Streamlining admissions operations with a digital records strategy
Students applying to the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, traditionally would submit their required materials … and wait. Admissions counselors would print the applications, supporting documents, labels and review sheets. Only after these papers were stuffed into manila folders were the counselors ready to notify a student that their application was received. Often, weeks would go by between the institution receiving the materials and the student being notified. When Kimberley Williams joined the institution as associate provost for enrollment management in 2013, based on her experience at previous institutions, she knew there was a way to reduce that lag time.
“The process was slow because we did so many things manually,” says Williams. “We did not have document imaging, so it took us a long time to manually upload, print and complete files.”
Eliminating paper, increasing efficiency
Williams discovered the registrar’s office was using Enterprise Content Management software by Laserfiche to archive documents. By integrating ECM into the admissions office, instead of printing files, admissions counselors could view all components of an application digitally, wherever they had internet access. With the elimination of manual processes, starting in fall 2015, students are notified that the institution received their materials in two days instead of two weeks.
“We use the workflows in Laserfiche ECM to electronically take students from the application stage to the admissions decision,” says Williams. “Laserfiche allows us to automate and to have streamlined processes.” Part of creating those streamlined processes is the way Laserfiche seamlessly integrates with other systems, including Common App and many ERP, SIS and communications systems. Once an admissions decision has been made, Mary Washington’s CRM updates the status from “applicant” to either “admit” or “deny” for the next steps of the student lifecycle.
More time for more critical tasks
The management reports are one of the most valuable aspects of Laserfiche ECM, says Williams.
“I can get a great high-level view of where applications fall in our processes queue,” she says. “I can see if bottlenecks develop and then can proactively figure out why that’s happening and get us back on track quickly.”
The quality of the customer service Williams’ office is able to offer applicants vastly improved. Previously her staff frequently fielded calls from students wanting to ensure their applications made it to Williams’ office. The volume of calls has greatly dropped, and zero complaints about a lag time in notification were logged for fall 2015.
“Students are anxious during the application process and want to know as soon as possible when their materials are received,” says Williams. “Now we can quickly tell them that we have what we need, and we know that because we can see it in Laserfiche.”
Perhaps the greatest benefit of all has been the gain in staff time resources, says Williams. By eliminating manual printing processes, Williams can now use her staff members in different, more strategic ways. “The other departments on campus have noticed that we are operating so much more efficiently,” she says. “It is so rare to gain time on a small campus with low resources, but Laserfiche ECM has allowed us to do that.”
This piece was produced for Laserfiche by University Business. For more information, visit www.laserfiche.com/solutions/higher-education