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Models of Efficiency

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Many of Pepperdine University’s administrative offices are located on a campus that sits on a steep, picturesque hilltop in the Southern California beach town of Malibu. Perhaps because of the hike required to reach the offices, intracampus mail delivery is a challenge. And because the offices rely heavily on intracampus couriers for circulation of university paperwork needing signatures—coupled with the possibility of these documents sitting untouched in an inbox—it is no surprise that gathering signatures could take weeks.

As long as there are assignments for college students to research and write, it’s likely there will be copiers and printers to help. Good news for paper and copier companies, for sure, but bad news for institutions such as expansive Houston Community College, at least until recently. HCC’s six colleges and 27 sites allow it to educate more than 70,000 students a semester, but without centralized print and copy management solutions, efficiency lagged severely.

Admissions/Enrollment Management

Historically, Western Michigan University’s 12 on-staff recruiters could visit as many as 40 or 50 high schools in a week and collect up to 1,000 paper cards filled with prospective students’ contact information. Due to poor handwriting or other errors, not all the information was entered accurately. Then, five weeks could pass before students received any kind of follow-up communication from the university.

Streamlining the awarding and processing of student loans—Federal Perkins as well as institutional loans—began at the Illinois Institute of Technology with a simple question and a frustrating answer. “It started because I asked, ‘What is the process?’” recalls Jackie Anderson, associate director of student accounting. “No one really knew.”

Instrumental in implementing the new online payments system were  (left to right) Allison Foltz, Mike Boolukos and Melody Baker from the  information technology office.

Cash flow is as important to nonprofits as it is to corporate entities. That’s something officials at Salisbury University in Maryland had in mind when they engaged outside help several years ago to provide students with online payment gateways, tuition payment plans and electronic bills.

The steps resulted in increased efficiencies and more timely payment. But with enrollment up a third over the last decade—and no increase in accounts receivable staffing—officials knew it was time to take the next step.

Fifteen-minute, biweekly “scrum” meetings allow colleagues to quickly exchange necessary updates before getting back to business on project completion.

For years, The Extended Campuses of Northern Arizona University used a traditional marketing model. The four-person marketing team would create an annual budget and tie its goals and specific projects to it. Freelancers and local advertising agencies provided support for the 50 or so marketing pieces produced throughout the year.

That model worked fine until around 2010, says Ann Marie deWees, director of strategic marketing. “Then things began to change with increasing digital expectations.”

Generating lab inspection reports for a campus used to take more than a week, but that time has been reduced to 1.5 business days.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Environmental, Health and Safety Office is responsible for inspecting facilities and laboratories across eight campuses in the Texas A&M University System.

A bookstore renovation gave officials the chance to reimagine how  technical support is provided to students and make changes for the better.

Tech support is rarely fun—even, apparently, if it’s a lot closer than an overseas call center. Despite 24/7 help desk availability and in-person technical consulting, Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD) staff at the University of Pittsburgh believed their services were being underutilized by the main campus’ 26,000-plus students.

Customization and automation are key elements  of the new administrative system developed for the Distance Learning Center, located in Ullsvik Hall.

In the past, University of Wisconsin-Platteville staff had to manually enter the records of any student pursuing an online degree. With more than 2,500 students enrolled, this was no easy feat—especially considering staff also had to manually enter course registration, financial aid and even basic contact information. This effort required approximately 500 hours of staff time each semester—or 1,500 hours a year—to accommodate the university’s three-semester system.

Picture the amount of paper associated with almost 42,000 travel reports and 300,000 procurement card transactions. That’s how many expense-related documents the University of Colorado’s four campuses generate in a single year. Besides the sheer challenge of filing and storing so many receipts, a few years ago there also were major hurdles for reconciling and auditing.

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