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How Enterprise Content Management Can Get Everyone on the Same Page

by Andrew Daniel

Paper documents are becoming an achilles heel to efficient data management for K-12 schools and higher ed institutions — making business process automation essential.

For K-12 school districts and higher education institutions, stagnant budgets and increasing requirements have made “do more with less” the mantra that drives their day-to-day administrative operations.

Considering the operational costs of paper documents — the personnel, time, space and equipment to manage and store them, as well as the possibility of paper being lost or destroyed — it’s clear why paper has become an obvious target for administrators looking to reduce the burden. Student and employee forms, as well as other content still pose challenges that stymie their ability to more efficiently capture and manage.

Today, educational institutions are expanding their paperless initiatives by turning to new business process technologies such as enterprise content management (ECM) to help consolidate documents and content of all types, as well as streamline processes, save money, and serve their students, staff and communities.

A lifeline in a deluge of disparate data

K-12 school districts and higher education institutions often rely on a variety of software systems for a host of operational processes including HR, finance, student records and teacher contract management. Consequently, this results in a flood of disparate data from a variety of systems, such as ERP, SIS and LMS, that may be stored locally or in the cloud. Through the use of business process automation solutions such as ECM, a single document repository helps consolidate content and data, eliminating the need to input the same information into multiple systems and reducing the risk for inaccurate data.

For the University of West Alabama, that single-source content repository has been key to helping reduce the onslaught of student paperwork generated by burgeoning enrollment numbers. The school offers four levels of degrees, so a student earning an associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree could accumulate a massive student record based on application records, financial aid forms, transcripts, alumni data, etc.

The school’s streamlining process begins with automatically creating an electronic student file when prospective students submit information for admissions. Based on security, departments from across the [...]

Welcome to Etrieve | New Customer Spotlight

by Hannah Goodwin

Wow! Here we are already a quarter of the way through 2017. It’s been an exciting couple of months, so we wanted to take the time to share some updates.

First of all, we wanted to extend a warm welcome to our latest Etrieve customers: Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Spartanburg Community College, North Iowa Area Community College and Carteret Community College.

We are so thrilled for each of these schools to start leveraging the Etrieve platform. Not only are we looking forward to building wonderful relationships with our new customers, we are equally excited to see our existing customers making the move to Etrieve. Each of these schools are looking to further increase efficiencies across their institutions by leveraging the fully browser-based platform, and it is extremely rewarding for our team to see this happening so quickly.

At Softdocs, our customers are more than just clients. They are like family and we wouldn’t have it any other way. With every new opportunity, we look to grow our partnerships with these institutions. As we welcome these new opportunities, please keep in mind that our team doesn’t disappear after implementation; we are always available, whether it be on-site or a quick call away. We pride ourselves in being accessible, responsive and thorough.

At the end of the day, we are just happy to help institutions streamline the way they work with students and employees, and focus on the things that matter.

Again, welcome to Softdocs and get ready to experience the next generation of paperless!

5 College and University Best Practices for Record Management

by Andrew Daniel

Where to start and what to consider in developing policies that can help an institution with record management and security.

The continuous uptick of information and data flooding educational institutions shows no signs of easing up. With increasing use of technology platforms, it’s no surprise that institutions are desperate to manage the escalating flow of information. A key component to managing the inflow of records is to manage the outflow, in this case, record retention.

Increasing regulations and legislation from the state and federal level have also started to ensure that vigilance and retention policies aren’t optional. In addition to legal requirements, relevance and need also come in to play as it relates to retention policies, making it necessary to take a more global approach by developing a record management process based on the entire data lifecycle.

With many institutions making the move to electronic content management, taking that global approach is easier than ever. However, policies for retention and destruction of records must begin with policies on how to capture, organize and use records, whether they’re electronic or paper-based.

This quick-start guide offers an overview of where to start and what to consider in developing policies that can help an institution manage security and information flow.

