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Part 1: Is Your School Board Ready for Digital Transformation?

Alberta’s school boards are undergoing an unprecedented transformation, paving the way by bringing student education into the digital era. Driven by the Provincial Approach to Student Information (PASI) initiative, Alberta’s school boards have collectively agreed to develop paperless processes and digitize student records by September 2020. But with the paper records of tens of thousands of students in storage and an influx of over 70,000 new students entering Alberta’s education system each year, educators are challenged to develop an effective strategy that can withstand budget, time and compliance constraints. Asking the Right Questions Each of Alberta’s school boards is at a different stage in the Digital Transformation process. While some are still using traditional paper-based processes, others have begun to digitize. Regardless of where you are on your journey, it’s important to look at the larger picture and ask the right questions. Are we prepared for Digital Transformation? If not, how can we get there? Before diving into digitization, a good place to start is to assess your school board’s readiness to undergo Digital Transformation so that you can identify areas that may need attention. Begin by asking yourself these questions: Do our senior leaders recognize digitization as essential for success?What is the culture around a change in our school board? Are our employees on board? Can our current technology sustain these upcoming changes?Do we have supporting policies and procedures, resources and skillsets to enable Digital Transformation? How willing is our school board to innovate and conceptualize new business processes? How will we convert our documents into a digital format? Is outsourcing the best option? Choosing an approach to scanning your paper records is dependent on a number of factors. Perhaps you work at a smaller school board that started scanning student records several years ago and has the internal administrative capabilities to keep most of the work in-house. On the other hand, you may have a larger volume of records to capture that are physically dispersed at several schools, and given the September 2020 deadline, you know your internal administrative team would be hard-pressed to complete the work in-house. To help with the decision, consider the following: What is the volume of records you need to be scanned?Are the file collections located in several locations and will need to be transported? Does your school board own the hardware/software needed to scan in-house?What are your budget and timeline? Depending on your answers to these questions, you may decide to keep the work in-house or outsource it. You may also use a hybrid approach so that your team is involved in the work but is enabled by a third party that brings added expertise and capabilities to the mix. In Part 2 of our series on Digital Transformation in Education, we will review strategies for completing the first step in Digital Transformation: the capture and digitization of backfile record collections.

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What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotic and Process Automation “Robotic process automation (or RPA) is an emerging form of clerical process automation technology based on the notion of software robots or artificial intelligence (AI) workers.” - BrainBotics In a nutshell, this means we take current human-based activity and automate it using software automation. RPA operates on the surface, so if a user goes to a website and copies some information and then goes to their accounting system and pastes that information in, we can do the same thing, only without the person needing to perform the action. This approach means you don’t need to redefine the process—instead, the robot actually records the action and then repeats it with a few variables in place. It also means you don’t need to be a programmer to make one. That all sounds great but isn’t that what BPM and BPA tools do? Actually, it isn’t. BPM is a process for improving business processes and it has its foundation in operations management; fortunately, I have a background in operations management and information management so I have experienced both. BPM is a part of quality control. Its purpose is to provide a process map that can be measured and improved upon over time, and it is the driver behind programs like Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing. The primary way BPM helps organizations is through a reduction in variance and through proper metrics, without those as a foundation, organizations (especially manufacturers) would have difficulty improving. BPA Tools are often referred to as workflow tools and provide a way for you to map and automate business processes. The approach in a BPA tool is to recreate the process from the ground up, automating process steps through either predefined steps, like sending an email, or through programming functionality. Some tools are pretty easy to use and don’t require a developer, while others require a workflow developer to create the code to build a workflow. Where I see the need for RPA is within systems integration. Often, systems integration projects are costly and time-consuming, but with an RPA tool, you can pull from one system and move information to another without any programming required. If a user can show a robot how it is done, then the robot can do it. RPA and BPA tools all have the same end goal in mind: save the organization time and money. Using the right tool for the right job will help your organization, no matter the requirement. It will also pay for itself in a very short period of time. Most organizations purchase these tools for a specific pain point but quickly learn that they can be used in other processes, providing better value. Before you decide on a tool, you should consider where it can be used in the organization as a whole. If you can quickly identify three or more internal processes that could use the tool, you are likely to show a return on investment in the first year. Both RPA and BPA serve a specific purpose, just the approach is different. No matter which tool we use, BPM should be the foundation for the process moving forward. If you dig down, you are going to find your organization probably has a need for all three. Even the best-run organizations have room to improve. For more information visit the link below.

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How to Transform your Space Using 3M DI-NOC Vinyl

Who remembers the vehicles adorned with infill wood panels, typically seen on the sides of sedans, convertibles and… station wagons. I don’t want to date myself, but the first time I would have laid eyes on one of these gems was when Clark W. Griswold hauled the family to Wally World in the 1983 classic film ‘Vacation’. Not exactly the typical Woodie, but the Wagon Queen Family Truckster did have wood panels. Originally, Woodies were made with real wood framework, but later models, like the Griswold’s, used wood-grain sheet vinyl called DI-NOC. 3M pioneered DI-NOC in the 1950’s for this specific use. It was developed to create a realistic wood-like vinyl which would eliminate the weight of real wood on the car, while being more cost effective. Unfortunately, it didn’t catch on as anticipated. DI-NOC began to gain popularity in the 90’s when the Japanese started using it as an architectural product. With the ability to stick to almost any existing substrate, DI-NOC became the go to material when re-furbishing and re-covering existing spaces. Fast forward to today. DI-NOC has advanced substantially and is available all over the world for many types of commercial, institutional and residential applications both indoors and out. What is 3M DI-NOC vinyl? 3M DI−NOC vinyl’s are durable, cleanable and flexible PVC films that use Comply Adhesive air release technology for fast, easy and virtually bubble-free application. The films have excellent adhesion and flexibility, allowing them to be used indoors or outdoors on flat or complex curved substrates, walls, furniture, fixtures, etc. Some of the films can also be applied to 3−dimensional surfaces and/or thermoformed. These films are ideal for both new construction and remodeling. Why choose 3M DI-NOC ? 3m DI-NOC finishes have many advantages: Large Selection: Over 700 different patterns to select from giving you the ultimate creative control. 21 different product categories ranging from Wood Grain, Fine Woods, Concrete, Leather, Marble, Metallic and many more finishes. Quick and clean to install: Minimizes turnaround time and disruption to workplace getting you back up in running quickly. Budget friendly: Can use existing substrates so costs are minimized when you can re purpose existing fixtures, walls and furniture. Environmentally friendly: DI-NOC architectural finishes are not produced from trees or metal-bearing ores. A green building product, they go up fast, with less likelihood of error and waste. And when their lifecycle ends, select DI-NOC products are easier on the earth. Sustainable: Most DI-NOC architectural surfaces earn LEED credits for green building. Specify them instead of materials that come from forests or metal-bearing ores that require mining. And when its lifecycle ends, DI-NOC products are easier on the environment, too. Insist on 3M DI-NOC For renovations: Lightweight and self-adhering, DI-NOC architectural finishes can be applied to existing substrates, reducing labor and material cost compared to natural materials. With DI-NOC products, you create a whole new look, quickly and inexpensively without compromising on aesthetics, thanks to its uncanny resemblance to natural materials. For new construction: Perhaps you prefer the authenticity of real wood, metal or stone. That’s only natural. Use them for select areas. Specify DI-NOC architectural finishes everywhere else. You’ll get cost savings, speed of application, durability and still maintain the aesthetic look you desire. Experience 3M Visualizer for DI-NOC

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