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Oklahoma Christian University streamlines, saves and serves

University Business, July/August 2012

John Hermes, vice president of information technology for Oklahoma Christian University, knew the school had problems. Despite a reputation as a pioneer in education technology and as a very high-tech university, Oklahoma Christian (OC) was lagging farther and farther behind in its business processes, says Hermes.

Paper files abounded, hugely impacting back-end processes related to student services, such as billing, financial aid award processes and records retention, says Hermes. Because of the amount of paperwork inundating student financial services, misplaced files and documents were a relatively common occurrence. In the meantime, the student growth rate was accelerating, resulting in more records to track; consequently, customer service was sinking.

But Hermes had a vision and believed that enterprise content management (ECM) technology could help deliver it. Focusing his initial efforts on Student Financial Services, he began searching for a solution that would enable staff to achieve their desired objectives, one that would also integrate with their existing line-of-business applications.

The answer? An integration between Laserfiche ECM, LincDoc (the department's eForms tool), Microsoft SharePoint, and Datatel (an ERP system now known as Ellucian). This integration moved Student Financial Services into the 21st century, allowing them to significantly reduce paper and mail while also streamlining business processes. This in turn accelerated financial aid, vastly improved tracking and reporting, all of which led to much higher customer service and student satisfaction.

Some examples of efficiencies achieved through this integration include:

  • Student submission forms are now submitted, tracked and managed electronically. Staff can upload documents and forms to the campus' myOC portal, an online website based on SharePoint. By logging onto their myOC accounts, students can view and complete financial aid documents. Once signed and submitted, Laserfiche Workflow automatically classifies the document and routes it to the appropriate financial aid officer.
  • Counselors can search and retrieve both newly submitted documents and old student records housed in Laserfiche or other systems from within their familiar Datatel Colleague environment.
  • Financial aid counselors can respond immediately to students inquiring about their financial aid status by pulling up their entire files right from their desktops.
  • Management can track employee efficiency, delegate workloads and address underperformance by simply looking at how many documents are in employees' folders, which have been processed and which still need to be processed.

Hermes initially projected a cost savings to the financial aid office of around $23,000. However, the improvements to student financial services were so significant that instead, the department realized $31,000 of hard savings in less than two years.

Currently, integrations have been completed for admissions and accounts payable; Hermes will soon roll out ECM to the Registrar's Office and the Office of Student Life. "We can show others this is something you really need in your office. This will help you in your daily process. This will improve employee morale. This will help you in everything you are trying to do for students."