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ECM Earns high scores on campuses

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In March 2012, San Juan went live with the OnBase transcript capture and transfer credit evaluation solution from Hyland Software. It allows the transcripts to be scanned, using templates created for the specific schools that San Juan works with. Transcript capture pulls demographic, term, course and grade data from electronic or scanned paper transcripts into OnBase.

Downstream benefits

Now instead of manual entry, the transcripts are scanned, verified and imported into the Colleague student information system (SIS) for evaluation. The SIS searches for existing course equivalencies in the articulation database. If no match exists, courses can be routed electronically to faculty for review. "The evaluation process, which used to take four to six weeks, is now being accomplished in one to five days," Gaugh says. And the input of a two-page transcript has gone from about 30 minutes each manually to about five minutes each.

There is a downstream impact from those efficiencies. "It has tremendously improved the processes we need to get students admitted and advised," she says, "and get information to the financial aid office so students can get into class."

Because transcripts are entered and evaluated in a faster and more accurate manner, she explains, the advising center knows which prerequisites have been met when they sit down with a student. The financial aid office has the information it needs to process aid requests, and the students themselves are less likely to repeat a course unnecessarily.

Targeting higher education processes

As researchers from Gartner have pointed out, the definition of enterprise content management is evolving to encompass social content such as wikis and blogs to improve collaboration. The ECM space has seen consolidation, and large  vendors, such as Oracle and Microsoft, are starting to embed content management capabilities into their infrastructure. So, clearly the market is in flux. Yet there continues to be demand for transactional content management solutions involving imaging and workflow improvement. And vendors that have experience with business process management in specific sectors such as higher education will continue to attract IT leaders on campus.

For instance, Villanova's TImothy Toth believes it is important to look at vendors that have experience in higher education. "They have anticipated the questions and problems you are going to run into in your particular niche. I have had demos by the larger companies in the past," he says. "They show me what they have done for an insurance company, but it just isn't relevant." 

Eliminating information silos at Texas A&M

Laserfiche enterprise content management (ECM) has spread across eight campuses of the Texas A&M system. In an e-mail Q&A, KMWorld asked Judith Lewis, senior IT manager for IT solutions and support at Texas A&M, about getting consensus on an enterprise solution and overcoming information silos on campus.

KMWORLD: What are some of the pain points university departments have that typically lead them to adopt an ECM solution?

LEWIS: It is no secret that state budgetary factors are motivating departments and institutions to leverage the economies of scale to their benefit. Also, institutional, state and research regulatory compliance requirements have contributed to departments adopting ECM. In addition, Texas has seen natural disasters from hurricanes and tornadoes to wild fires impact our state. Having documents stored in an enterprise document imaging system provides risk mitigation against loss of files to such disasters.

KMWORLD: Is it a challenge getting departments on a single campus to agree on an enterprise content management system rather than individual systems for each department? How did you get people to come together on that?

LEWIS: The vice president and associate provost for information technology, Dr. Pierce Cantrell, appointed the chair of the Campus Document Management Committee. The committee membership represented the university population broadly. The committee procedures used for the selection process were transparent and well respected, and the conclusions reached by the committee were supported at the university president's office. While having support at the top of the organization is important to the credibility of the endeavor, computing and information services (CIS) intends to operate a shared service that grows because of satisfied customers.

KMWORLD: How does the solution help eliminate information silos on campus?

LEWIS: One of the goals of the Document Management Committee was to enhance the ability to share documents and workflows. As part of the adoption of an enterprise content management system, the shared service is working with the departments on campus to build interfaces between existing implementations and to leverage the work done in those previous implementations for the benefit of new adopters. For example, the Laserfiche implementation at Texas A&M AgriLife started initially as a shared service with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. That first implementation incorporated all locations of those organizations and enabled the sharing and movement of documents across traditional organizational lines, thereby virtually eliminating silos for those agencies.

KMWORLD Has the introduction of ECM offered the opportunity to help reshape how some business processes are undertaken?

LEWIS: Texas A&M AgriLife was able to eliminate 169 five-drawer filing cabinets. Its automated processes saved printing 120,000 pages of documents per year. The Health Science Center eliminated overnight FedEx deliveries to their medical campuses, a $54,000-per-year savings the year it was implemented. Also, Texas A&M business processes have been impacted positively through use of Laserfiche Workflow. The Health Science Center reported that automating a process through Laserfiche really exposed unforeseen issues. Resolving those issues for the workflow fully maximizes each step taken during the process.

—David Raths

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