How does an institution manage important files? How can they be made accessible to other departments without being lost or misplaced? What can an organization or department do to address concerns associated with the storage and retention of paper?
One of the most effective ways to centralize and manage information efficiently is by implementing a web-based electronic document management and workflow system. Electronic document management (EDM) software stores electronic files and makes them accessible to multiple departments and individuals who are authorized to access the information, and helps staff to manage the various documents effectively. When coupled with automated workflow, an institution can standardize and improve the processes related to these documents, boost employee productivity, and – believe it or not – even increase enrollment.
www.docfinity.com / page Facilitate your enrollment process through automationHow to soar above paper mountainsBy Gina Rendina, Sales Account Manager, and Ian Llado, Sales Account Manager, Optical Image Technology, Inc.Applying to an institute of higher education marks the beginning of a very important chapter in the life of a potential student. Similarly, each application marks the start of a new student record at the educational institution to which the student has applied. During the lifecycle of this record, various departments, including registrar, financial aid, academic advisement, athletics, honors programs, and alumni relations may require access to it and may add new files. And, as anyone who participates in this lifecycle can attest, this record can include a variety of documents in addition to the application, such as transcripts, exam scores, letters of recommendation, student records, tax forms, financial aid requests, and other supplemental materials. How does an institution manage these important files? How can they be made accessible to other departments without being lost or misplaced? What can an organization or department do to address concerns associated with the storage and retention of paper? One of the most effective ways to centralize and manage information efficiently is by implementing a web-based electronic document management and workflow system. Electronic document management (EDM) software stores electronic files and makes them accessible to multiple departments and individuals who are authorized to access the information, and helps staff to manage the various documents effectively. When coupled with automated workflow, an institution can standardize and improve the processes related to these documents, boost employee productivity, and believe it or not even increase enrollment.Every school strives to offer the best level of service to students and applicants. The return on investment (ROI) from the implementation of a web-based EDM and workflow system to a document-intensive area like Admissions can benefit the entire institution. Significant hard dollar ROI can be seen quickly from the reduced storage, printing, and handling costs associated with paper. Soft dollar ROI, such as the improved efficiency that can shorten the application-to-decision timeframe, can be even greater. Increased application processing speed correlates to higher enrollment. As institutions continue to become more competitive, being able to make a quick offer to an undecided applicant can determine whether or not that applicant enrolls in your institution. Benefits of implementing electronic document management (EDM) software include:" Manage orphan record" Reduce paper and access information instantly" Reduce your need for printing" Simplify storage and reduce associated costs" Manage Retention Schedules" Decrease overhead and increase efficiency" Improve customer satisfaction" Simplify complianceUntitled Document page 2 / ph: 814.238.0038Eliminating paper: EDM makes it easyEDM allows your organization to store all of your documents and related information in a single, central electronic storage repository. It allows departments and organizations to become truly paperless. Original paper documents can be imaged and added to the repository, verified for accuracy and readability, and indexed for easy retrieval. Data in your student information system can be integrated with the EDM system to allow for indexing with less data entry and to ensure data integrity. Email, faxes, reports, transcripts and other electronic documents can be processed directly into the same system and all related documents grouped together to create a total electronic student file to simplify retrieval, communication and processing.Below are some of the ways you can benefit from storing documents electronically: " Manage orphan records An EDM system can help alleviate the common file storage headache that results from orphan documents. Files of applicants not offered admission or who do not enroll can be effectively managed by the EDM system until their retention period expires. EDM can also assist with re-enrollment. Students who re-enroll can be easily reactivated without the cumbersome search and movement of files, or, even worse, their recreation." Reduce paper and access information instantly Having files at your fingertips electronically allows you to stop shuffling papers from one person to the next, and lets you get down to business faster and more efficiently. This helps to reduce or eliminate the paper overload. Now, when an applicant calls with questions or sends additional information, you can access his or her files immediately instead of having to physically search for them in file boxes or travel across campus to the file room. When all files are stored in an EDM system, the chances of misfiling are also greatly reduced." Reduce your need for printing Working with and sharing files electronically results in fewer files that need to be printed out for reference. Instead of printing or copying files for everyone who needs to see or sign a paper, you can share it with them all electronically and simultaneously." Simplify storage and reduce associated costs Paper files have been known to take up entire rooms and vast amounts of square footage, making storage and retrieval of information both expensive and inefficient. Implementing EDM can save an institution money on physical storage space (whether on or off site) and filing cabinets." Manage Retention Schedules Student records may have different retention schedule timelines. Some documents must be retained for a specified number of years, while others must be retained for the life of the student. Your institution s existing paper-based records retention policy can be facilitated more simply when the files are electronic. Rules can be configured based on the document type, student data, date created, or a combination of values. The system monitors that data and flags documents for destruction, movement, copying, or legal and FERPA holds, based on rules you create. EDM allows your organization to store all of your documents and related information in a single, central electronic storage repository. It allows departments and organizations to become truly paperless. Untitled Document www.docfinity.com / page A good EDM system also provides better and more secure access to information than a paper-based system. Security features within the software can be set to allow access only to those who need specific information or types of documents, or even block out sensitive information so that certain users cannot view it (such as financial information that should not be accessible to everyone). A robust web-based system can enable authorized users to access files from remote locations (such as satellite campuses) via a Web browser - securely, instantly, and simultaneously. This removes the need to physically transport files between employees, offices, departments and campuses, and reduces the number of lost or misplaced