Allowing staff to manage their business travel online, switching to electronic student records, Erasmus Without Paper (EWP): All these projects and more are already ongoing at the University of Mannheim. But could the university’s administrative processes be made fully digital by 2027? A university-wide team has been exploring the possibility since last fall. Coordinator Sascha Adam is now working with a 13-strong digitization team made up of staff from across the university’s deaneries, faculties, and other core institutions. The new team has a lot of work to do. They need to catalogue a vast array of administrative processes, identify the relevant touchpoints, and then work with the university’s IT team and other departments to get other digital transformation projects (some big, some small) off the ground. “We’re currently in the midst of cataloguing the different processes. So we’re looking at what tasks each department is responsible for and how they’re organized across the university. That allows us to build up a complete picture and at the same time get input on any challenges and opportunities”, explained Adam.
Laura Becker is part of the digital transformation team. Her main jobs at the moment are conducting interviews and managing an enormous Excel spreadsheet. “This spreadsheet, in which all the different processes are catalogued, is the heart of the project. It’s where we compile all the information from the interviews so that we can gradually build up a roadmap that helps us to identify priorities and understand interdependencies between projects”, explained Becker. “We want to make sure everyone’s involved right from the start, so that we can design the new processes to be practical and user-friendly. In the first stage, we’ve spent a lot of time on interviews so that we could talk directly to the people affected and make them into participants in the project.”
Print out a document, grab a pen, sign your name, and pop a copy in the internal mail? Adam and Becker want to make that a thing of the past. Their goal is to completely phase out handwritten signatures for internal processes. There is still a lot to do before we reach that point, but the team is working diligently so that one day that digital future will be a reality.
Text: Jule Leger/