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Electronic document management at WUT – an interview with Dr Katarzyna Modrzejewska

“The completion is planned for 2025. In the next few years, subsequent processes will be implemented into the electronic document management system (EDMS) in individual stages. The implementation will be gradual, and the first stage will be completed in autumn 2021 in the new academic year,” says Dr Katarzyna Modrzejewska from a management team of the IDUB (“Excellence Initiative – Research University” project) project and the Steering Committee for EDMS. How is the work on the implementation progressing and what does it involve? Read the interview to find out.

40 people are directly involved in the project and indirectly much more - over 100.

40 people are directly involved in the project and indirectly much more - over 100. 

The 13-month pandemic has increased the need to implement the electronic document circulation system at WUT. The work has been underway for a few months. Was it the pandemic that provoked the beginning of this process?

No, it was planned as early as 2019. In the application submitted in the competition of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education “Excellence Initiative – Research University,” we obliged ourselves to implement the electronic document circulation system (EDCS) at the Warsaw University of Technology. To be precise, such tasks as process management and implementation of EDCS are being implemented within Action 31. However, now we don’t refer to it as the electronic document circulation system anymore but rather the electronic document management system (EDMS).

What inspired the change?

It was initiated by Professor Adam Woźniak, Vice-Rector for Development. EDMS is a wider term, which also includes archiving. So, the difference between our initial assumptions and the status quo is that we have extended the scope of operations from the circulation to the document management.  

A wider scope of operations means more work to do. How many people are involved in the project at the moment?

Over 40.

A lot.

Yes. That’s why at the very beginning, during the very first stage of work, we had to carefully analyse what the project team should look like and what roles should be assigned to the individual members of the Steering Committee for EDMS and the whole project team. Following the WUT Rector’s Regulation, the Steering Committee for EDMS was appointed, chaired by Professor Adam Woźniak, Vice-Rector for Development. The Committee members are Professor Mirosław Karpierz, Vice-Rector for General Affairs, Krzysztof Dziedzic, D.Sc., Chancellor (both represent the main user), Janusz Stańczak, D.Sc., Director of Information Technology Centre (which is an internal provider), me as a representative of the IDUB project and Rafał Ruzik, D.Sc., representing the NERW 2 PW project. Jadwiga Bajkowska, the Bursar, also participates in the work of the Steering Committee for EDMS. In my opinion, this proves that EDMS is an important activity for the whole academic community. We are all aware that the expectations of the system are huge. And we wish to meet them.

Where does the involvement of the NERW project in the activity come from?

The funding of the implementation of the electronic circulation of documents has been divided between two projects: IDUB and NERW - hence, mine and Dr Rafał Ruzik’s involvement in the implementation. Our task is to ensure suitable resources from the projects to implement  EDMS.

Who else is working on the implementation of EDMS?

If we move in the structure towards operations, the head of the EDMS project is Gabriel Matus, M.Sc. from the Information Technology Centre (CI), and Michał Trzeciak, M.Sc. (CI) is his deputy. Following the Rector’s regulation, an EDMS project team was appointed, responsible for mapping all processes involved with  EDMS. Members of the project team can create their own working teams whose task is to devise the materials such as the process sheet.

How many teams have been created and what are the areas of their activity?

5 working teams have been created since January 2021, when the WUT Rector’s Regulation entered into force.  Ms Helena Lechnio, Head of Office and Administration Section in the Rector’s Office, is responsible for “office e-instruction”. This area includes over 50 subprocesses. Helena Lachnio’s team’s task is to design a new so-called Uniform Material List of Files (UMLF), which is an essential element of EDMS implementation. Ms Agnieszka Gawrońska-Chrobak, Head of Public Procurements, and her team deal with the process of “public procurement management”. Ms Małgorzata Woźniak, Director of Centre for Project Service,  is responsible for mapping and optimisation of the process of “project management”. Ms Anna Rogowska, Director of Centre for Management of Innovations and Technology Transfer at WUT, is responsible for the “commercialisation” process, and Mr Michał Kucki from the Department for Studies is responsible for the “learning” process. In terms of size, it is the second biggest process we are currently mapping. Each of the working teams has a few members. The outcomes of the teams’ work or stages of work are consulted at WUT units.  You can say that 40 people are directly involved in the work related to the implementation of EDMS and indirectly far, far more. I assume that over 100.

