Customer Stories

Transylvania University

Transylvania Logo

Etrieve truly modernized the way students at Transylvania interact with the university, improving their overall experience and easing previously burdensome processes for employees.

Quick Facts

  • Softdocs customer since 2016
  • Completed implementations in the registrar’s office, financial aid, international students department and student billing.

Challenges

  • Inconsistencies with file naming and folder structures
  • Disjointed communication among departments due to meshing multiple solutions
  • Inefficiency of paper forms

Solutions

  • Etrieve Content
  • Etrieve Forms
  • Etrieve Flow
  • Doc e Serve

Transylvania University was getting the job done but knew the way they were working through processes was not ideal. Despite being a smaller college, paper files grew quickly and began to make student service subpar. Transylvania purchased Softdocs in 2016 and has since modernized their experience for students and employees alike.

Transylvania University knew its departments were not working efficiently. Not only were manual, paper-based processes limiting employee productivity, they were spilling over to the service students were receiving. Today’s students do not see features like mobile-access being luxuries–they are expectations–and Transylvania was not keeping up.

The university began its search for a document management solution and found Softdocs in 2016. With a tight budget, Transylvania was unsure what they would find in the content management space that would fit their needs. With Softdocs, they were able to stay within budget without sacrificing any functionality. For them, this was huge.

Transylvania University implemented Etrieve, Softdocs’ next generation enterprise content management platform for document management, electronic forms and workflow, in the fall of 2016. Prior to Softdocs, Transylvania had been using a piecemealed combination of systems to manage their content. From Google Drive to network folder-sharing systems, they had been attempting to streamline their processes but found collaboration to be difficult with departments using various solutions.

By early 2018, Transylvania had completed implement-ations in the registrar’s office, financial aid, international students department and student billing. They immediately discovered new efficiencies they never expected.

A Single Solution for Success

There were several issues Transylvania was dealing with that drove them to search for a content management solution. Some of these included inconsistencies with file names and folder structures, lack of collaboration among departments and the inefficiency of paper-based processes.

Prior to Softdocs, student billing had created their own version of document management within their office, which ultimately led to inconsistencies in the naming of document types and how things were filed.

The financial aid office was completely paper-based, and as the team described it, their area consisted of “file cabinets galore."

“If we hadn’t found a solution, we would have stayed in the dark ages–kept on killing trees and wasting time,” said Associate Director of IT–Enterprise Applications, Krista Story. “It wasn’t ideal but we got the job done.”

A Transylvania employee of 18 years, Krista shared her team had underestimated the impact Softdocs would have. They had an idea of how inefficient their processes were, but did not realize the level of accountability and collaboration that would come as a result of their implementation. Ultimately, Transylvania has been able to make significant strides in their journey to paperless with Etrieve.

“Etrieve has modernized our campus and allowed us to do things we couldn’t do before.”

Registrar’s Office: From manual scanning to mobile, streamlined and secure.

The registrar’s office was one of the first departments at Transylvania to go live with Softdocs’ solutions. Story talked with the Head Registrar at Transylvania and got some insight into the impact that Etrieve made on its processes.

“The ability to access student files without having to see the physical file was a big improvement for her, whether it be answering a student question while she is somewhere away from her desk on campus, working from home or attending a conference.”

The registrar’s office had forms like grade changes and letters of good standing they thought had to be paper due to signature requirements. However, with Softdocs’ authentication process, they were able to move those forms online, not only making their lives easier but also meeting the student expectation of having online access to nearly everything. By simply moving these forms online, Transylvania realized an added bonus–students filled them out correctly on the first pass. With the ability to create rules around forms, as well as prepopulate data, wasted time deciphering incomplete forms was eliminated.

Beyond transitioning paper forms to electronic workflow processes, Transylvania also benefited from moving their old electronic forms to Etrieve.

“Implementing Etrieve for electronic forms was huge for us, authentication and workflows have allowed us to accomplish so much more than we did previously.”

The registrar’s office had been using Google Forms and Formsite. While these solutions met an initial need, they left a hole seeing that completed forms did not file directly to a student’s electronic record.

“If you wanted to look up a student that changed majors or changed advisors, to either view or verify the form, you would have to log in to Google or Formsite to access the result,” said Story. “It’s so beneficial to be able to log in to Etrieve, pull up the student’s file and have all the information you need right there in one place.”

Financial Aid: Taking time sheets to the next level.

The biggest improvement Transylvania’s financial aid department saw was with their time sheets. Prior to implementing Etrieve, Transylvania was still using a three-page, carbon copy time sheet that came with a lengthy completion and approval process.

