With more than fifty years of student records, employee files and other documents spread across campus in filing cabinets or as boxes of microfilm, Davidson-Davie Community College recognized an opportunity to improve student service by reimagining how they collect, process and distribute information.

As piles of documents accompanied each new semester to process and file, many departments at Davidson-Davie Community College were growing frustrated by the challenge of how to track and locate the information that students and employees need, in a timely and convenient manner. Files were sometimes temporarily misfiled or misplaced, while time-intensive processes proved cumbersome and responsible for causing delays in student service. As a result, Davidson-Davie Community College chose to implement document imaging and a print customization solution, Serve by Softdocs.

These two new solutions greatly reduced the amount of paper accompanying each new semester, and immediately improved the institution’s ability to locate needed information quickly. Pulling formatted output from Ellucian Colleague through Serve to create and print account statements, checks, purchase orders and transcripts, Davidson-Davie Community College glimpsed how reimagining common business processes could improve speed of student service and create new, time-saving efficiencies. Instead of having to generate paper purchase orders, Davidson-Davie Community College gained the ability to send electronic copies through email. Purchase orders began to be submitted automatically to both Davidson-Davie Community College’s receiving department and the originator of the purchase order.

Bryan McCullough, associate dean of student records and registrar, said he appreciated that Serve could be utilized to print attendance rosters through Ellucian Colleague, the school’s ERP. With continuing education courses using paper attendance rosters, this functionality had proven quite useful.

Donald Beck, director of information technology services, expressed that when Davidson-Davie Community College began using Doc e Fill and Serve that their intent was to expand utilization throughout campus. After using these solutions in conjunction with a third-party document imaging solution for several years, Davidson-Davie Community College decided it would be advantageous to consolidate to one ECM solution that would allow them to introduce more automation into their processes and further their expansion efforts.

Pleased with their already successful relationship with the Softdocs team and after researching several options, Davidson-Davie Community College decided to proceed with a migration to Softdocs’ newest ECM platform, Etrieve. Another deciding factor was Etrieve’s ability to pull information from both stored documents and their ERP, prepopulate forms and then place forms into dynamic workflows. Based on these advantages, discovery was contracted and DCCC was live on Etrieve within six months.

In discussing the discovery process, Jennifer Starsick, director of operational accounting, remembered the thoroughness of the Softdocs representatives.

“It really makes you think about your processes and how you need to organize and manage those. They [Softdocs] ask a lot of detailed questions and at first you might be thinking ‘why do they need to know that?’ But it was all for a reason. It’s helped us be able to organize our documents and figure out our workflow processes.”

An Introduction to Process Automation

Managers were especially excited about Etrieve Flow and the ability to track and locate specific documents in the system. There was a lot of anticipation and eagerness as Davidson-Davie Community College started moving toward full utilization. “The real value is the ability to easily access information, instead of having to route a student to 4-5 different places,” Beck said.

“We can provide a better flow of engagement for everyone and speed up the process of helping everyone, both students and staff.”

Starsick discussed the transition from their third-party imaging system to Etrieve Content. “In the Davidson-Davie Community College business office, all the scanning was being done after documents were processed and approved. This meant there was still a lot of paper to complete, process and file.” With one person in charge of scanning check copies, invoices, purchase orders, receiving documents and other files in the back end–it was simply not a timely or efficient process.

When it came to things like grant billing or new equipment reconciliation, it was still a search for the paper copy. Moving forward with Etrieve Content allowed Davidson-Davie Community College to reevaluate processes and create new efficiencies in their purchasing and accounts payable departments.

When rolling out use of Etrieve Forms, Davidson-Davie Community College hosted open forums with power users to discuss which forms they would like to use through Etrieve and how these would fit into their workflows. IT at Davidson-Davie Community College felt this approach allowed them to get things off the ground smoothly as they received not only lots of good ideas, but user buy-in as well.

“As we started looking at forms, we’ve had a chance to evaluate our processes, evaluate our forms and make some minor changes to make it easier for faculty and staff to submit them and to make sure that we really need the information we’re asking for,” Starsick said. “It’s really helped us just to reevaluate processes and forms as we’ve gone through and changed some things. Just having access to the electronic documents from the beginning has made a world of difference.”


Platform Expansion

At the core of the Etrieve platform lies Etrieve Content, a central data repository that houses all of the institution’s documents and information. Prior to Etrieve, Davidson-Davie Community College had files in varying formats throughout campus. They had digitized documents (many that dated back to the founding of DCCC in 1963), stored on CDs and uploaded to a shared drive. Bryan McCullough, associate dean of student records and registrar, mentioned that to view these files, users had to log into a program that was clunky, inefficient and hard to use. Softdocs took those images and created a new home for them within Etrieve.

“Our old imaging system had some documents. Our microfilm had other documents. Our old paper records were accessed through another imaging system that was difficult to use. Now everything is in one system. I can access any of our documents through Etrieve.”

Starsick concurred that they have easier and faster access to their documents through Etrieve. “Once an invoice has been received into the office, they can track its status much more efficiently. No more going door-to-door and asking people if they’ve seen it. Even the check approval process is much easier and more efficient. With documents already in the system and immediately accessible, everyone’s job has gotten easier.”

Next came the rolling out of Etrieve Forms in the business office, which has already put e-forms in the hands of faculty and staff, with plans to roll out student facing forms soon. With payment request forms and travel authorization forms that automatically import to Etrieve Content, Davidson-Davie Community College immediately realized the benefits.

“We’ve designed the travel form to allow a tracking feature for faculty and staff. They’ll be able to see if their supervisor has approved it or where it is in the process. We’ve also set it up to create some additional efficiencies for them – allowing them to more easily complete the form correctly and not delay their reimbursement or advance,” Starsick said. By building in required fields, Davidson-Davie Community College is hoping to relieve most of the issues that come with using paper forms.

And since Etrieve is a web-based system, it has allowed for single sign-on authentication and extended other convenient benefits to users at Davidson-Davie Community College. McCullough mentioned how he appreciates the option for users to add PDFs directly to a file in Etrieve without scanning, allowing files to be updated much more quickly.


The Future is Bright

Davidson-Davie Community College is continuing their efforts to make e-forms available to all employees and students. McCullough explained, “My expectation is that by the end of this academic year, we’re going to be utilizing e-forms almost solely for the student side of things, completely replacing what we now do with paper.” With scanning being utilized primarily in an archival manner within student records, the introduction of e-forms will greatly reduce the paper flow into and out of their department, creating a better user experience for students.

As they continue to look to the future, Davidson-Davie Community College is working towards making document lookups available to managers in other departments, integrating people into workflows and rolling out the Etrieve platform across campus.