When it comes to implementing a new enterprise software application, it’s essential to find a rollout strategy that fits the resources and goals of your institution’s digital transformation efforts.

For the University of Redlands and their implementation of Softdocs, this meant an intentional approach, starting first with Student Financial Services where they felt Etrieve could make the most immediate impact.

“We felt it was an area where we could demonstrate to the rest of the institution the value of moving to an electronic document management system,” said Steve Garcia, Chief Information Officer at the University of Redlands.

In roughly nine months, the team was able to convert all financial aid processes and documentation to the Etrieve platform. “As a result, we preserved close to a million sheets of paper and reclaimed about 500 square feet of floor space from filing cabinets,” said Garcia.

Once word of Student Financial Services’ success came across campus, nearly all other departments were ready to take advantage of Etrieve Content and Forms efficiencies— including Registrar, Business Office, Human Resources, the School of Education and the School of Business. ”We wanted to use a carrot rather than a stick, and by converting the Student Financial Services office first, we were successful in that strategy,” said Garcia.


Greater Accessibility in the Cloud

According to Garcia, the University decided several years ago to move all its enterprise applications to the cloud. It’s been a systematic process, and Softdocs was a big step in that direction. “We have tried as much as possible to discourage physical printing,” said Garcia. “We’ve done that on purpose because we don’t feel printing is necessary anymore. In 90% of the cases, if not more, we want workflow, forms, storage and retrieval all to happen electronically.”

The advantages of automated document management and processes became abundantly clear when the COVID pandemic turned the University’s workforce remote in a matter of days.

“Having all our resources available for people wherever they happen to be and whatever computer they were using was really beneficial,” said Garcia. “We didn’t have to worry about something happening in the server room or an application going offline, and no one could get to it. So (being in the cloud) was a big deal.”

There is Value in Peace of Mind

Another key driver for moving to a cloud-based system was the need for disaster recovery and business continuity. “We are located less than three or four miles from the San Andreas Fault, so we are always thinking about what could happen if there is a major earthquake or natural disaster,” said Garcia. “That said, we didn’t anticipate the kind of slow-rolling natural disaster (COVID pandemic) that would take months to fully manifest and then get past. But the preparation we did to facilitate remote instruction and remote work really paid off in 2020.”

The security measures enabled by using cloud-based Etrieve gave University staff and administrators peace of mind then and now.

“As long as we are cognizant about end-point security and maintaining encryption of data going up and down to the cloud, my feeling is (the data) is as safe and secure as it’s going to be anywhere at any time,” said Garcia. “It’s absolutely something you must do. It’s not a choice anymore.”

Gaining New Efficiencies for Students and Staff

The University has used the Etrieve platform to empower staff with a new level of self-sufficiency. It’s not only about eliminating the manual burden of paper-based processes but also about giving people the tools they need to securely store, access and share information without needing IT to play a heavy role in the process.

For students, online forms, from financial aid applications to immunization submissions, are easily completed via a secure portal and routed to the appropriate department. Automatically generated email notifications let students know what information has been submitted or if further action may be needed.

Etrieve has allowed IT and department leaders to see processes in a new light. Stepping back from the way it’s always been done to evaluate the possibility of a better way.

“One of our mottos in the IT office is that we align process and technology,” said Garcia. “That means we are willing to look at changing either one a bit to find a happy medium where we can make the way everyone works more fun and efficient.”