E-forms simplify, streamline and accelerate campus processes
What are key challenges institutions are facing in achieving efficiencies through technology initiatives?
There are three challenges. The first is user adoption, and the technology is good only if your users are using it.
The key reason for low user adoption is that the technology is very complicated. That is the second challenge. Technology should not be complicated. If a technology requires substantial training—more than just a walkthrough—you need to redesign the user interface. IT budgets are tight, and IT staff is stretched thin dealing with specialized and complex technology.
The third challenge is interoperability. How integrated are solutions among technology applications? The current structure in higher education is very siloed. Admissions is not talking to Financial Aid or Academic Advising; you’re all working on the same student, but you don’t share records with each other.
What specific role can e-forms have in increasing efficiency in these departments?
A lot of e-forms are simply digital translations of paper forms. However, Laserfiche forms act as a process manager that addresses all three challenges head-on. If you can use Amazon.com, you can use Laserfiche forms, because the e-form interface is very intuitive. And it is integrated with other applications to facilitate data exchange across departments.
Laserfiche has built a business process library with more than 60 workflow templates, covering functions such as expense reimbursement, job requisition and grant management. This is a way to conserve IT resources and create faster impact on operations with workflow automation.
What automation services can e-forms provide?
E-forms are being implemented across all functional units on the typical higher ed campus—admissions, transcripts, student records management, class registration, major/minor change requests, adding or dropping classes. Anything you can think of that starts with a form, you can start with an e-form.
Laserfiche forms may also be used to streamline faculty tenure evaluations and staff onboarding procedures. We collect and track all actions along the way, so we can aggregate operational data and turn it into a dashboard and identify opportunities for greater efficiencies. We can pinpoint how long it takes to collect documents; how long on average it takes a certain person and a whole team to review materials; how many admissions packages are reviewed on time or late.
What are the best practices institutions need to follow as they strive for automating as many tasks as possible?
Find low-hanging fruit in a paper-driven department with enthusiastic business users or a leader you can partner with. Financial Aid and Admissions are popular starting points because they are already proponents of paperless operations. Human Resources, invoicing and purchase orders are good places to implement the technology and see a fast return on investment.
Use e-forms for vendor management, so vendors can post and track invoices on a vendor portal through the university website. It’s a much cleaner, more efficient way of managing vendors than handling mailed-in paper invoices that go to different people for different tasks.
Remember that students we serve today are a technology generation. The current higher ed service delivery and the infrastructure that supports its core mission will need to adapt quickly to ensure continued student success.
This piece was prepared by University Business for Laserfiche. For more information, visit www.laserfiche.com/solutions/higher-education
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