1. Get Support

Effective record management starts at the top; that means an institution’s leadership has to understand the need for record management, put support behind it and make their support known. In a time where record retention can be handled automatically through the use of technology, resistance to comply is reduced. With the right backing, support to make sure policies are implemented, along with a willingness to work together, will follow.

2. Develop a Plan

Like any operational challenge, managing records and their lifecycle has a greater likelihood of moving from “problem” to “solution” with a plan. Rather than taking the “save everything” approach, digging into the work of developing a strategy gives personnel a roadmap to follow.

A retention policy also reduces risks. As the volume of retained records grows, so do legal risks—holding on to information longer than mandated time periods and deleting or destroying [...]

Top 5 Considerations When Upgrading Your ECM

by Ashley Bennett

Whether you are completing a total replacement of your ECM solution due to an end of life announcement or simply upgrading your existing platform, it may be time to assess the state of your content management and workflow implementation. While most institutions do regular maintenance on their applications, many overlook the fact that business processes and requirements change, and student and employee demands evolve. These larger scale upgrades to your existing software or conversions to new systems can be a great opportunity to explore those potential changes.

Here are just a few considerations to keep in mind during the process:

Pinpoint holes in your current processes – Are you taking advantage of this opportunity to analyze ways to improve your current business processes? Evaluating your filing structures and workflows will require effort, but will have a tremendous long-term impact on your institution. Don’t assume that everything will be the same. People and processes change, technology evolves and new opportunities exist to improve outdated ways of doing things. Be open to potential changes that will allow you to capitalize on these improvements. Avoid silo deployment– Are there ways to expand your implementation to more departments? Planning for an enterprise-wide deployment of the system will mitigate the chances of a fractured institution, with various systems lacking integration. Having a plan in place for deploying across the enterprise at a reasonable pace will also help to unify your institution and eliminate the risk of excluding any of your departments. Focus on budgetary planning– Budget and timing may not allow you to do everything you want to at once, so staggering the deployment across multiple budget years is sometimes the best option. Mapping out a 5-year plan with a cost breakdown will help you better understand the most cost-effective deployment options. Additionally, with cloud deployments increasing, institutions are now exploring options outside of the traditional on-prem models. Listen to your business users– Does your plan fit most of your users’ current and future needs? Don’t forget about including your end users in your planning. Their input will help ease the transition, especially if they are excited about possible improvements [...]

Softdocs helps Middlesex Community College move toward goal of self-service paperless campus

by Andrew Daniel

Etrieve Enterprise Content Management Platform to Improve Productivity Across Institution’s Bedford and Lowell, Mass. Campuses

In an effort to give self-service capabilities to students and reduce paper touchpoints between offices at its two campuses, Middlesex Community College (MCC) and Softdocs today announced the successful deployment of Etrieve by Softdocs, an enterprise content management, e-forms and workflow platform. Bridging operations including financial aid, admissions and enrollment management between two campuses in Lowell and Bedford, Mass., MCC required a solution that could digitize processes and alleviate the growing amount of paperwork.

“Up until now, all of our business processes have relied on an intensive amount of paper and multiple touchpoints. After a comprehensive business process review, we determined Softdocs was the right partner based on its education focus and willingness to work with us to address our challenges,” said Scott O’Neil, MCC’s Assistant Dean, Enrollment Management. “Following the deployment of Etrieve Content in December, our staff is already seeing a return in terms of increased productivity and less time spent retrieving paper records. Regardless of technical experience, each staff member has been able to easily utilize Softdocs’ web-based interface and access student documents from their desktops.”

In the late spring, Softdocs will deploy its Etrieve Forms and Flow solutions, enabling students and administrators to access, track and complete web-based e-forms from any device, significantly decreasing time to completion and increasing efficiency. This will ultimately support the college’s goal of increasing the persistence, retention and completion rates of its students. MCC will also implement Etrieve throughout its Finance and HR operations later this year.

The Etrieve platform offers ERP-integrated applications that store and organize content, as well as redefine common business processes, reducing the need for paper and improving productivity across the entire organization. For more information, please visit softdocs.com.

