Tracking student progress and providing appropriate support is a challenge for doctoral programs worldwide—and, before 2020, it was a challenge that most universities tackled without the use of technology. Before the pandemic, education was one of the least digitized and most people-intensive sectors.

But leveraging technology doesn’t mean taking the human element out of education. In fact, leveraging data to track and support students throughout their graduate education can be used to improve graduation rates and streamline the administration of doctoral programs.

Here are three ways to save time and streamline your doctoral programs while using technology to support the many people involved—not replace them.

Eliminate paper-based processes

Most universities still rely heavily on paper-based workflows—even if that “paper” is electronic. Processes are often manual, using email and hard-copy signatures to coordinate events and grant approvals. 

In such a manual environment, information is easily lost. It’s often hard to track precisely where an approval has been hung up within a multi-stage workflow involving multiple signatories and siloed communication.

Automate sign-offs and alleviate the burden of manual tracking for faculty advisors and administrators with cloud-based software. 

Cloud-based access to online forms enables students, faculty, and staff to log in and view relevant information at any time. Automation ensures that the system will notify the next person in the chain once they’ve taken action. Such a system makes it easy to see where each workflow sits in the overall process, who is responsible for moving the workflow forward, and when tasks are due.

Automated systems let you eliminate the pain points of paper while keeping the perks—like the classic “paper trail,” which is far easier to manage when you remove paper from the process. Every step is automatically captured, time-stamped, and assigned with custom workflows, so nothing slips through the cracks.

Increase transparency with a single source of truth

Information silos have become the plague of the modern workforce, and higher education is far from immune. There’s a lot to track in the pursuit of a graduate degree: coursework, preliminary exams, annual progress reviews, and other milestones and goals. For faculty, administrators, and students alike, tracking progress is an overwhelming task with so many disparate sources of information to monitor.

Establish a central location where everyone involved can track progress, manage resources, and share information. 

This approach eliminates information silos in one fell swoop. All formal interaction around the process takes place on one central platform. It’s where students and staff can track progress, interact with faculty advisors, and keep all the information relating to their degree. With all the information in one place, no one has to ask where to find a report or a form; it’s all centrally located, ready to be viewed or actioned by everyone with access. 

Selecting software that integrates with other existing solutions, like your student record system, simplifies the process of centralizing user management. A complete, interactive student record empowers students to easily track their program objectives, expectations, and progress, providing transparency into the path to a degree. Advisors and coordinators gain peace of mind by successfully managing timelines, follow-ups, and documentation. 

Spot trends with cloud-based analytics

Finally, get ahead of challenges and share successes by using cloud-based analytics to capture critical benchmarks like time to completion, retention, and other student success metrics.  

Data tracking and automated record-keeping also benefit newly hired or remote staff. New staff members who are familiarizing themselves with processes can be aided by software that guides them step by step. Teams working remotely or on hybrid schedules find tracking and analytics software invaluable. When staff members aren’t in the office, they can still easily see what’s required of them next. 

In addition, if a staff member is on vacation or leaves the university, automated data tracking software enables their replacement to understand the status of different tasks, ask questions, and reroute work as needed. 

Managing a doctoral program involves tremendous complexity and attention to detail. Request a demo to learn how our Graduate Education Manager (GEM) streamlines the post-graduate administration process and increases operational efficiency.