Managing unstructured data helps colleges with efficiency and compliance

Workflow automation keeps information safe while providing important insights to help institutions achieve their critical mission

What is the state of unstructured data on college campuses today?

There is a huge proliferation of information produced, from emails to applications for financial aid and dorm rooms. Gartner estimates that upward of 80 percent of enterprise data today is unstructured. But the business strategy to capture this content and organize it for efficiency and compliance purposes is lacking.

Why should institutions manage their unstructured data?

When so much business content is unstructured—not searchable or accessible and with no ability to generate reports—it is difficult to leverage that data to inform better student programs and ensure budgets and planning are sufficient to achieve the institution’s critical mission. Also, in such a highly regulated industry, compliance becomes a concern.

How can schools implement a campuswide policy for this?

We recommend a five-step framework:

1. Capture. A procedure must be in place to capture data as soon as it’s created. Develop an automated way of funneling content into a single repository of institutional data.

2. Organize. Find ways of applying metadata and tags to documents so you can quickly search them.

3. Automate. Decision-making needs to be simple and effective. Consider the tenure promotion process, which can take months. With automation, digital notifications can be sent when an application is submitted, people can review the dossier simultaneously, and an audit trail is created. This can increase efficiency and meet compliance requirements.

4. Streamline. Expand systemwide. The automation logic—capture data, organize decision-making steps and archival—is similar across processes.

5. Transform. Gain intelligence from the automated processes. Provosts should be able to generate a year-end report on how many faculty members received tenure, research focus, and average promotion timeline.

This can sound very daunting, but setting up a highly efficient workflow-automation foundation should be a priority.

How has Laserfiche helped universities achieve this?

Oakwood University in Alabama streamlined all academic servicing processes by integrating Laserfiche with its SIS. This allows the institution to quickly identify at-risk students and provide early intervention.

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