Colleges and universities nurture innovation and progressive thinking among their students. But when it comes to office procedures, many still rely on decades-old methods.
Post-pandemic, hybrid work has become the norm for staff and students. Yet, paper records like student transcripts, financial aid forms, and compliance documents are still commonplace.
Bridging the technology gap may seem daunting for administrators who have long relied on paper processes. However, software like electronic document management systems (eDMSs) prove the merits of digital transformation.
By streamlining operations, reducing costs, and providing better student experiences, digital document management can make a tremendous impact in higher education.
Let's take a look at four of the biggest benefits of document management software for college and university staff.
1. Shorten Processing Times
In higher education, digital file storage simplifies many complex and lengthy processes.
One example is financial aid approvals. According to a 2020 survey conducted by NASFAA, 43% of financial aid staff said they faced resource shortages, including staff, budgets, and technology. Given this scarcity, processes that draw heavily on resources can’t work in the modern financial aid office.
But teams who use an eDMS can speed up processing times even when resources are limited.
An eDMS houses financial aid records like FAFSA forms and tax returns in one place, making them instantly accessible to staff members. They also make it easy to share documents and approve forms by allowing these actions to take place directly within the platform.
These features help the office cut down processing times. And with hours saved and approval cycles shortened, financial aid staff can focus on higher-value activities like counseling, procedural development, and financial literacy outreach.
2. Simplify Record Management
With a document management system, campuses consolidate records that would typically be housed in multiple locations.
For example, the Office of Student Admissions relies on information from many departments to prepare enrollment packets, including the:
- Financial Aid Office
- Office of Student Affairs
- Housing Office
While manually collecting records from each department might typically take weeks, access to these records is immediate with an eDMS.
Admissions staff can instantly find documents based on keywords via full text search, or they can filter through thousands of records by criteria like file type, student name, document status, or enrollment cycle.
In addition, database updates can occur automatically any time a form or record is updated.
Student information system (SIS) integration allows two-way communication to take place between your eDMS and internal database. This seamlessly creates a single source of truth without errors, duplicated efforts, or time wasted on data validation.
3. Facilitate Collaboration Between Departments
Built-in collaboration tools in a document management system mitigate communication silos in colleges and universities.
In higher education, multiple departments must cooperate to share and confirm information. Comment boxes and sticky notes allow them to do this without the hassle of transporting physical records back and forth.
Take the admissions office and the registrar, for instance. Interdepartmental collaboration is crucial for curriculum management and event coordination, so paper-based processes that hinder communication can affect their ability to make decisions.
An eDMS, however, allows departments to work together easily. While manual processes require teams to meet in person and rely on disjointed communication methods like email, built-in sharing and annotation tools in a digital document management system allow departments to seamlessly collaborate and keep track of feedback in one convenient location.
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4. Ensure Data Safety and Recordkeeping Compliance
Compliance with data security regulations and audit requirements is critical in higher education, but manually managing these standards is a huge draw on resources.
Universities and colleges who implement an electronic file management system, however, don’t need to worry: The software manages these standards for them automatically.
Any filing system suited for use in higher education should offer HIPPA, SOX, GDPR, and FERPA compliance. These standards ensure that sensitive staff, faculty, and student records will be safely stored and indexed for external audits.
Some features of document management software that keep data secure include:
- Role-based permissions to restrict record access based on department or job function.
- Data encryption to protect student data like Social Security numbers or medical information.
- Digital audit trails and version control to track and log all record interactions automatically. This allows administrators to review the history of access and changes, down to the user and time stamp.
- Configurable retention periods that automatically delete files after a set period of time. This helps universities adhere to retention policies and reduce the risk of data breaches.
Giving higher ed staff the technology they need to thrive in their day-to-day both enhances student experiences and demonstrates a commitment to progress for the broader academic community.
For more information on how electronic file management, web forms, and business process automation can help bridge the technology gap in your school or university, schedule a call with a DocuPhase automation consultant today.