Administrative Tools

Universities Rewrite Business Processes to Streamline Paper Flow

Two institutions--the University of Illinois at Chicago and Texas A&M at Corpus Christi--have gone public with deployments of business process management systems from Laserfiche to improve document workflow.

At U Illinois, the campus housing organization has installed Laserfiche Avante software to digitize eight years' worth of information. Included in the implementation is Laserfiche's Snapshot, which allows for the creation of archival images of electronic documents. These digital images can reduce the need to do printing and scanning. According to IT Director Matthew Miller, this new virtual format will free up storage space for the campus and provide quicker access to information. The university will also use the software to manage and archive e-mail.

Texas A&M Corpus Christi has implemented an enterprise content management application to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents in a set of processes that the university has nick-named RUBE, for "Report Upload Bifurcation Engine" (taking inspiration from cartoonist Rube Goldberg's practice of creating complex machines to achieve simple tasks).

The university had outgrown its existing document management system, according to Dennis Raulie, manager of administrative computing technology services, and it was printing what he considered an excessive number of reports and data forms. His team's goal was to implement a system that could provide services to the client base and comply with the university's records management retention schedules, better secure documents, and decrease the cost of handling paper. The technology team collaborated with end users to evaluate what they needed for document management in their respective business units.

The university tapped the Laserfiche Software Developer's Kit to set up RUBE to process continuous report files, split them into individual reports, and distribute them into a virtual staging area. There, Quick Fields, a forms processing and data capture module, reads the data, creates an optical character recognition version of the content so it can be searched, and routes the information into the proper folders within Laserfiche or to Windows Share.

According to the university, implementation of the new processes has streamlined report distribution, saving thousands of sheets of paper each day; eliminated an accounting department backlog; and increased university efficiency by making reports and data accessible by multiple groups simultaneously.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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