The structure around EDMS looks bigger now. But that’s not the end.

Another crucial piece of this “puzzle” is the team of process management under the supervision of Professor Agnieszka Bitkowska. This is a group of experts on mapping and process optimisation, process management and process work. This team’s task is to take care of the quality of the designed materials, help the team members in the preparation of the optimisation proposal and devise the map of all WUT processes. This is an extremely difficult but absolutely fascinating task. Just imagine a map of processes in a huge organisation like WUT. If you have such information, it gets considerably easier to manage individual processes, and as a consequence the whole University. But I think Professor Agnieszka Bitkowska can say more about it than me.

Where does this division into teams come from?

The process management team and individual working teams cooperate. The division correlates with the competencies of individual team members. Working teams have substantive knowledge about a given area of activity, for instance, about commercialisation, learning or public procurements, and the process management team is an expert on mapping, optimisation, on the process itself, how to manage it and how to describe it. The third group includes experts from WUT Information Technology Centre. They have IT knowledge. They know how to implement EDMS. These three groups cooperate very closely to introduce all the processes into EDMS.

What’s the stage of work now?

Let’s begin with the system itself, whose choice was the responsibility of the Steering Committee for EDMS, and its effective implementation was the responsibility of the team from the Information Technology Centre. The system was chosen. WUT signed two agreements in February 2021. One with the EZD PUW system provider (Podlaski Urząd Wojewódzki PUW – editor’s note) for the use of licence. The second one, a tripartite agreement, was signed with the Warsaw School of Economics (WSE) in Warsaw and PUW. WSE plays the part of our Centre for Competence which helps WUT to implement EDMS and trains the staff on its use. Interestingly,  there are only two Centres for Competence in Poland like that.  It is worth emphasising that the choice of that system was no accident.  The Prime Minister’s Office, National Bank of Poland, Mazovian Voivodship Office, Warsaw University and Polish Academy of Sciences are among the users of EZD PUW system.

Going back to your question about the progress of work, EZD PUW has already been installed at WUT! At present, the Information Technology System is carrying out necessary system tests. Eventually, a couple of processes are supposed to be implemented or “put in the system” in autumn, which we will be able to use at WUT as part of internal processes. This will allow us to implement other processes later and to offer EDMS to external clients.

As concerns the working teams’ work, they work in 10-week sets. This means that teams close the subsequent stages of their work within 10 weeks. Deadlines vary because, first, the processes differ in terms of the number of subprocesses, complexity, etc.; and, secondly, those teams began working at different times. The team dealing with public procurements and project management has completed its first stage of work. They have submitted the prepared materials for checking to the team headed by Professor Agnieszka Bitkowska and the head of the EDMS project, Gabriel Matus.

So, we may expect evolution rather than a revolution in the processes?

That’s right. That’s the plan to implement the EDMS step by step. The completion is planned for 2025. In the next few years, the subsequent processes will be implemented into the system within individual stages. This means that the number of teams will be systematically growing. We will be inviting individuals and units to cooperate.  The Steering Committee for EDMS will decide on the sequence. The implementation will not be dramatic, and the first stage will close in autumn, in the new academic year. Eventually, all we are doing now boils down to achieving even a greater objective, that is to implement process management at our University. We want to optimise and automatise the mapped processes. All these activities are done to enable us to manage processes. That’s the plan for the next five years. I hope the heads of working teams that began working in the first stage can tell us about the benefits of process management and EDMS. Their knowledge and experience in this respect are priceless. I encourage you to talk to them!

I can imagine that WUT employees reading this interview may wonder how they are supposed to know and how they are supposed to learn about all that stuff.

We have also thought about that. The whole WUT community may expect some training. People responsible for EDMS service, that is the secretarial staff in every unit will be trained to know how to use the system. We will prepare guides and instruction manuals. We are planning to organise different meetings and share our knowledge about the maintenance of EDMS. We won’t leave the staff alone with it. The head of EDMS project Gabriel Matus will tell you more about the EZD PUW system itself and any challenges involved, for example, the code reader.