Dr. Dean Nevins, PhD. | Executive Director of IT | Santa Barbara City College
A college campus comprises many different departments, each with unique responsibilities and requirements. But everyone works toward a central purpose—to serve students efficiently and support their collegiate success. That’s why Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) is prioritizing digital transformation and process automation from the top down and across campus. Starting in the high-volume Admissions and Student Records area, SBCC kickstarted digitizing documents and forms to set the stage for improving student and business processes campuswide.
“The first step was getting student information scanned and uploaded into Etrieve, so we started with a digital store that’s compliant and digitally safe,” said Thomas Applebay, Director of IT for Administrative Systems. From there, SBCC had the foundation in place to automate processes in other key areas, including the Transcript Evaluation Office, Dual Enrollment, the Health Technologies Program, HR, and Payroll.
According to Applebay, the Admissions and Records teams praised the Etrieve system for how much process time it saved. It's much simpler, whether by fully automating an inefficient process or simply changing an existing process, even if staff members need to intervene.
“With Etrieve, you can do workflows in such a flexible manner that it allows us to accommodate a lot of different internal processes,” said Dr. Dean Nevins, PhD., Executive Director of IT. “It’s a strength of Etrieve that ties nicely into what we're trying to do as an IT department to help our college better serve students. For example, our Health Technologies Program has a huge backlog of people who want to take those classes. That’s great for meeting the demand for future nurses, but we needed a process that allows us to serve those students quicker. Etrieve does that for us.”
As an Ellucian Banner school, it was important for SBCC to have document management and workflow tie seamlessly into its SIS to maintain a common source of student information for all departments.
“One of the really nice things about Etrieve is the integration with Ellucian allows us to keep Banner as the single source of truth for our information,” said Dr. Nevins. “Even though the departments’ needs are different by nature of what they do, they use the same source of truth.”
Banner and Etrieve integration allow SBCC to maintain a high level of security, limiting access to information as appropriate for individual users. “It’s also helpful in auto-populating forms with existing information, so students and staff don’t need to enter data twice,” said Applebay.
Adding in simple forms rules goes a step further in maintaining data accuracy. “For example, in Payroll, when you go to submit hours for overtime, there are certain rules around decimal point placement,” said Dr. Nevins. “With Etrieve, we can create a form that will enforce those rules for us, which is wonderful because previously, it all had to be done manually on the back end. Now we can just write a bit of code so the form automatically checks the data as it’s entered and informs the user in the moment if there is an error. It’s a huge time saver, and it cuts down on support calls. Most importantly, the rules are applied evenly, which is important when you're talking about people's paychecks.”
As SBCC’s use of Etrieve has expanded, the school has found more ways to create meaningful shortcuts and efficiencies for its students.
“When COVID first hit, we were able to quickly create a form for students to let us know their vaccination status,” said Dr. Nevins. “We could tie that form into Banner, so it would automatically update their student records, which was great.”
In a related use case, SBCC provided student vaccination clinics on-site with a small stipend as a student incentive. Participating students could easily access and complete the vaccination form from their smartphones as they stood in line, streamlining the process. This mobile-friendly aspect of Etrieve Forms is something SBCC intends to leverage as it moves forward with plans to expand its student portal.
The school’s dual enrollment high school students are already saving tremendous time with Etrieve. Gone are the days of filling out a paper form, setting a time to meet with their counselor, obtaining hard signatures, and all the usual manual steps. Now high school students complete the online form and enter their counselor’s email, kicking off an automated process that includes a digital signature and automated routing back to SBCC’s dual enrollment office.
Another benefit to Etrieve’s flexibility, according to Applebay, is the ability to create a central access point for users of all technical levels. With single sign-on, even less tech-savvy staff or students can easily access the forms and information they need.
Also, customized workflows allow departments to notify instructors or other staff only when necessary, putting an end to overloaded inboxes. “Etrieve gives you a lot of granularity in how you can notify, which I really appreciate because you can do discrete notifications or build them into certain steps of a workflow,” said Dr. Nevins. “And being able to mix and match those capabilities however you need has been very useful for us.”
SBCC plans to continue its digital transformation, creating even more opportunities to simplify typically tedious processes and exceed student expectations.
“The discoverability of Etrieve forms has been quite useful for students,” said Dr. Nevins. “Soon they will accomplish even more with a simple Etrieve search. For instance, just type in ‘grade change’ and boom, the grade change form comes up, they fill it out, and they're done.”
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