My Infatuation with Integration

by Robert Gunning

It’s that time of year again. Love is in the air and I’m more in love now than ever before.

You remember last year when I confessed my love for Etrieve Flow? I cast no doubts about how happy Etrieve Flow made me. Its ability to configure both simple and complex workflows left me speechless.

Now I’m here to tell you there’s another love in my life. I know it’s wrong to be pining over another while I’m still madly in love with Etrieve Flow, just wait until you hear more about Etrieve Integrations.

I know you’re thinking, “What could possibly be so great about Etrieve Integrations that you would cheat on Etrieve Flow?” Well, let me attempt to explain.

Fluid interactions with the database. You want to search for a name and have your results filter as you type? No problem! Etrieve Integrations can query the database as you type. Your query can include ID as well, so your search can span multiple items. Flexible queries. So you think you’re stuck using a simple select statement? Not in Etrieve Integrations. Supply a join query or call a stored procedure. There’s no limit to what queries can be called in Etrieve Integrations. Works seamlessly with Etrieve Flow. Use Etrieve Integrations within your workflow in order to have data on your form determine where your next route will go. Say you have a department or location drop-down on your form and you don’t want to have to configure your workflow for every possible selection outcome. You can use a Conditional Actor in Etrieve Flow that will utilize Etrieve Integrations to query a table that will make the determination on where to workflow your form.

So you can clearly see my dilemma – how could you possibly choose only one when you have options like these? Loving both is so wrong, it’s right!

Softdocs Reaches Milestone as Education Enterprise Content Management Leader with 2016 Achievements

by Andrew Daniel

New Etrieve Platform Product Innovations, Industry Accolades, and Nearly 35 Percent Employee Growth Among Successes

Education-focused enterprise content management, e-forms and workflow solutions provider Softdocs today celebrated its 2016 successes, including more than a one-third growth in its workforce and continued year-over-year annual revenue growth. Other notable achievements included maintaining its 99 percent client retention rate and the rollout of its entire Etrieve platform, including the launch of the Etrieve Forms Builder, via a new cloud-based deployment model.

“2016 was a pivotal year for Softdocs as we expanded our workforce with highly talented and knowledgeable professionals in the software, enterprise content management and education sectors to meet the growing needs for our Etrieve platform,” said Mike Murphy, CEO and Co-Founder, Softdocs. “As we continue to innovate and offer increased accessibility, we look forward to working closely with higher education institutions and school districts to improve productivity, as well as reduce strain on their operations, resources and budget while helping them on their road to a paperless environment.”

The Etrieve platform received a number of industry accolades in 2016 including being recognized as making a positive difference in education with the Readers’ Choice Top 100 Product Award by District Administration. School Planning & Management and College Planning & Management also acknowledged Softdocs’ Etrieve platform in their 2016 New Product of the Year Awards.

On the product side, Softdocs completed the launch of their fully browser-based Etrieve platform that includes Etrieve Content, Forms and Flow, as well as the Etrieve Forms Builder that allows for the user-friendly creation, modification and management of dynamic HTML forms. They closed out the year with the announcement of Etrieve Cloud, which brings increased accessibility to the entire Etrieve platform through a cloud-based deployment model.

The Etrieve platform offers ERP-integrated applications that store and organize content, as well as redefine common business processes, reducing the need for paper and improving productivity across the entire organization. For more information, please visit softdocs.com.

See the published press release here.

 

The Move to the Cloud

by Jennifer Wilson

The concept of ‘cloud’ has taken over how we operate personally. From backing up phones to accessing multimedia, cloud-based technology is all around us in our daily lives. For many of us, we trust the concept of the cloud even if we don’t totally grasp it. That same trust is being brought into the workplace. As more on-premises solutions, like Etrieve, are being made available through cloud-based deployment options, colleges, universities and school districts are looking at the potential for cloud to transform their IT infrastructure and the way their employees and students communicate and work.

