Adjunct faculty members are an important resource on campuses, supplementing full-time faculty course offerings and making it possible for students to complete required courses on time. But until the fall of 2011, adjuncts and full-time faculty teaching additional courses were causing a tremendous drain on resources at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, located in Green Bay.
Each course required a faculty course agreement (FCA) be issued. In a year, 9,000 FCAs were generated—touched by five people, printed twice, and completed over days or even months. They were prone to last-minute complications, too, such as when it was discovered someone had exceeded the 408-hour annual teaching maximum.
Payroll assistant Peggy Kuester worked with colleagues in Learning, Financial Operations, and Human Resources, using the Lean Process to map out the current workflow and compare it to the ideal state. After determining that automation would streamline the process, they turned to the college’s Information and Instructional Technology department for help in developing a new application.Working over the summer of 2011, IIT staffers took the team’s wish list and created a program that met every single request. In total, development of the electronic FCA system took 1,419 hours, at an internal cost of $99,330.
It took only a few weeks for that entire development cost to be recovered, once 795 FCAs had been processed electronically. In total, the electronic FCA system will recover an estimated $1,125,000 per year, assuming 9,000 FCAs and 2.5 hours of processing time per agreement saved, at $50 per hour.
But the real advantage is speed. The former process in payroll involved someone alphabetizing the FCAs, manually calculating payments, verifying instructors’ teaching time, entering the payroll system data, and then balancing paper copies with payroll calculations. It was arduous, error-prone, and time-consuming.
Now, teaching eligibility can be confirmed long before an FCA is created, rather than right before classes start. Instructors can receive FCAs via email and accept or reject them on the spot. The contracts can be tracked, and follow-up communication initiated when the FCA is not returned—something that wasn’t possible when FCAs were delivered via snail mail. Manual data entry errors have also become a thing of the past. “There is no more waiting for contracts to be routed,” says Kuester, nor are contracts lost in the mail. Additionally, paychecks can be issued in a matter of hours, rather than as many as two weeks, which has significantly cut down on customer service phone calls the payroll office receives.
Under Wisconsin’s new budget, “NWTC had significantly fewer dollars to work with. Meeting the needs of Northeast Wisconsin’s workforce meant doing more with less. Revising the FCA process was a way to not only do more with less, but to do more and do it better,” says Kuester.
Staff can now better respond to student and prospective student questions and help students with their licensing requirements. Freed from FCA paperwork and constant faculty contact, staff members are able to reinvest time where it matters most—