Document management software: Helping to “green” higher education

Make no mistake. Higher education institutions are under pressure. There’s pressure to break down information silos and improve efficiency, productivity and service. Then, there’s pressure to make information more secure and immediately available to students, parents, faculty and staff. Of course, don’t forget the increasing pressure to become more environmentally friendly.

In this blog post, we’re going to focus on the latter pressure – environmental, and how technology can help to alleviate it. Specifically, we’re going to look at one technology software suite. Worth noting, though, is that it actually helps to do everything outlined in the first paragraph.

So, what is this Houdini-esque higher education software solution, you ask? It’s enterprise content management, or ECM. You may hear it referred to as document management or imaging and workflow, but for this post, we’ll go with ECM.

At Ohio University (OU), a school very much interested in their environmental impact, ECM quickly became a campus standard. The technology, which electronically connects several departments across the institution (admissions, financial aid, registrar, development and alumni affairs, etc.), eliminated the need for filing cabinets, paper pushing/chasing and storage facilities. It did this, in part, by digitizing and automating key business processes that previously relied on paper.

Edward Newman, recycling and refuse manager for OU, wanted to put those cabinets back to work. In an effort to increase recycling awareness, and to replace the boxes that kept disappearing, he worked with the campus construction shop. The goal was to find new uses for the now empty filing cabinets that once held up to 10,000–12,000 documents. 

What they did was convert the old metal cabinets into recycling bins. By cutting slots in the front of each drawer, Newman and team provide others the opportunity to recycle batteries, CDs, phones, ink-jet cartridges, and compact bulbs. These types of items had been ending up in dumps, rotting.

In “Managing E-waste responsibly,” published by Campus Technology, Newman stated, “We’re painting the cabinets in school colors and putting school logos on them. I’m taking these clunky old things and jazzing them up and giving them new life. They’ll last forever.”

Though no technology is going to provide a paperless office, at least not anytime soon, ECM is very much about having offices with less paper. On the road to greener campuses, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Do you have a good story about ECM technology being used to promote a more sustainable or “green” campus? Please share it with us in the comments section.

Ian Levine

If you've ever worked with the higher education industry, you know they expect vendors to really know their market inside and out. Good thing Ian Levine does. He's Hyland's director of higher education solutions, and has more than a decade of experience in the space. Specifically, he has successfully designed and implemented more than 80 systems and directed 40 other implementations in universities. These impressive stats even got him recommended for the Master of Information Technologies distinction from AIIM International. Want to tap into his expertise? E-mail works best: ian.levine@onbase.com.

1 Response

  1. 05/12/2011

    […] paperless can be a fun process, Edward Newman a recycling manager for OU, though outside the box when he found, “new uses for the now empty filing cabinets that […]

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