Document management: the unsung hero in higher education’s disaster recovery toolkit

Most college and university IT departments get it. Document management – or enterprise content management (ECM), if you prefer – reduces paper and costs, increases efficiency and offers history and tracking features for compliance purposes.

But today, that seems to be about all they’re thinking about. I know the economy’s still playing catch up, so the focus is more on technology’s immediate cost savings. But wouldn’t an IT staffer or business analyst lobbying for this newfangled content management product want to communicate every possible way to use it? I think the obvious answer is “yes.” To help make their argument a little stronger, here’s one way that ECM should be used in higher education that’s too often forgotten: disaster recovery.

The fact that it’s overlooked is especially interesting, given that according to EDUCAUSE’s Top 10 IT Issues, business continuity and disaster recovery have consistently made the list for the past five years. It almost implies that while IT know these two issues are important, they don’t know which tools are best to solve them.

I don’t know about you, but a real example always helps me better understand how a particular technology can be used to fix a problem. On that note, here’s a short story from Syracuse University.

Syracuse had the smarts to include ECM up front as part of their “enterprise business continuity strategy.” In layman’s terms, that means ECM is a tool Syracuse uses to make sure it can still operate and offer services even if there’s a disaster. It’s a good thing, too, since this past December a noon fire chased students and staff from the University’s international services center.  

The incident happened the week before SU’s holiday break – right when 100 international students were getting ready to travel home. It wouldn’t have been a problem, except that the fire prevented anyone from entering the building. And, those students needed certain documents with an authorized signature to return to the U.S. – which, of course, were located precisely in that building.

As corny as it is, ECM really saved the day. Because SU had previously scanned all these documents into their ECM solution, they just had to setup a few computers with scanners in an alternate location to print the paperwork students needed to travel. So other than the fact that the building was in flames, the biggest interruption to the students’ plans was the change in building location.

Like I mentioned earlier, IT folks need to get their hands on any potential savings or benefit of a software product to get the blessing to buy it. Disaster recovery is just one. If you have any less-than-traditional way you’re using ECM (in higher education, or not), the comment feature is always on.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like...