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Campus Document Management

Going Paperless

Central New Mexico Community College turns to technology to improve its document management

When Central New Mexico Community College started looking at ways to eradicate paper and better manage its files last year, the institution set its sights on a document imaging solution.

High on the school's requirement list was a system that would not only allow users to scan images, and then manipulate and track those documents as they moved through various departments, but that would also integrate with its existing SunGard Higher Education Banner Enrollment Management Solution.

"We wanted to be able to use the Banner system with the scanned images," said Joe Gieri, executive director of the Office of Information Technology Services. Other important considerations for the 28,000-student college included the lifecycle management of the scanned documents, or the ability to scan and manage documents from the point where they enter the system, all the way up until they are removed from it.

Once the Albuquerque-based college's requirements were laid out for Gieri's team to review, it was decided that the school needed more than a basic document imaging system. What it needed was a true enterprise management system that would handle the basic tasks, plus the integration with Banner. Using an established procurement process that includes an RFP and specifications, the school put the job out to bid.

Several vendors replied to the RFP, including Hyland Software, maker of enterprise content management suite OnBase.

Gieri said he was surprised by Hyland's response and proposal, both of which were unexpected. "That wasn't one of the vendors that we were familiar with in the higher education space," said Gieri. "After reading their reply, we decided to bring them in to ask more questions about the company and its products."

In the end, the dark horse won out, and Central New Mexico Community College invested in what Gieri called "a very affordable solution" to a technology challenge that the school was ready and willing to pay a large sum to solve. "We were pleasantly surprised to see the cost of the system," he added.

The software took several months to install and has been up and running since May 2009. Gieri said the school is handling the integration in "small steps," with a current focus on user training. Purchasing and human resources were the first two departments to use the content management system, with several other areas of the school currently being trained on its use.

"We opened it up to a reasonable user population, while also trying to manage the number of documents that the departments were actually uploading to the system," explained Gieri. "That meant starting out with just two or three key documents per department and growing it from there."

Gieri said his IT team didn't face any major challenges during installation, nor has it dealt with any big issues during implementation. "Of course, any time you introduce a cultural change there are going to be some minor challenges," said Gieri, "but when you factor in the budget and time savings associated with this new system, it's easy to see how much value it brings to the table. It sells itself."

In fact, Gieri said the college's original goals of going paperless were exceeded in just the months that the new software has been in place. "Our focus was rather narrow going into this project," Gieri admitted, "but as we began to understand the technology we had purchased, we realized that we got more than we bargained for in terms of capabilities. It's been a real eye-opener for us."

While procurement and human resources are serving as the testing ground for the content management, Gieri said he expects student enrollment services to achieve significant benefits in a short period of time. "Enrollment services is migrating over from an existing document imaging solution," he said, "and looks to be the front-runner in the usage of this new system."

According to Gieri, campus-wide benefits of the new implementation will include significant time savings for employees and administrators whose important documents will be stored in one place and easily accessible.

"In the past, users would store files in five or six different places, and not be able to find them when needed," said Gieri. "With our new content management system, that will no longer be an issue because everything will be in one place, and easily accessible." By reducing the total number of files created and stored, the system will also help the school save on remote storage and backup space.

Central New Mexico Community College, which recently became the highest enrolled postsecondary institution in New Mexico, has even more technology investments on its agenda. For example, in the fall the school was in negotiations to upgrade to a campus-wide VoIP system.

"We'll be moving from an analog-based system to one that traverses our data network," said Gieri, who said he foresees a time when faculty and staff are "no longer tied down" to traditional phone lines. "Once we get the voice over IP in place, we can start looking at wireless, mobility, accessibility, and all those other buzzwords that our faculty is interested in."

About the Author

Bridget McCrea is a business and technology writer in Clearwater, FL. She can be reached at [email protected].

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