This project is considered a transformative initiative for Loyola and provides strategic alignment with the University’s Five Year Strategic Plan, “Grounded in Tradition, Educating for the Future”. In spring 2009, the Loyola Cost Cutting and Revenue Generation Committee identified savings opportunities for the University by reducing the amount of paper that was being printed and handled on a daily basis. As a result, the “Paperless University” project was created to investigate, recommend and implement as many paperless solutions as possible.
In fall 2009, the first initiative of the overall goal of reduced printing and for paperless processing to be implemented was the student “Allocated Printing” program. This program provided a printing allocation each semester to every student. If the student exceeded their print allocation during the semester, they would then be required to pay for the printing of additional pages. This program has significantly reduced the amount of printing by students.
Also in fall 2009, Technology Services contracted with a local vendor, CAS Severn, who had experience in implementing technology solutions for organizations striving to reduce their paper processes. They began by interviewing eight business units and one academic department in order to document the critical business processes, especially those which presented challenges to staff, faculty and students. The interview team documented the forms, letters, workflow, pain points, software and document retention policy within each of the following departments: Human Resources, Undergraduate Admission, Graduate Admission, Student Administrative Services, Controller, Payroll, Records, and Pastoral Counseling.
The report delivered was titled “Paperless University As-Is Document”, which established a baseline from which the Paperless project team could begin to envision the opportunities that were available through document digitization and electronic workflow capabilities.
Next, CAS Severn and a team from Loyola again interviewed each of the departments to formulate a strategy for adoption of the various technologies listed below to enable automation of the critical business processes that flow across the departments:
- eForms – electronic forms can be used to reduce processing time through electronic routing, reduce data entry errors and provide savings through the elimination of printed forms.
- Electronic Workflow – the process of moving data electronically from one office to another for review, approval and publishing.
- Data Management – the activities associated with monitoring data integrity, quality, access, privacy, security, compliance, stewardship and governance.
- Monitoring of Active Processes – the systemic view of all electronic workflow processes currently underway, pending or completed.
- Report Management – includes data stewardship, data dictionaries, report repositories and the activities associated with them.
- Document Imaging – the process of scanning paper documents into a computer system that stores them as digital images that can be stored, indexed, retrieved and destroyed.
- Record Management – the process of maintaining the records of an organization from the time they are created up to their eventual disposal.
The preceding “As-Is Document” was used as a building block for the next report created called, “Paperless University To-Be Document”. For each department interviewed, their pain points were reviewed and recommendations made for the adoption of the above mentioned technologies via workflow diagrams in order to illustrate the efficiencies and economies that could be captured.
Based upon the information collected and documented by the joint effort of CAS Severn and the Loyola team, a solicitation for a paperless solution was published in December 2009 and sent to a select group of vendors. It was not known at that time if a single vendor’s solution would be able to meet the needs of the University.
After campus presentations by the finalists, (Folderwave, Perceptive and LaserFiche) and site visits to schools where each of the two finalists had their solution in place (Sacred Heart, Boston College), the Loyola team decided to recommend the Perceptive Software solution, called ImageNow as the best fit for Loyola for several reasons:
- Delivered integration with Ellucian Colleague
- A comprehensive digital document imaging and management package
- A robust online forms package
- A strong workflow component for routing content
- Record management functionality
- Compliance with Loyola’s Information Security Policy
- Scalability for future demands as the solution is implemented across the enterprise and new technologies evolve.
A business case was prepared and presented to the President’s Cabinet in June, 2010 to recommend the Perceptive Software ImageNow solution, along with an initial funding source and a cost sharing model in order to fund the implementation in additional offices after the pilot was completed. Two departments were recommended to pilot the new solution and address high priority pain points that had been identified by Tim Snyder, VP Academic Affairs and Marc Camille, VP Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications.
The project was approved that day, with the identification of the first two departments to pilot the solution being Human Resources and the Office of Graduate Admission. In the pilot phase, the new system would be designed and implemented to automate Graduate Admission application processing as well as the new hire process in Human Resources. In Graduate Admission, the time to receive, validate, index and scan the admission documents needed to be shortened in addition to making the document scanning process as error free as possible.
To meet additional workflow demands, Undergraduate Admission application processing added to the pilot in February 2011, with an implementation scheduled for fall 2011. Undergraduate Admission will be utilizing Databank for document scanning, and all applicant/student documents will reside in an electronic student file, available to downstream offices.
Based upon the visit to Boston College and their overwhelming success in streamlining their processes, the project steering committee recommended the use of a third party company, DataBank, to scan the paper documents received by Loyola University for electronic storage in the paperless system. In addition, the Paperless University system would be integrated with Datatel Colleague to eliminate duplicate data entry and reduce information retrieval times.
It was determined the project would be managed centrally by Technology Services in order to coordinate the resources and information flow that would be needed across multiple Loyola divisions.