Maximizing efficiency and optimizing workflows through enterprise content management

AMI and Laserfiche boost student services at the College of the Desert through e-forms and digital records management

The College of the Desert in Palm Desert is one of the 112 institutions in the community college system of California. With an enrollment of 13,000 students, as many as 20,000 to 30,000 documents are processed annually at the college.

“The California community college system came under criticism a few years back for its inadequate technology, inefficient business processes and low completion rates,” says Annabelle Nery, dean of admissions and records. “This pushed us to be more innovative in better serving our students and fostering completion.”

With the leadership support of the College of the Desert President Dr. Joel Kinnamon and Executive Vice President Anna Davies, Nery decided to look at the way forms were moved around the institution. “A single document could go through five to 10 people during processing,” she says. “It would start at an instructional department, move to the department secretary, then to the dean or chair. If we were lucky, that week it was walked to the admissions department. We lost a lot of documents this way.”

Moving to electronically processing and storing documents seemed to be the answer, but it was unclear which partner the college should choose. “There were two big document imaging players that served the rest of the community colleges in California, but the financial directors and academic advisors at the College of the Desert found them clunky to use,” she says.

After going through an RFP process, document scanning by AMI and enterprise content management (ECM) by Laserfiche emerged as the clear winners to handle the college’s document management. AMI offers state-of-the-art technology for scanning paper and forms of all sizes, and its solution integrates with Laserfiche’s efficient ECM to reliably collect and store forms and records.

“Laserfiche’s executives encouraged us to dream big,” says Nery. “It is about scanning and electronically archiving and filing, but the goal was ultimately to make information in documents easily accessible so staff could use data to better serve students. All records needed to be attached to our student information system to make this happen, and now they are.”

The College of the Desert’s IT team is overstretched. “Fortunately, forms were created by AMI and Laserfiche, so all that was needed from our side was to hand over a stack of forms. They were returned to us in a pre-fillable format,” says Nery.

Students used to have to go to the admissions department, not only to hand in forms but to get their driver’s license copied. Within Laserfiche, AMI created a document uploader so students can remotely submit documents.

On the faculty side, ECM has consolidated many forms into just three. “Staff were forced to examine their forms and prioritize information,” says Nery. “We used to have 18, and now we have three. Moving to Laserfiche gave us the opportunity to combine forms and streamline processes.”

ECM has truly been a time saver at the College of the Desert. “With our new workflow, because documents are attached to files and people do not need to chase down documents from other departments, we can complete a task in a day,” says Nery.

Adopting AMI and Laserfiche has been a quietly positive change for the college, says Nery. “You don’t always get compliments for the changes you’ve made, but not hearing the complaints anymore has the same effect.”

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