Managing Your Documents
- By Ellen Kollie
- April 1st, 2006
Forms, documents and paper — it’s impossible to get along without them on campus. But it is possible to manage them. And the benefits are numerous: cost savings, efficiency and organization are just some. Two — document storage and document printing — are proving their worth over and over again. Here’s more about each.
Document storage systems are described by the industry’s latest buzzword: ECM (Enterprise Content Management) On Demand. It means that, as long as you have a computer and Internet access, you can access the documents you need from anywhere in the world in just seconds.
Document storage is a system of translating paper files into electronic images, which are stored on servers and accessed as needed. Imagine the space savings, both in the office and warehouse! Imagine the convenience of retrieving a file by typing a keyword as opposed to hunting through a filing cabinet or going to a remote site and sifting through boxes!
Since you’re already imagining, think what this can do for your human resources department. Or student records. Or the student health center. Or the — well, you get the idea, and it’s limited only by your imagination.
A typical document storage solution has three components. First, there’s the capture product. This allows you to scan a document and assign it a name and classification.
Second is the management component.This is a software application that allows you to type in a keyword, says Sean Morris, Denver-based Digitech Systems national client development manager.It will pull back a results set of documents that exist in the electronic filing cabinet.
Third is storage, an off-site content management service. Administrators often do not have a budget for a capital outlay of software, says Morris. So we offer it. For a monthly fee, they have access to all the features and functionality of the document management system.
To speed up its enrollment process, Clemson University implemented Hyland Software, Inc.’s OnBase imaging system to scan documents as soon as they receive them and making them available in an online archive. One of the primary goals of the imaging project is to create a single electronic file for each student that will contain various documents, including transcripts and letters of reference. The university plans to create a similar master file for each employee. It also has begun converting research grant documents into electronic files so researchers can get a quicker start on their projects.
While Clemson is improving access to student applications, it is also taking steps to shorten the timeline for hiring employees. The HR department is scanning employment applications and position descriptions, and automatically indexing the documents via OnBase. After the employment applications are indexed, an e-mail containing a link to the documents is sent to hiring personnel for their review.
The archiving system Clemson University is implementing for student, employee and other files provides university personnel online access to documents, whether they're working on campus or off-site. The system also offers several security features to prevent documents from being accessed by unauthorized users.
Besides security, another huge benefit of any document storage system is its inherent disaster recovery capability. If, for some reason, your campus should experience a disaster, your documents are secure, which can help you recover more quickly.
But there are other benefits, too. Administrators don’t need to purchase additional PCs or file servers. They don’t need to hire people to manage document storage. It can save time and reduce labor costs. It increases productivity.
For more information and advice on ECM On Demand systems, the ECM Association can be found online at www.aiim.org.
Print management is a system of managing print output related to photocopiers, laser printers and more. Let’s imagine again. Imagine printing only what’s needed, when it’s needed. Oh, the cost savings! Imagine an effective system of charging each department for its printing. Oh, how efficient!
Plantation, Fla.-based Equitrac Corp. is a leader in print management. The firm’s solution, called Equitrac Express, is designed to reduce printing and copying expenses, recover costs of documents that are printed on behalf of students and professors (a.k.a. charge back), minimize waste and environmental impact, and provide accountability and controls. Whew!
We help administrators simplify the IP administration of their printer fleet, giving them tools to manage more efficiently, says Chris Wyszkowski, Equitrac’s vice president of Product Marketing and Management. We do this in conjunction with two key technologies. The first is a campus card solution. The second is photocopiers.
One benefit of any solid print management system is that it can be tailored to meet a campus’ specific needs because the different pieces of technology can be used in combination or individually to achieve many benefits.
For example, at one institution, photocopiers were outfitted with the hardware and software needed so that students could pay for copies with their campus cards. Likewise, a staff member could use the copiers by keying in his ID and PIN. A single-function device could be used by any constituent, Wyszkowski points out. No longer did administration have to say, ‘This copier can only be used by such-and-such a group.’
Similarly, at another institution, desktop printing was simplified through the ability to loop any printing job to any printer. Anyone can print into the system from the desktop, the residence hall, the classroom, says Wyszkowski. That person then goes to any printer, identifies himself and picks up his print job. There are no more mixed networks of students and labs and individual printers managed independently. Plus, it reduces waste because the jobs aren’t printed until they’re picked up.
To Buy or Not to Buy?
If you’re interested in document storage and document printing solutions for your campus, do your research carefully, as it may be difficult to compare apples to apples. Be prepared to ask a lot of questions. Here are 10 for starters, but be sure to add your own.
1. How long will it take to implement the system?
2. How long will it be before we see a return on our investment?
3. How are the costs specifically broken down?
4. What are the system’s hidden costs?
5. What are the system’s upfront costs?
6. What are the system’s ongoing costs?
7. How is your system different from you competitors’?
8. Who will be our point of contact with your firm when we have challenges and questions?
9. How much training will we receive — and how often?
10. Can we start small — say, in one department — and grow the system through other departments?
Any system is going to require an investment of time and money. The good news is that the right system can help you achieve cost savings, space savings, accountability, efficiency and organization.
Kansas State University Partners to Save Postage
Administrators at Kansas State University (KSU) in Manhattan are partnering with the State of Kansas to achieve presorted mail discounts.
After the United States Postal Service began offering discounts for presorted mail, the central mail operation in Kansas’ state capital, Topeka, purchased a Multi-Line Optical Character Reader (MLOCR). This meant that department could offer the same services as a presort bureau.
KSU administrators, wanting to take advantage of the presorted mail discount, but not able to afford a MLOCR, learned that the state was looking for customers to use its MLOCR.
At KSU, the central mail operation isn’t responsible for bulk mailing — Printing Services is, says Loleta Sump, KSU’s facilities support services manager. Our central mail operation simply didn’t have a mechanism to be a lot of help to our customers — the different departments on campus. We explored possibilities that would allow us to assist them. Partnering with the state just seemed like a natural fit.
Our challenge, then, was to achieve a discount for desktop mail, says Sump. To do it in a limited volume, we educated the different departments on how to correctly prepare mail.
Once the mail is prepared, our courier service drives it to the state (an hour away) to capture the savings, Sump says. A side benefit is that the courier service brings back to Manhattan the state’s business-related mail.
The biggest benefit of our partnership is the postage savings to our university departments, says Sump. The program doesn’t have a down side. Our customers get postage savings. The delivery objectives of mail are not impacted. In fact, delivery is probably improved because desktop mail is prepared so that, when it hits the mail distribution center in Topeka, it’s already ready to go to next step — it doesn’t even have to go inside the building.
So far, Sump says, the volumes and postage discounts have provided us with a service that we can accomplish without losing any money.