Cheryl Evans | Technology Specialist | Rockingham Community College
Every once in a while, adversity comes with a silver lining. Like when an unexpected global pandemic is the motivation you need to jumpstart a campus-wide project stuck in neutral. This is the story for Rockingham Community College (RCC).
As an early adopter of Etrieve by Softdocs, RCC had made significant progress in capturing paper documents in the Business Office and Human Resources into Etrieve Content and easing the costs associated with paper. But progress had slowed when it came to student forms until the pandemic pushed the demand for an online solution to Financial Aid and Student Records forms.
Working closely with the Softdocs team, RCC was able to adapt quickly to changing staff and student needs, bringing forms access to users via a convenient, single sign-on portal and eliminating unnecessary trips to campus offices.
“When the pandemic began, and we started teleworking, we needed a form to keep track of all the employees going remote,” said Cheryl Evans, Technology Specialist at Rockingham Community College. “Within 48 hours, (Softdocs Support and I) had the form built and ready to roll. I know I’m not the only customer, but I was treated like I was the only customer at the time.”
Once electronic forms are in the system, the true process automation begins. RCC uses dashboards to help Student Services staff process forms and applications more efficiently. “With dashboards, the Admissions, Records, and Financial Aid staff work from a shared dashboard when forms come in,” said Evans. “Forms aren’t routed to a particular person, instead someone can simply work the next form from the updated list, so two people don’t start working on the same form. If I pick up a form, I put my initials beside it, so the next person sees that and picks up the next form.”
Similarly, RCC students benefit from automated processes and Softdocs integration with Ellucian Colleague. By integrating the two technologies, data—such as name, ID number, advisor name, etc.—can be pulled directly from Colleague and prepopulated into student forms. “We also have dropdown lists within the forms,” said Evans. “So when students go to drop a course, they can pick the course without the risk of typing the wrong letters. For example, if a class was ENG but the student types EGN, this prevents that mistake and saves them from typing in all their information.”
“Also, having single sign-on through the portal helped us change our electronic signature policy,” said Evans. “On the bottom of every form, there’s a box you must check. By checking the box, you acknowledge that it is your electronic signature.”
RCC serves a large number of high school students who take online courses from the school. Now those students can request an RCC ID card with a simple online form. Plus college staff now save response time using automated email notifications if a student form is missing information or needs a headshot retaken. It may seem like a small use case, but it’s a big deal to young students who value the local business discounts their ID affords them. And for the school, having IDs readily available for students simplifies the proctoring test process, allowing quick validation with the student information in Colleague.
Simplifying access to student data is great, but what about using data to identify trends and inform critical student service decisions? RCC generates valuable reports using the Softdocs platform to support school outcomes and goals. One key area involves course add/drops, to aid in student retention.
“We wanted to know why our students were dropping courses,” said Evans. “We did a Softdocs report that pulls the student’s name, ID number, the course they dropped and the reason they gave for dropping. The people working on student retention can use this information to see if there are any patterns. Is it a particular class that keeps getting dropped? Is it a particular instructor? Was the student misadvised? It’s a big help to figure out what’s going on and how do we make this better for our students, so we can keep them once they are here.”
Reports have made a big difference in the business office, too. For example, in Payroll, staff can run a report to know who has turned in a leave report each month and who has done time sheets, including part-time employees who use contracts. The report lets Payroll reconcile the information in Colleague with the documents in Etrieve. “So we don’t have all those pieces of paper walking back and forth across the halls. They’re automatically notified when the forms are in the system. Now, Payroll exports one spreadsheet and put it with their paperwork,” said Evans. “Instead of printing 200 pieces of paper.”
RCC has made big strides in its digital transformation efforts since the pandemic. Evans credits a strong partnership with Softdocs Managed Services for making such strong headway.
“Having (Softdocs) consultants available to build many forms for us and set up workflows saves a tremendous amount of time and keeps us from needing to hire another person,” said Evans. “For the price we are paying, I would tell other schools to look at the numbers, and you are going to come out on the good side every time with Softdocs.”
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