As we began to gain traction with our announcement of Etrieve Cloud, I started to dig a little deeper into how the education industry specifically was responding to cloud technology. In a recent article in EdTech Magazine regarding higher education trends in 2017, cloud remains a primary investment for institutions this year, with 81% of IT leaders in the industry stating they will spend more on cloud technologies. And what’s driving this need? In reality, some of the same comforts we find in our personal use of cloud are also appealing from a professional perspective…security, cost and simplicity.

Security: With all the obvious players like Microsoft, Amazon, Google and IBM in the mix, institutions are finding that they trust the big guys to handle their data more than they trust themselves. And rightly so. Higher education actually accounts for 17% of all reported data breaches, second to the healthcare industry. Given the amount of personal data a university holds, it should not be startling that institutions would be a prime target. Schools and IT staff are recognizing that data security is of the utmost importance and cloud-based initiatives may be best to assist with this.

Price: The upfront cost of traditional on-prem technology deployments can be a significant investment and commitment. Cloud can help alleviate some of this by offering a more subscription-based model. Additionally, hardware, security and disaster recovery costs are cut significantly. Cloud implementations allow for fully-hosted solutions that require no server hardware, releases and roll-outs are automatically maintained and security is actually increased. Many are seeing [...]

Welcome to Etrieve!

by Hannah Goodwin

With a new year comes resolutions, but often when planning for the year ahead we lose sight of what we have already accomplished. After such a momentous year, we wanted to take time to reflect on the successes of the past year.

Launching Etrieve, our true all-in-one platform for content management, e-forms and workflow, was definitely one of the highlights of the last year. We are lucky to have such a brilliant development team to bring this idea to fruition. In addition, our professional services and support teams have really gone the extra mile supporting new and existing implementations and projects.

And speaking of customers, we wanted to extend a warm welcome to our newest Etrieve users! Glen Oaks Community College, Aiken County Schools, Saint Leo University, Cullman City Schools, Florence School District, Ben Hill County Schools and Coweta County Schools began making the leap to Etrieve last month.

With the recent announcement of Etrieve Cloud, our cloud-based deployment option, 2017 is shaping up to be a great one. The complete Etrieve platform is available on-premises or in the cloud, providing institutions with deployment options that best fit their budget, resource and operational needs. We are looking forward to welcoming many more, both new and old customers, to the Etrieve family in the coming months.

And don’t forget…this year we are so excited to be hosting Bridge, our annual user conference, in our very own backyard! From October 10-13, we will be holding Bridge at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. We are going on one year of us moving into our new headquarters, and hosting Bridge in Columbia will be the perfect opportunity to share our space and city with our customers, both old and new.

Not only is Bridge an opportunity to take a deeper look at our solutions through boot camps and sessions, it is also a time to put a face to the name and simply get to know each other. Visit our website for more conference details and registration. We hope to see some new faces in attendance this fall

Once again, welcome to [...]

The Paperless Challenge – From K12 to Higher Ed

by Hannah Goodwin

Although budgets, processes, overall strategy and business needs may differ, both K-12 school districts and higher ed institutions are fighting the same struggle…eliminating paper.

College Planning & Management and School Planning & Management recently highlighted two case histories that outline the paperless initiatives for Bulloch County Schools in Georgia and Central Carolina Community College in North Carolina. Both struggled with paper intensive processes that resulted in a multitude of business challenges.

With Etrieve Forms, Bulloch County Schools has been able to go electronic with roughly 90 percent of their personnel forms. Before implementing Etrieve, Bulloch’s manual processes were wasting both time and space. Records are all electronic and e-forms cut out paper on the front end, no longer requiring a warehouse for off-site record storage.

On the higher ed side, Central Carolina Community College has also seen a tremendous benefit through its use of Etrieve Forms. Administrative tasks and forms that previously took weeks to process, now can be processed within minutes.

By leveraging the complete Softdocs platform to streamline the capture of information through e-forms, route information accordingly based on workflows and store forms and other papers in a consolidated place, these schools have been able to transform business operations.

Read more about the success Bulloch County Schools and Central Carolina Community College have found by making the move to paperless.