Colleges and universities—awash in paper and digital documents, forms and files—are increasingly adopting technology to pull it all together, yielding big savings in time and money. The technology, called enterprise content management, or ECM, enables users to capture, manage and securely store all manner of business materials, everything from scanned paper documents, to Web forms, audio files, e-mails and more. Even more significantly, ECM automates the document-driven tasks that keep colleges and universities running.
At Laserfiche, the leading provider of ECM software, higher education is one of the fastest-growing segments of its business, according to Linda Ding, the company’s education program strategist.
"ECM technology today offers an array of tools to help universities and colleges streamline the way they manage all the content generated on campus. At the same time, it provides the flexibility for each service unit to access information easily and operate in their individual business environment," Ding explains.
Without the proper tools, content management can become costly and unwieldy, exerting a high financial toll on colleges and universities. In addition to tangible expenses associated with paper, storage and mailing, there are intangible costs: time wasted on sorting, filing and retrieving paper documents; delayed business processing because of missing information; or fines incurred due to faulty records management or security breaches. Schools that turn to ECM generate benefits quickly.
- Using Laserfiche’s ECM software suite, the University of Utah reduced student financial aid processing from six weeks to two.
- At University of Southern California (USC), the Office of the Provost is using Laserfiche ECM to centralize documents used by faculty members who are spread out over 17 schools and colleges, standardizing records while meeting each school’s unique filing systems and applications requirements.
- Dalhousie University Medical School uses Laserfiche ECM to provide speedy access to documents and employee records, and to help the school meet provisions of Canada’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The need for schools to improve efficiencies could become even more compelling under a proposal by President Obama to make federal funding for higher education contingent on how well a university can stabilize its tuition and student graduation rates. But even without that incentive, the primary benefit of enterprise content management is readily apparent: at a time when every college and university is facing increasing financial pressures, the need to stabilize costs is paramount.