“Students had to fill out the piece of paper, take it to the supervisor to get their signature and then walk it to the financial aid office,” Story shared. “Then the financial aid office had two different employees manually check the math to make sure it added up correctly. Then they hand keyed it into PowerFAIDS, their financial aid software, and ran another report to check for any data entry mistakes. Once that was done, they ran a data export for HR. As you can imagine, that was pretty much an all-day process,” said Story.

Now time sheets are all online within Etrieve. Students are able to complete the form online, which then routes to their supervisor leveraging Etrieve’s workflow automation feature. After the supervisor electronically signs the form, it routes to the financial aid office for processing.

“What used to take a full day now only takes about an hour, and with the additional automation we are getting ready to add,  it will only take a couple of minutes. It is such a long overdue process improvement.”

With Etrieve, supervisors are still able to approve time sheets even if they are sick or off campus. Additionally, Transylvania is able to provide quicker and more streamlined service to students.

Along with greater efficiencies with their time, Transylvania has experienced significant paper savings. Financial aid has a review committee that meets weekly. The committee previously printed a huge stack of paperwork for each meeting, but now they just share it all though Etrieve.

The committee benefits from saving time not having to print paperwork and preserves resources with Etrieve’s online access.

With financial aid award letters, Transylvania was previously printing an admissions copy and a file copy for each student. They would walk a stack of papers to the admissions building every time they were awarding letters or when they changed an award. Now, financial aid is able to print the letters directly to the student record and allow access for both coaches and admissions counselors to view them anywhere, any time. 

“The speed of the day to day work has been great for financial aid. They don’t have to get up and search for files anymore–it is all just there at their fingertips.”

Slate and Softdocs: Making admissions smarter.

As more and more institutions began using CRM utilities for the admissions process, Softdocs recognized the need to integrate closely with these solutions. It just made sense to have a process in place where upon enrollment, key documents and information from the admissions CRM solution would automatically populate the electronic student folder within Etrieve. Given the success of Technolutions’ Slate and the number of joint users of Slate and Etrieve, Softdocs worked with Technolutions to build an integration with Slate. 

About a year after implementing Etrieve, Transylvania implemented Slate and immediately bridged the two systems together, further enhancing the investment they had made in each software application.

When a student applies to Transylvania, all information associated with their record is stored in Slate. This can include everything from the actual application to transcripts and test scores. When a student is admitted an automated workflow is triggered and all information for that student is funneled into Etrieve to create their individual student record. That student record holds all admissions data and documentation, as well as index information.

The best part about the integration is the simple set-up and the immediate return on investment.

“Logistically thinking through the process is sometimes more difficult than actually implementing.”

Additionally, Transylvania knew the bridge between Etrieve and Slate would positively impact both admissions and the registrar’s office greatly, but what they did not expect was how much it would help with the financial aid process. Now when questions arise, the financial aid office can easily view the student’s application and the information they need in Etrieve. The integration has been an overall win for the university.

A Domino Effect

Other areas at Transylvania using Etrieve include the international students department and student billing. Story mentioned how thankful the registrar’s office was to be able to see all of the international students’ paperwork within Etrieve. Previously, this information was stored across campus and immediate access was challenging.

With student billing, the transition was more seamless as they were replacing an existing document management solution and users had already started to adapt to a paperless environment. By migrating to Etrieve, Transylvania began to move towards a more cohesive solution across campus and additionally saw the benefit Etrieve provided for consistent naming and filing structures, as well as additional collaboration resulting from easy access to content and intelligent electronic workflow.

Currently, the IT department is working to implement Etrieve in accounts payable.

“It’s kind of self-replicating. Now that we have these certain areas on Etrieve, it’s drumming up more interest and people want to access the information within there, so it’s growing by nature,” said Senior Programmer/Analyst, Jeff Summers.

Other departments on campus are seeing the benefits of having documents centralized within Etrieve and how simple and quick sharing can be when you eliminate printing and walking across campus. Human resources, disability services and student health services are all interested in implementing Etrieve in the near future. 
 

Shared Learnings for Success

If Transylvania could share any advice for schools looking to implement Etrieve it would be to ensure you have buy-in from the areas that are implementing.

“If you don’t have the buy in, you need to make sure you have a hands-on IT department. Luckily, our first two departments to implement were excited!”

Transylvania’s IT team has also seen success with letting offices reach out to them when they want to go live on Etrieve. When the offices are ready and willing, it makes it a lot easier.

Looking Forward

Transylvania plans to keep moving forward with Etrieve’s e-forms and workflow functionality.

“We think the possibilities with Etrieve Forms and Flow are endless. We feel like we’ve just barely opened the window there.”


Transylvania plans to implement Etrieve in the disability office, student health services, student wellness and housing. Taking all of the student health forms and immunization forms into Etrieve will provide an increased level of security due to the authentication features within the solution, ensuring only users with certain permissions are able to view the data.