“The great thing about Computhink is any time you need to get in touch with someone you get an immediate response. This was true from the first day and remains true now. Recently, we participated in a Computhink Webinar. We submitted questions and they tracked the questions and responded immediately. They have been very proactive.”
– Sharon Wurm, Assistant Director of the Financial Aid Department
Truckee Meadows Community College is the fastest growing college in northern Nevada. The College serves more than 12,000 students with programs leading to associate degrees and certificates in more than 40 academic and occupational areas.
The College’s Financial Aid Department stores about 14,000 hardcopy files and processes approximately 7,000 new applications a year. Department workers were running out of space to store all their files when they were told their office might be moved, resulting in the loss of their file room altogether.
Since they are required by the U.S. Department of Education to keep files for four years (sometimes longer depending on a specific regulation) they recognized that converting to an electronic file system would save both time and money while serving their students better. The question was which electronic file system to choose.
Same Problem…Times Two
While Financial Aid Department was researching electronic alternatives to paper, another department was already using a document imaging system. “We found the other department’s system to be, ‘clunky,’” says Sharon Wurm, Assistant Director of the Financial Aid Department.
Wurm continues, “Our Director of Information Technology Operations found Contentverse from Computhink at a tradeshow. Information Technology Operations set-up Contentverse on our server to Computhink’s specs and everything worked fine. After some trial and error, we were able to adjust the security controls to match our needs. Both departments now use Contentverse.”
The New Workflow Process
With 22 licensed users, Contentverse is now an integral part of the Financial Aid Department’s record keeping procedures. The Contentverse integrated document management system is utilized as an ongoing work-in-process system where files are built electronically – capturing scanned documents such as copies of tax forms.
To begin the financial aid application process; students go online to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and complete an eight-page application. Truckee Meadows Community College then imports the application information from the DOE system once a week into the College’s mainframe system.
Next, the student goes online to the Truckee Meadows Community College website to fill out an Activation Form. The Activation Form is then delivered to the Financial Aid Department in the form of an email. Financial Aid imports the email Activation Form into Contentverse. This begins the lifecycle of an applicant’s file. All e-files are stored according to academic year, exactly like their old paper-based filing system. Files are indexed by name, Social Security number, and award year for efficient retrieval.
Braving the Back-file
Once the Financial Aid Department decided to go completely paperless, every file began being stored and available for electronic retrieval. The College also initiated the scanning of old paper files into Contentverse, for archival purposes, because as Wurm puts it, “It’s frustrating to have to look for a paper file.”
Financial Aid Department personnel like the ease and intuitive appeal of the Contentverse secured archival retrieval system. The learning curve is short and the time to retrieve a file as well as the number of misplaced files has been dramatically reduced. Stephanie Costigan, Financial Aid Administrative Assistant, took the initiative to delve deeper into Contentverse and customize it to make it match the department’s needs even better.
Says Costigan, “When we moved from paper files to electronic files, people were concerned that they would actually lose paperwork. However, since installing Contentverse, nothing has ever happened that couldn’t be resolved quickly.”
Costigan says she relies heavily on some of the standard features of Contentverse. “We do some double-sided scanning, some batch scanning, and some individual scanning,” she explains. “Features like despeckle, deskew (both automatic and manual), and anything that makes a scanned file legible is critical to us.”
Contentverse also enables the department to cut and copy pages from a file in one year and paste them into next year’s file. That way, a student file exists in every year and selective paperwork can be advanced to the current year’s file.
Return on Investment (ROI)
In calculating soft ROI, Wurm points out, “The time to retrieve a file has been reduced to a fraction of what it used to be. Cost savings are quite apparent.”
Wurm refers to the time it takes to search for files as the “time of hunt.” Before Contentverse, a staffer might spend 15 minutes searching for a hard-to-find file before relegating the task to a student worker who might spend another 30-45 minutes. This could happen as often as once a day using the old paper system. Now, hard-to-find files occur less than once a month and take a fraction of the time to find.
Contentverse Supports a Multi-departmental Model
Wurm is realizing her vision of Contentverse as the centerpiece of a complete electronic solution. “Computhink is very willing to help with that,” says Wurm.
In fact, the Admissions and Records Office has proactively explored how best to implement Contentverse scanning into its daily procedures. They will begin this project by outsourcing the scanning and indexing of their entire file room – a $45,000 project – that will then be imported into Contentverse. Unlike Financial Aid, the Admissions Office must maintain student documents indefinitely, creating a substantial strain on their file room resources.
The Controller’s Office has also explored how best to incorporate Contentverse scanning into its daily procedures. Their workflow involves maintaining thousands of documents, yearly, pertaining to purchasing and fiscal procedures for the College.
For single-department or multi-department implementations, Contentverse provides software that is responsive to the different needs for each of Truckee Meadows Community College’s specific departments. Combine that with fast, expert service and support and the College has a document management system that pays for itself and a company that stands solidly behind it.