Freshman move-in day: It’s hot, you’re hauling boxes into your room, you hope you have a good roommate, you’re worried about your class schedule, you need to get to the bookstore to stock up on required reading, and on and on and on. About the last thing you want to do is stand in line to register your car with public safety.
But at Creighton University (Neb.), the hassles didn’t stop with the move-in day queue. After lining up in the student center over the weekend to complete their vehicle registration form, new students flooded the public safety office the following Monday to buy parking permits. At the same time, faculty and staff were also filling out forms and writing checks for their permits. All of the information had to be entered, by hand, into Creighton’s various computer systems. The entire process took three weeks, required the full-time employment of three temporary staffers, and was mired in paperwork.
“It was time-consuming for everybody,” sums up Mark Panning, director of information technology.
Recognizing the existing process’ inefficiencies, public safety approached Panning’s group—Enterprise Applications, part of the Division of Information Technology (DoIT)—and asked for help. The department split the project into two components, student and staff, and set to work.
Consulting with public safety, payroll, the business office, and other internal stakeholders, Panning’s team developed in-house online solutions to handle vehicle registrations and parking permits. The faculty and staff system came first, in 2011. Paper mailings that instructed employees how to register their cars and buy permits—and also included forms for those tasks—were replaced by emails. In-person applications were replaced by electronic submissions, with permits delivered through campus mail shortly thereafter.
The following year, DoIT implemented its student solution. Students now are emailed reminders with a link to the vehicle registration page, where they can also apply for parking permits.
“Once we had both phases completed,” according to Panning, public safety began “realizing the savings we’ve afforded them without their having to mail all this stuff out and hand-enter it.” Those savings include $1,700 in printing costs and $1,100 in the area of personnel.
Feedback has been enormously positive, he adds. The online system obviates the need for long lines, entering information by hand, and long processing times. For students, a once-onerous task is now simply another step in the routine handling of their accounts. For staff, who often don’t need to change a thing from year to year, “boom—it’s done and they get their permit in the mail in no time at all,” Panning says. “They’re very grateful to have a process that’s much shorter to complete than what it was in the past.”