Kent State Adopts Rapid Application Development Platform to Better Serve Students, Faculty and Administrators
Kent State’s vision to be a community of change agents and its commitment to putting technology into action has resulted in new programs that rely on agile development and cloud-based services. Adopting OutSystems has produced gains in flexibility, agility and efficiency. Its first two apps have allowed students, faculty and administrators to securely access and process information on smart devices, as well as make requests for services. The university’s IT department can now devote more of its attention to innovation, quickly prototyping applications as well as involving students in building new apps, making the platform both a learning and time-saving opportunity.
Reduce Backlog, Improve Agility, Increase Adoption Rate
Challenge - Kent State University—ranked by the Carnegie Foundation as one of the top 77 public research universities in the United States—encompasses seven campuses in Ohio with additional facilities in the region as well as in New York City and Florence, Italy. Enrolled at the university are more than 41,000 undergraduates and 5,500 graduate students, coming from all 50 states and 100 countries.
To put Kent State’s vision as a community of change agents as well as the university’s commitment to technology into action, Vice President for Information Services and CIO, Dr. Ed Mahon, along with Executive Director of Systems Development Services, Coleen Santee, PMP, have prioritized new programs that rely on agile development and cloud-based services. To that end, Kent State tested OutSystems by building two applications designed to improve the experience of students who live on campus as well as to streamline workflows related to information requests and approvals.
The first app enables students to self-register their wireless smart devices onto the university’s secure Wi-Fi system. The second app replaces a paper process, enabling students to easily request and apply for various services at the university. Both of these applications—developed on OutSystems —served as a proof of concept, demonstrating that Kent State could rapidly develop and deploy new apps to benefit students, professors and administrators. Today with OutSystems, Kent State is delivering applications at a rate of approximately 10 per quarter.
The high volume of requests for new applications at Kent State University, ninety percent of which are workflow related, had resulted in long delays in their delivery. Sameer Jaleel, Director of Platforms & Integration Solutions at Kent State University, sought a new approach to address this issue. According to Jaleel, the solution must offer “canned applications” or modules that allow the reuse of code. This would speed up development and deployment of applications, resulting in shorter wait times and better customer service.
It would also enable his team to focus its resources on innovation rather than on repeatedly hand coding basic tasks. Jaleel investigated OutSystems and learned about their platform that provides a rapid development process that:
- Provides a library of basic applications – enabling the reuse of modules to build more complex applications
- Quickly validates an application’s usability – through swift prototyping
- Enables instant feedback – leading to improved iterations
- Seeing how closely OutSystems matched the needs at Kent State, Jaleel recommended the university select the platform.
- The OutSystems Advantage
The first part of the mission of Kent State University is to discover, create, apply and share knowledge. OutSystems empowers Kent State to rapidly build, test and deploy new applications—applications that enable students, faculty and administrators to use technology to achieve that mission.
Rapidly Prototype Front- and Back-end Systems, Deliver an Intuitive User Experience
Solution - To start, Kent State developed two applications to test OutSystems with the following expectation: once Jaleel and his team had mastered the platform they would build APIs and SDKs in order to easily build more sophisticated applications for the university.
“Kent State has a vision to be a community of change agents and we are putting technology into action to help us deliver on that vision. Adopting OutSystems as our strategic development platform has allowed us to quickly transform into a digital enterprise and deliver new applications in an efficient manner.”
The Self-Provisioning Portal offers a variety of services to students, faculty and administrators. This includes self-registration of wireless smart devices onto Kent State’s secure Wi-Fi system. The previous method required students and staff to contact the help desk, which could take one to 48 hours to white list a device on the network. The new app lets individuals accomplish the same task in minutes, and without any complicated instructions.
The Grad Studies Division Request for Services Application replaces a traditional paper process system, enabling students to easily request a wide range of services. They range from seeking permission to apply for additional employment within the university to filing for a leave of absence. The new app streamlines these processes, removing redundant activities, auto-fills data to better ensure information is correct, and submits the request to the proper recipient.
“OutSystems proved to Kent State that it could rapidly develop and deploy new applications that provide value.”
Results - With gains in flexibility, agility and efficiency, Kent State is positioned to better use technology to serve its mission. Students, faculty and administrators will be able to securely access and process information on smart devices, as well as make requests for services, while the university’s IT department can devote more of its attention to innovation and less to responding to help desk issues.
The added value in cutting the number of help desk requests translates into significant savings in both time and money. “With OutSystems,” says Jaleel. “We are able to quickly prototype applications as well as involve students in building new apps.”
- $45,000 in savings, yearly
- 0 hours needed for user training
- The Self-Provisioning Portal:
- Eliminates an estimated 3,000 help desk requests per year to register smart devices
- Saves $45,000 per year through self-service device registration
- Requires 0 hours to train students to use the application