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Integrated technology transforms the online education industry

The pandemic caused a massive uptick in online learning, with RMIT Online supporting over 23,000 enrolments in 2022 to rapidly introduce a range of different online courses including Blockchain, eCommerce, 5G, Mixed Reality and Project Management. This demand from students increased the pace of operations with expectations to build more courses while maintaining and refreshing existing content.

As the volume of enrolments and courses increased, more time was being dedicated to admin processes, operations and hiring rather than creating best-in-class student offerings. To ensure ongoing expansion while providing the best possible learning experience for its students, the RMIT Online business operations model needed to transform quickly. By keeping these three key objectives at its core, RMIT Online was able to find a new way of working to streamline operations in an era of change.

Focusing on business outcomes

Narrowing in on three to five focus areas proved key to success. The first was to consider the top business outcomes, which in this case was scaling rapidly to ensure the best offering for students whilst onboarding new employees to facilitate these efforts. To put the scale of growth in perspective, almost 60 per cent of RMIT Online’s current headcount was hired remotely since the start of 2020.

After determining your outcomes, it’s critical to ensure the entire organisation, from existing employees to new starters, remains aligned and working towards the same goals. When each department is working together toward defined business goals, you’ll see a real shift in the business’s daily operations, helping quickly accelerate growth and experience.

Bridging the divide between business and technology

Business objectives and technology should work hand in hand. This requires proper alignment and a strong technological infrastructure to support an organisation. Prior to the shift to as RMIT Online’s technology solution, departments ranging from HR and marketing to IT were all using different systems to manage their own workflows, tasks and goals. This resulted in key documents being stored in the wrong place or duplicated incorrectly. It also causes challenges when people from different departments don’t know where or how to access a document creating information silos. Bringing employees on the digital transformation journey requires a unified workspace where everyone can communicate and collaborate together.

Creating a sense of ownership

Goals should be clearly defined, giving each individual a clear understanding of what they own and are responsible for. Increased visibility helps showcase how individual efforts contribute to the achievement of overall business goals. This kind of transparency allows organisations to create a single source of truth, empowering individuals to have the necessary information they need to do their work best and make an impact. This is why breaking down silos improves tracking and visibility around business outcomes and is paramount to success.

Integrative technology connects teams from various internal and external departments through shared channels. Keeping each item in one place and accessible to all relevant parties saves time and ensures tasks keep moving by providing visibility and accountability. This sense of accountability also helps create ownership, empowering individuals and teams to execute assignments they know ladder directly back to business outcomes.

With software that connects teams, removes information silos and clarifies business objectives, the speed of new courses available to students rose dramatically. RMIT Online collectively saved 297 hours per month on administration and tech development throughout the pandemic, bringing the total shopfront of short courses and degrees to over 75. This streamlined approach also allowed university departments to decrease their reliance on IT developers and professionals. With the tech skills talent shortage continuing well into 2023, low-code, no-code operating systems have proved integral in accelerating growth by enabling new IT operations and systems entire teams can adopt swiftly.

Transparency from the top down

Navigating business transformation by embracing a new way of working propelled RMIT Online’s business operations out of day-to-day admin routine to streamlined processes and more agile workflows. With each department of an organisation working towards a common goal or objective, business operations remove ambiguity and create alignment during periods of rapid growth or change.

Will Calvert is RMIT Online Technology & Enablement Director and Rohini Sharma is Industry Lead.

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