An inquiry into robotic process automation implementation in institutions for higher education : a case study of RPA implementation at the section for admissions at the Norwegian School of Economics
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- Master Thesis 
The background for our research is the digitalization strategy for the higher education sector 2017-2021, issued by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. This addresses the need for a standardization of processes and the potential for Robotic Process Automation. Our study is based on Design Science Research, in which one creates knowledge in the development and evaluation of an artifact. We have developed a robot assistant for the process of deferment of study offer at NHH, in cooperation with the Section for Admissions. We have used the process perspective and RIS modelling to document the process and develop a proof of concept for an automated deferment of study offer. The proof of concept has been evaluated by the Section for Admissions to provide insight into the technical viability and the efficiency implications of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The proof of concept has shown that the system landscape is suitable for automation, and that there is technical viability in the process environment. The literature points to quantity and complexity as indicators of viability for RPA. However, our findings indicate that there are other factors which must be considered. These factors can be intangible or more difficult to measure, but the Section for Admissions still found the value of these factors to be important. These can be factors such as higher productivity from reallocating employees, faster response time (and happier students), greater accuracy and reduced indirect labor cost. We have also found that the output quality may be improved through the implementation of RPA. Our findings suggest this applies to not only the deferment of study offer, but also other processes in the administration of NHH. Similarities in the process environment suggest that this can be replicated at other institutions. In higher educational institutions, RPA is a highly viable solution for administration. Processes may be shared to different degrees among administrative units. Our study suggests that processes in the same system landscape, can be fully or partially reusable among institutions. This indicates that there may be extensive possibilities for reuse, adaptation and shared costs among institutions, in addition to those between internal administrative units. Shared process automations could potentially make more processes viable for automation, reduce costs, and save time for implementation at NHH and at other institutions for higher education.