5 tech suggestions for higher ed institutions in 2017
At EDUCAUSE 2016, I stood in front of a room full of higher education technology professionals. Though I briefly reconsidered, I decided that sometimes a little drama can go a long way. We need to leave conferences and presentations with memorable moments, so I held up a stack of papers. In the other hand, I held a water bottle.
Then, I threatened to pour water all over the documents.
Walk into any office across campus, and you’ll likely see a stack of documents sitting on a desk. They could be I-9s, transcripts, contracts, financial aid paperwork or even spreadsheets that summarize numbers from the 10th of the term. All of this important paperwork that is just one spilled water bottle or bumped cup of coffee away from being permanently ruined.
Why are we living with that kind of risk on campus?
There’s something about water and sunsets
As CIOs gathered at the conference to assemble technology strategies that will elevate their institutions for the next five to 10 years, it seemed shocking that something so trivial, yet potentially devastating, as spilled water remains a problem.
Another issue seemed to be looming large at EDUCAUSE 2016. Throughout the show, we had countless conversations with customers currently using Nolij, which is being sunsetted. These institutions have already scanned and stored important documentation like admission essays, financial aid documents and student transcripts. They have amazing volumes of content already saved digitally — safe from water damage.
However, these leaders now have to forge a new path forward and find different technology to replace their end-of-life system.
I started to think about the IT impact of upgrades and keeping integrations working perfectly. It also made me think about what functionality institutions will need in the coming years — either those that are still dealing with hard copies of precious content or those who invested in enterprise content management (ECM) technology, but are now without a thriving platform because the developer hasn’t kept it current or sunsetted the solution entirely.
Imaging content is not enough. It’s time to expand expectations about the life cycle of content and, more importantly, the data that goes along with it.
My 5 tech suggestions
For higher education institutions looking to decrease paper use and increase student service in 2017, here are my technology suggestions:
1. Technology options, including the cloud and Workday
Higher education institutions should also consider cloud ECM solutions, even if it’s not on their short-term radar. Knowing that it’s an option is a potential game changer. It is for us, and with more than 13 years of cloud deployment experience and well over 4 billion documents stored, the Hyland Cloud is a secure, privately managed, multi-instance cloud hosting architecture fit for institutions of all sizes.
Integration is another major point. No matter what SIS, ERP or CRM a campus uses today, OnBase and the Hyland Cloud interface with every major solution in higher ed — including homegrown. And, if your institution utilizes Workday, we are implementing Workday Finance ourselves and already have OnBase customers in the process of migrating to Workday.
Integrating OnBase with your SIS/ERP consolidates and streamlines your information. It connects critical content with every transaction, ensuring staff is working with the most current, secure information.
2. Workflow management
The right workflow software solution is customizable and automates processes by matching work tasks with the staff that can best complete them.
For example, for transcript processing, after a transcript is electronically captured into OnBase, it is electronically routed to the appropriate people on the staff. Supporting materials — test scores, essays and so forth — follow along in electronic form, making them easily retrievable and eliminating time spent searching for the loose paper documentation.
3. Reporting dashboards
While most institutions already have data warehouses in place, the big question is: Is there monitoring in place around business processes as well? That brings up even more questions:
- How many transcripts are sitting in a queue waiting to be evaluated?
- What does the load-balance look like for admissions counselors or financial aid advisors?
- Can you automatically redistribute work amongst your people to provide top student service?
Reporting dashboards provide users with a self-service reporting tool while continuing to respect database security policies. The solution minimizes delays in decision-making by presenting relevant data for analysis in real-time and maximizes process improvements by highlighting trends and potential bottlenecks across campus, giving you the ability to answer student questions quicker.
4. Records Management
In departments such as human resources, higher ed institutions commonly overlook records management and antiquated methods of handling pertinent documents related to compliance often prevail. Much like when I threatened to pour water all over documents and ruin them, it’s simply a waiting game that can involve steep penalties and a tarnished reputation.
The right records management solution enables users to focus on their primary jobs, not retention requirements or managing staff and faculty folders. You automatically and securely organize records, meeting legal retention requirements and making documentation appropriately discoverable, or destroying it accordingly.
When researching any ECM solutions, look for a vendor with a dedicated team in higher ed that is there to help your institution advance from simply scanning, storing and retrieving.
Look for a robust enterprise information platform that includes workflow and easily expands across the institution to eliminate storage and file cabinets, as well as mitigate any risks of water damaging your important documents.
My goal is to empower higher ed institutions. I want to give them easy access to information that ensures success for students, faculty and staff in whatever way works for each institution.
Those are my five suggestions for 2017. I look forward to talking to you in person about them throughout the coming year.