Paper-Based Processes are a Pain
As experts in automation, we are well-equipped at building solutions and systems from the ground up for a variety of different companies and organizations. But as parents, few projects are as close to our hearts as helping school districts bring their processes into the 21st century.
One of the big frustrations as a busy parent is that, in this day and age of complete digitization, schools are still relying on paper-based forms and communications throughout the school year.
Parents are Busy Too
You know what we’re talking about: the dreaded 10-12 page registration packet that comes home on the first day of school for each child that is enrolled. This packet requires us to fill out our child’s name, date of birth, address, and other relevant info on EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE. This can take hours if we have multiple kids enrolled in school.
So, at the end of the first day of school, instead of being able to leisurely sit down with your child and ask about their day and experience, we slog through a mountain of paperwork until it’s time to put the kids to bed.
Papers aren’t Childproof
One of the things that schools don't seem to understand is that students are still just kids. They lose things. We’ve all had a crying child who was in danger of missing out on a field trip because they lost or forgot their permission slip.
What if a child loses the form that contains important information regarding their allergies or health condition? If that information doesn't get to the teacher and school nurse, the consequences can be dire.
And what about the dangers of kids losing vital personal information that is filled out on these forms? If a form with their name, address, and birthdate falls out of their backpack, there’s no telling who might stumble across it along the way. These antiquated solutions aren’t only unnecessary; they’re unsafe.
There Has To Be a Better Way
There are plenty of digital solutions out there that can help schools get with the times and replace their forms with paperless alternatives.
The task of automating decades of paper-based communications, systems, and archives can seem quite daunting. School districts are notorious for having to be dragged kicking and screaming into the present day. Truth be told, there are few businesses that still push around as much paper as American school systems.
And, let’s face it, most of the time, district funds are allocated to the forefront of the school battle: putting great teachers into classrooms and making sure that students have the newest curriculum and access to athletic and artistic pursuits. Though certainly sympathetic, these prioritizations often leave little to no wiggle room for administration to make necessary changes to human resources, business administration, finance, record keeping, and other behind-the-scenes operations that keep a district functioning day-to-day.
Automation Can No Longer be Ignored
While we're painfully aware of the struggle with lost permission slips and folders of redundant forms, as a parent, we likely are not familiar with the inefficiency of paperwork on the administrative side.
We likely won't see the five separate signatures needed to approve new hires or the constant shuffling of paperwork throughout the district in order to process simple travel requests or expense reimbursements. Not to mention the usually dingy and dark basement where all of these papers then have to be stored safely for decades. What will your district do if that basement ever floods! Can you imagine parents calling into your high school to get a transcript only to be told it was lost in a flood?
The Importance of a Digital Transformation
The inevitable process of switching these antiquated and frankly unreliable paper-based systems can be unnerving for most school districts. Many school administrators have no idea where to start in order to begin moving their schools into the digital age. This can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed which freezes the process before it even gets off the ground.
However, failing to adapt to the digital age has proven time and again to have dire consequences for schools. Problems arise not only from wasted time and money but also from struggles with lost or damaged files, erroneous documents, a lack of proper oversight of personnel, and a general sense of chaos.
As compliance and privacy regulations become stricter and stricter, this can also lead to a financially dangerous scenario in the form of fines and levies by auditing from local and state agencies. There is even the potential for litigation if a district was found to have been negligent with a student's files or unable to consistently assure the health and safety of their charges.
Lifting the Back-Office Burden
From an administrative standpoint, the possibilities are nearly limitless as lengthy processes are now handled automatically. No more need to manually enter 14,000 timesheets each month for every person in the district to get paid or to juggle paper forms between a half-dozen locations before reimbursing faculty. Hiring processes can be accelerated from weeks to days, getting your much-needed personnel in place quickly so you can meet classroom and testing objectives.
Meanwhile, fully integrated Document Management can serve as a cloud-based repository for all forms and communications, protecting district finances and student records alike. No more losing priceless documents to fires or flooding damage.
Making Things Easier for Parents
Parents could be capable of receiving field trip notifications via email or online portal. That means multiple reminders alongside a simple digital signature of permission forms. No more lost authorization slips that leave a child sitting back at school while everyone else gets to go to the museum.
You can even show proof of background checks on all school volunteers, giving us additional peace of mind that our child is with someone safe and that the school has done its due diligence in vetting any outsiders who come in contact with the students.
Enrollment paperwork can also be digitally sent to parents. These yearly forms can then be quickly and easily filled out and securely submitted, only requiring changes of information to be updated. Plus your school administration employees would certainly love to avoid manually filing all the stacks of start-of-year papers every year.
DocuPhase Will Get You There
We are here to hold your hand every step of the way, offering truly configurable, personalized, and budget-friendly automation solutions, along with innovative methods and integration to get you up to speed as quickly as possible.
We know the process of going paperless can be scary, but why put it off any longer? Book a demo to learn more from our automation consultants or read about Olympia School District's records disaster and their revolutionary transformation upon partnering with DocuPhase.