The Modern Campus: How to Succeed at Digital Transformation
Established in 1876, Prairie View A&M University is the second-oldest public institution of higher education in Texas, and is one of the 11 universities that make up the Texas A&M System. The university has over 9,000 students and 1,200 employees.
Beginning in 2010, Prairie View’s leadership wanted to find ways to modernize the university’s many inefficient and costly paper-based processes, and create new digital ways of doing business. “At first, the goal was mainly for data storage, to eliminate the large amounts of paper records we were keeping,” says Dwayne Marshall, IT Business Analyst and University Records Officer. “We adopted Laserfiche in 2011 primarily for this purpose. But as we saw what the platform could do, we realized we could do a lot more, so we pursued a complete digital transformation.”
Improving the employee experience
One of the major processes Prairie View transformed was new hire onboarding. The university’s HR department had recently implemented a new employment system, and ran into a variety of issues because of the learning curve. “Employees would have to manually enter new hire information, and had a difficult time figuring out the data fields to complete. It was confusing,” Marshall says. “Some forms would not be completed or would be filled out incorrectly, and new employees would receive conflicting information.”
Today, a new and improved digital process in Laserfiche for onboarding means that documents are routed digitally, and email reminders are automatically triggered at different points, so each department is aware of what needs to happen, and when. “We reduced the onboarding process from taking two months, to just two weeks or less, while reducing paper use by 75 percent. We hope to get that up to a 90 percent reduction,” Marshall says. “Digital folders with all supporting documents are created and filed instantly, all parties involved are notified at the same time when there is a status change related to the new hire, and IT receives requests for new email accounts prior to the new hire showing up on campus. These improvements have made a huge difference.”
Another process that underwent transformation was the Athletic Season Pass Purchasing for internal staff. Previously, employees submitted paper forms directly to the Payroll office or through campus mail, after which the requests would be consolidated into a spreadsheet for the Athletics department to review. There were often delays caused by missing data or misplaced documents, and sometimes tickets couldn’t be issued on time. With the new process through Laserfiche, an online form is digitally routed to the relevant offices for immediate processing. “We were able to reduce the turnaround time from roughly two weeks to two days, eliminating paper from the process entirely,” Marshall says. “As a result, we increased revenue compared to the previous year, because the user experience was improved and it was so much easier to purchase tickets.”
Overall, Marshall says the digital transformation has meant that Prairie View has improved efficiency, communication, transparency and compliance. Marshall offers the following best practices for other institutions:
- Involve IT sooner rather than later to get a better understanding of what resources will be involved and potential implementation timelines.
- Consult with your Information Security Officer and Records Retention Officer to ensure that information is protected and not being retained indefinitely, and make sure you’re being compliant with state and federal laws.
- Take a holistic view of the problem and potential solutions, and find ways to improve efficiencies in other areas.
- Make sure you have a detailed testing plan in place for your new processes, and be sure to educate and get feedback from end users.
- Find vendors that you can partner with long term, and look for one that is progressive and has offerings that can meet diverse needs.
This case study was sourced from the UB web seminar, “The Modern Campus: How to Succeed at Digital Transformation,” held on July 1, 2020. To view the archive recording of this web seminar, go to: UBmag.me/ws070120.