files. Web access can also reduce the amount of IT overhead since there is no special software that needs to be installed on the users machines. Other benefits of EDM include: " Decreased overhead and increased efficiency EDM enables users to retrieve, track, share, revise and distribute documents electronically throughout an institution to improve productivity and efficiency. Rather than an Admissions representative spending time preparing a paper copy of an applicant s file to send to the Financial Aid office, Financial Aid staff can be granted online access to the relevant files. The file is viewable, but it physically remains in the electronic storage repository, meaning it will never be lost. The need for intra- and inter-campus mail is also reduced with EDM, especially if a school has multiple campuses. EDM allows information and application processing to be done via remote access from various campuses, offices, even homes. Thus, the cost to ship documents across campuses or states is reduced. " Improved customer satisfaction The efficiency of EDM results in better service to students, parents and other departments. With an EDM system s improved retrieval capabilities, you are able to answer questions about a specific application faster, which translates into customers who are more satisfied with the service you provide." Simplified compliance The electronic storage and backup of files, audit trails provided by the EDM system, and the automated management of retention schedules aid in compliance with regulations (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.). They also help information recovery efforts in the event of a disaster.Workflow: processing enrollment information more quicklyWhile electronic document management can help your organization reduce paper, save on storage costs and space, and improve the access to and sharing of information, automating your workflow process can multiply these benefits. Automated electronic workflow complements and expands upon the capabilities of the EDM system, enabling you to circulate documents that require review, approval, signatures, or other actions, and process applications more quickly. Documents that require days or even weeks for review and action within a paper-based environment can be processed in a matter of hours or minutes, all from the convenience of your desktop. Untitled Document page 4 / ph: 814.238.0038Several benefits of workflow are detailed below:" Automate processes Electronic workflow can assist in improving and streamlining processes, while ensuring that your existing business processes are executed efficiently. Well-defined, repetitive business processes that follow a series of steps (such as application review, financial needs assessments or transcript evaluations) can be transformed into electronic workflows that duplicate these manual business functions. A system with a robust workflow capability will allow you to set timelines for processes that can include time limitations for individual tasks, as well as for the entire business process. You can incorporate the application processing timelines you already have in place for your manual process into the workflow when it is created, and ask the system to notify your employees when deadlines are approaching, or to inform management if important deadlines have been missed. As your process becomes faster and more efficient, you can adjust the timelines you set for individual steps or for the whole process, enabling your staff to process an even greater volume of applications more quickly." Automatically trigger process with receipt of file When you are using a powerful workflow system, workflows can be configured to automatically launch when new items are added to the system or attached to a student s electronic record. In fact, different workflows can be designed to start a process automatically, depending upon the type of document that is received. Then, during processing, items can be sent to various users queues for additional work. Relevant documents pertinent to the process can be forwarded electronically via workflow. For example, if you are processing an application and more information is needed, the item can be flowed back to the last person who worked on the job, or to whoever needs to add his or her input or render approval. When an item is ready be moved along in the process, a simple mouse click can update its tracking. " Improved document handling Once configured, workflow automatically addresses getting the right document to the right person at the right time and eliminates the file shuffling so rampant in paper-based systems. This automated processing reduces errors and increases accuracy to help improve operations. A feature of a better workflow system is the ability to accommodate for users vacations and absences and to set up workflow distributions by user and by job position. Better workflow systems can also be set up to automatically re-route work to a backup user or group of users when the original user is unavailable. " Improved student servicing Establishing electronic workflow processes allows you to serve applicants and students more quickly and with greater accuracy. When a student calls to inquire about the receipt or status of a particular document, the institutional representative who takes the call can immediately provide the answer, regardless of where the application is in the review process, because he or she has access to the files. Increasing the efficiency and EDM alone provides many benefits to an organization. Storing applications and supporting files electronically is a great first step. Adding electronic document-driven workflow can help you push college application details along the right channels for faster, more accurate processing. When EDM is coupled with workflow, the result is an even more powerful solution to help your organization soar.Untitled Document www.docfinity.com / page /accuracy of your internal processing will result in happier staff and students. " Gain metrics on improvements Since electronic workflow is 99% data driven, all relevant data can be used to measure improvements. Reports can be configured for a multitude of needs, for example, to identify any production bottlenecks, show user activity, and track the average length of time needed to process particular tasks. Report data can be exported into pie charts, bar graphs, live dashboard views and other web-based tools for viewing. Imagine the reaction from upper management when you produce an easy-to-read graph with hard numbers resulting directly from the implementation of the EDM/Workflow system!EDM + Workflow = improved efficiency and successUniversities, both small and large have seen the benefits of adding EDM and workflow to their processing mix. In fact, after implementing such a system, Laura Garver, a Financial Aid Coordinator at Penn State University, remarked, Our processing did not change when we began imaging. However, the workflow and document tracking changed the way staff receives documents and provides immediate access to documents when imaged, which is a huge benefit. As staff became more comfortable with handling imaged documents, they began to change their processes and increase productivity. EDM alone provides many benefits to an organization. Storing applications and supporting files electronically is a great first step. Adding electronic document-driven workflow can help you push college application details along the right channels for faster, more accurate processing. When EDM is coupled with workflow, the result is an even more powerful solution to help your organization soar.For information about Optical Image Technology s document management solution for education, please visit our website at http://www.docfinity.com, contact Optical Image Technology at 814.238.0038, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.