journey with us simpler, quicker and easier. It’s taken pressure off University staff and has revolutionised the way that students, staff and third parties interact with us and work. It was also a pleasure to work with the NotBinary team – they’re passionate about what they do which was clear through their relentless need to ensure they delivered what we needed. I couldn’t recommend them more.

Alexander Denley, Deputy Director, Innovation & Transformation

Agile working

Communication, transparency and inclusion are vital to the success of any work that we do. That’s why our Delivery Director, David Biden conducted daily stand up meetings with the NotBinary team and wider stakeholders where necessary in line with our Agile methodology. Meaning we could constantly assess our priorities and our development and make any adjustments necessary in real time.

And by providing the project owners with a weekly report meant they were able to give senior leaders across the University total clarity over our priorities, our progress and any issues that impacted our success.

Future proofing our work

It’s inevitable that over time some tweaks will be needed to be made to a form or the self service portal in line with University developments. Leaving the existing team with the ability to update our work was key to the ongoing success of the project. That’s why all the development was done to a set of standards that LSBU’s development team currently work against – making future proofing our work a reality.

The results

  • 75 paperless instances were delivered to time (ten weeks) and budget.
  • 42,000 transactions digitised
  • 12 Business Units covered
  • 443 days of administration saved
  • 3 legacy business problems resolved
  • c£150k year on year efficiency savings
  • Happier students!