University Business Magazine Honors College of the Desert For Being a "Model of Efficiency"

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College of the Desert is one of eight colleges and universities nationwide being honored by University Business magazine in its Winter 2014 “Models of Efficiency” national recognition program.

I firmly believe that what Laserfiche delivered not only exceeded my expectations but fulfilled this vision that we could be like a Google or Yahoo! and use the information around us in an efficient way without having to hire staff to do it all

College of the Desert is one of eight colleges and universities nationwide being honored by University Business magazine in its Winter 2014 “Models of Efficiency” national recognition program. Sponsored by Higher One, a leader in providing financial services and data analytics to more than 1,900 college and university campuses across the U.S., the Models of Efficiency program recognizes innovative approaches for streamlining higher education operations through technology and/or business process improvements.

“Student records can be cumbersome when handled incorrectly, which is unfortunate considering their importance,” says University Business senior editor Tim Goral. “College of the Desert found a successful system to handle its document flow, improving user experience for both staff and faculty.”

Document management woes are frequently cited by higher education administrators looking to increase efficiency. Even so, the numerous flaws in the system used by the admissions and records department at College of the Desert, a California community college, were something else.

Half a dozen faculty and staff might end up handling a single document; lost materials and angry follow-up phone calls were commonplace. Documents had to be manually scanned and attached to student records; an incorrect label could get an item misplaced forever. And there was no integration with COD’s student information system, requiring staffers to conduct multiple log-ins to solve student issues.

“With all of those things combined, I knew we had an issue,” says Annebelle Nery, the college’s executive dean of institutional of institutional effectiveness, educational services and planning. “It was cumbersome. It was taking too long. We weren’t serving students to the best of our ability.”

Administrators went searching for a solution, and they set her sights high. They wanted a system that could not only automate workflows but also mine data from the documents entered into the system. After an RFP process, they selected Laserfiche, whose enterprise content management tools have given COD digitized record keeping, greater transparency and much more integration.

Laserfiche allows a student to access forms and applications 24 hours a day, seven days a week, submit them electronically and upload any supporting documents. It attaches those materials automatically to the student’s record and emails students with the status of their requests at every step of the way. And thanks to Laserfiche’s integration with the college’s ERP, Colleague by Ellucian, staff can offer assistance without having to go digging through multiple systems.

Nery knew that she had a success on her hands by the silence of the system’s users.
“It was relatively quiet,” she says of the rollout. “People just used the forms and submitted them electronically.”

Time savings in processing applications and petitions have been significant–a reduction of 40 percent. Because of the automatic notifications, email and phone inquiries are significantly down. And the student worker who formerly scanned inbound documents has been freed up to take on other tasks.

As happy as she is with the college’s newfound efficiency, what has Nery especially excited is Laserfiche’s ability to take information from transcripts and applications and use it to place students in the appropriate classes and recommend services to be delivered to them. She compares it to the way Internet companies latch onto keywords in searches and emails and suggest products and services users might be interested in. That aspect of the system is not operational yet, Nery says, but it has performed well in testing.

“I firmly believe that what Laserfiche delivered not only exceeded my expectations but fulfilled this vision that we could be like a Google or Yahoo! and use the information around us in an efficient way without having to hire staff to do it all,” she says. “That’s my favorite part.”

In addition to College of the Desert, Winter 2014 Models of Efficiency honorees include: University of Montana (Missoula, Mo.); Marist College (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.); Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, N.Y.); Wright State University (Dayton, Ohio); Western Iowa Tech Community College (Sioux City, Iowa); University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Ala.); and Portland State University (Portland, Ore.).

The Models of Efficiency program wraps up this year after five successful years. It has been sponsored by Higher One, which offers a wide array of technological services on campus, ranging from streamlining the institution’s performance analytics and financial aid refund processes to offering students innovative banking services, tuition payment plans and the basics of financial management. Higher One works closely with colleges and universities by allocating resources more efficiently to provide a higher quality of service and using data to impact success with a focus on empowering students.

“The Winter 2014 Models of Efficiency honorees turned campus problems into innovative solutions that better serve students and faculty,” says Andrew Crawford, senior vice president of Client Services & Operations at Higher One. “We are pleased to recognize their efforts alongside University Business.”
About University Business

University Business is the leading publication for senior managers at colleges and universities throughout the United States, reaching 75,000 leaders who manage enrollment, technology, business, finance, facilities and academic affairs. More information is available at http://www.universitybusiness.com.

About Higher One

Higher One partners with colleges and universities to lower their administrative costs and to improve graduation rates. It provides a broad array of payment, refund disbursement and data analytics and management tools to institutions that help them save money and enhance institutional effectiveness. And for students, it offers financial literacy programs and convenient, flexible and affordable transaction options to help them manage their finances. Higher One is a leader in higher education, supporting more than 1,900 schools and 13 million enrolled students. More information about Higher One can be found at http://www.higherone.com.

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Andrea LePain
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