Customer Stories

Shenandoah University

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Shenandoah University came to the realization that employee and student requirements were forcing the need for change. That need included a more innovative and mobile-friendly solution that would increase productivity and visibility for both staff and students.

As they began to look into other solutions, it became apparent that Softdocs had the right features to solve the challenges they were facing.

Shenandoah implemented Etrieve Forms and Etrieve Flow, Softdocs’ next generation e-forms and workflow solutions, in July 2017. Prior to Softdocs, Shenandoah was leveraging TransForm, one of Perceptive Software’s electronic forms solutions as well as paper forms.

Quick Facts

  • Softdocs customer since 2017
  • Implemented throughout the registrar’s office, advancement, accounts payable, finance, registration, financial aid and institutional computing

Challenges

  • Need for off-campus mobile access
  • Limited visibility into various processes
  • Cost associated with forms submissions

Solutions

  • Etrieve Forms
  • Etrieve Flow

"Developing e-forms in Etrieve is intuitive and something I’ve taken on with virtually no experience with Javascript or HTML5."

Kevin E. Grant | System Application Support Specialist | Shenandoah University

With the need to support mobile-friendly e-forms, the school began the search for a new software solution and found Softdocs.

Just four months after implementing Etrieve Flow and Forms, Shenandoah not only reached their goals but exceeded their initial expectations.

Shenandoah University came to the realization that employee and student requirements were forcing the need for change. That need included a more innovative and mobile-friendly solution that would increase productivity and visibility for both staff and students.

As they began to look into other solutions, it became apparent that Softdocs had the right features to solve the challenges they were facing.

Shenandoah implemented Etrieve Forms and Etrieve Flow, Softdocs’ next generation e-forms and workflow solutions, in July 2017. Prior to Softdocs, Shenandoah was leveraging TransForm, one of Perceptive Software’s electronic forms solutions as well as paper forms.

Since then, they have implemented Etrieve Forms and Etrieve Flow in the registrar’s office, advancement, accounts payable, institutional computing and Hornet Central, their student center for registration and financial aid needs. They are accomplishing everything they hoped to and more with the platform.

Why Softdocs?

Kevin E. Grant, Shenandoah University’s System Application Support Specialist, was brought on board in February of 2015. At that time, the university was still leveraging a combination of paper forms and software applications.

“When I was hired, I wasn’t brought on as the e-forms guy or as a developer,” said Grant. “I was hired as a Learning Management System Administrator.” Two years later, Grant was spearheading the search for a new solution.

“We needed something modern, Our previous solution just wasn’t viable.”

Some of the main challenges Shenandoah was facing was the inefficiency of paper forms, the lack of tracking that comes with intercampus mail, the lack of mobility for remote usage and the limited capacity of submissions.

“With our previous solution, we only paid for so many submissions per year,” said Grant. “We ended up using them very quickly.”

Grant shared that he looked at about six or seven other solutions throughout his search. When asked what made Softdocs stand out among the competition, Grant shared four characteristics that made Etrieve the winner.

“First of all, Etrieve’s ability to integrate with our other technologies including our existing document management platform,” said Grant. That synergy was one of the main features that Shenandoah desired for their new solution.

The remaining three winning characteristics were the off-campus access, the unlimited capacity and the end user tracking.

“The end-user tracking is key,” said Grant. “With our old process, I had to manually build in tracking but even then it was a best guess. Now I just tell the user to check in ‘Activity’ for the form they are looking for and they always respond ‘it’s there!’”

The ability to know the status of any form at any given time has been very helpful for Shenandoah, both from the end user perspective and for auditing purposes. With paper forms, there is always a chance of it being misplaced by a student or lost in the shuffle on an employee’s desk. However, with Etrieve there is a detailed audit trail to ensure that very thing does not happen.

Getting End-users on Board

“Our initial goal with implementing Etrieve was to recreate 12 forms and have them live within six months, We are well on track to exceed that goal.”

Grant explained that the challenges they faced when implementing were not necessarily on the software side of things, but more so with spreading awareness to his colleagues.

“In the higher education community, people have a tendency to resist change even if that change will be for the better,” said Grant. “They like it in the end, but not initially.” Dealing with a change in how you accomplish your daily tasks can be a big deal and many users resist that change initially until they quickly see improvement.

While Grant shared there was a learning curve for students and employees in the beginning, Etrieve is now starting to catch momentum throughout the university, just four months after implementing.

When asked why he thought Etrieve has caught on so quickly throughout the office, Grant responded that he thinks it can be attributed to both the training materials as well as how intuitive Etrieve’s interface is.

Based on Shenandoah’s needs, their team decided to take a train-the-trainer approach with getting their users up to speed. This allowed Grant, the sole administrator of Etrieve, to receive training and then train his end users at their own pace and skill level.

“The most difficult part of the end users’ learning curve is where to go to access their work now that everything is electronic,” said Grant.

However, the learning curve for end users at Shenandoah is less steep than Grant anticipated.

“I’m not sure if that’s attributed to the training process or the intuitive solution, but it has certainly exceeded our expectations,” said Grant. “It’s still a work in progress but I think we are all getting the hang of it.”

A Services Team on your Side

As a one-man team, Grant was seeking all the support he could get with the implementation. As mentioned previously, he was not brought on as an e-forms specialist or a developer, so the search for and implementation of Etrieve Forms and Etrieve Flow was entirely new to him. He found the support he wanted, and needed, with the Softdocs Professional Services team.

“The ramp up has been quicker and easier than we expected.”

What has been extremely helpful for Grant is the weekly calls he has with the Softdocs Professional Services team.

“Each week we have a call to talk and address any questions,” said Grant. “For me, to be able to talk to the Softdocs team on a weekly basis, work with the team and leave with action items is very helpful as we continue our implementation and roll-out.”

Grant mentioned that the development side of the project has been a lot more accessible than he expected. “Developing this e-forms system is something I’ve taken on with virtually no experience with Javascript or HTML5,” said Grant. “The Softdocs team has been especially helpful when I needed to overcome a hurdle, but really there haven’t been many of them.”

Etrieve is really starting to catch momentum at Shenandoah and Grant is seeing requests from other departments for forms.

Advice for Similar Schools

While Shenandoah has been pleased with the way their implementation has gone, there are a couple things they would have done differently.

One recommendation Grant had for other schools looking to make the move to paperless is to recognize that it is the administrator’s responsibility to set the expectation for all parties involved. Not only does this ensure that all employees are working towards the same goal, it also prepares end users for the change associated with moving to a new system.

Another thing Grant would have done differently is obtain an executive level mandate. The resistance to change is inevitable when you are telling people that they will have to do their jobs differently. Having an executive on your side can certainly help overcome that.“The adoption and buy in is the biggest challenge,” said Grant.

Lastly, Grant recommended having two kinds of people on your team. “Depending on the size of your institution, I recommend having someone on your team with knowledge of SQL, HTML 5, Javascript and Knockout.js.”

Grant also said you need someone dedicated to outlining and standardizing the business processes.“Etrieve makes you reimagine your processes and workflow.”

Looking Forward

Moving forward, Shenandoah is hoping to have 24 forms live in Etrieve within a year and all of their forms online within two years. “That’s more than 100 forms and workflows,” said Grant. “We will definitely be developing forms in more rapid succession.”

Grant would like Shenandoah to make the move to Etrieve Content in the future.

“The hand off to your back-end document storage system is important,” said Grant. “It’s one thing if the form just goes there to sit, but if it goes there and someone needs to review it, it’s very important to get a seamless transition from e-forms to the document management system.”

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