The technology team at Bergen Community College began an extensive digital transformation journey when faced with a situation familiar to many IT departments: A legacy system was approaching end-of-life. The college took this seemingly mundane circumstance, however, and embraced it as an opportunity to support organization-wide goals to reimagine core systems, services and processes by implementing Laserfiche. What began as an effort to replace outdated software resulted in staff and faculty gaining new digital tools and improving the student experience.

Improving the student experience with LaserficheThinking Outside the Box                                               

Bergen Community College—an accredited, two-year community college—initially began a search to replace a legacy document management system and ultimately found a platform for content management, electronic forms and business process automation in Laserfiche.

“We felt like Laserfiche could be a win-win: It would give us the forms and workflow solution we were looking for and, at the same time, replace the system that was reaching end-of-life,” says Nishika Gupta, managing director of records and information management at Bergen Community College. “Also, we have a lean technology department, so we were looking for an easy-to-use system that was going to provide out-of-the-box solutions. Laserfiche fit that bill.”

Since implementing Laserfiche, the college has digitized and automated a number of processes in order to enhance the student and staff experience. One such process is in the testing department, which streamlined the process for students to bypass the requirement for a placement exam to enroll in certain classes if they met specific criteria (such as a previously earned degree in that particular field).

“A significant amount of our student population uses this process,” Gupta adds. “It was a good process to automate since the improvement has a high impact.”

Rather than require students to physically retrieve paper forms from the testing department and attach paper documents to prove that they have met the criteria, students can now submit documentation in just a matter of seconds from wherever they are, and without dealing with cumbersome paperwork.

Bergen also used Laserfiche to digitize the grade change process, which now lives online through a digital form. Off-site faculty can easily access and amend students’ grades without delay. In addition, Laserfiche enables staff members to track faculty turnaround time and send reminders as needed, all while simultaneously keeping students updated.

“As a whole, our organization’s goal is to ‘Reimagine Bergen.’ For my department, this means reimagining how we use technology and reimagining the student experience. To support this, we are dedicated to implementing solutions that our students are comfortable using. Millennials use technology in every aspect of their lives. For that reason, it’s important for us to leverage technology that expedites student-facing processes in order to meet their expectations.”

—Nishika Gupta, managing director of records and information management at Bergen Community College

Innovating Pandemic Response

The college’s goal to reimagine how it uses technology to impact students was put to the test during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting in the spring of 2020, the Bergen team was responsible for distributing emergency financial aid grants to students as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).

In order to streamline the application process and simplify it for both applicants and the financial aid counselors who were tasked with reviewing applications, the college created a Laserfiche form. The form, which students could access online, outlined criteria for student needs and asked for student permission to apply funds to the student’s tuition, or gave students the option to receive funds directly — a specific compliance requirement for HEERF. The Laserfiche form also enabled students to check the status of their request online and removed hurdles that otherwise may have existed with a more manual, paper-driven process. By the fall of 2021, the college had received 13,000 forms submissions through the electronic process that streamlined the delivery of three rounds of HEERF grant money to students in need.

In addition to funding for students, as part of HEERF, higher education institutions are also granted funds for operational needs. In order to determine how the college would use the operational dollars, Bergen is also utilizing a Laserfiche form to collect feedback and receive proposals from internal stakeholders. The form centralizes information while also standardizing how it is captured, and tracking any reviews and approvals. As with all financial decisions, the organization aims to ensure that all processes and outcomes are easily reviewed in the case of an audit.

As the college looks to the next school year, Bergen has been navigating vaccine guidelines using process automation as well. “We’ve put together a process in which we share a URL with employees that they can use to log in using their credential and complete a form,” Gupta explains. The form enables employees to indicate their vaccine status and upload supporting documents, such as a vaccine card. “It goes to our office of health services staff, who look at the submissions and then have a few different options based on whether the employee is fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, unvaccinated, or the information could not be processed because for instance, the vaccine card was not legible, or the birth date doesn’t match what we have on file.”

In the case that an employee’s form could not be processed, health services staff can indicate why, then the employee is emailed with the reasoning and can resubmit. If the employee is fully vaccinated, the information is saved in the repository and the employee is sent a confirmation. Unvaccinated employees, however, are notified that they must upload a COVID test result. Every seven days, the employee will receive this notification to upload their test results. Finally, partially vaccinated employees are asked the date of their next vaccine and are reminded a couple days beforehand to upload their second vaccine details.

The complex process is simplified through Laserfiche Forms and the automated process, allowing Bergen to easily capture and organize information, and send out notifications. Additionally, the Laserfiche process supports the college’s HIPAA compliance by saving the information in a repository that can only be accessed by the office of health services. Bergen has not mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for students, however, Gupta notes that the college can take the existing process that was created for staff and repurpose it for students.

Meanwhile, as part of its commitment to a healthy and safe campus, Bergen recently launched the “Become A Bergen VIP” incentive program. The program enabled students enrolled for the fall 2021 semester to “Get a Shot, Earn a Shot at $1,000” — meaning new or continuing students who have received vaccination against COVID-19 could apply to win one of five $1,000 tuition credits. Using a Laserfiche form, the college collected applications for the program, and winners were announced via a live YouTube stream.

Looking Ahead

With its strategic plan in place, Bergen Community College continues to pursue the vision to “Reimagine Bergen.” This includes simplifying processes to support a one-stop-shop experience for students, increasing effectiveness of personnel, and retaining the student-centric focus.

The college continues to digitize and automate content-centric processes across campus, focusing on high-impact initiatives, such as integrating Laserfiche with other core technologies including the college’s ERP and helpdesk systems; and leveraging Laserfiche’s reporting and analytics tools to help optimize processes and build and inform campus policies.

“Laserfiche was a great fit for Bergen Community College’s needs since it enabled students to better manage their academic progress,” said Zaheer Master, president of Accelerated Information Systems, the solution provider that implemented Laserfiche at Bergen. “Bergen Community College’s innovative use of technology demonstrates a commitment to its students and its vision. The college turned a search for a new system into an opportunity to enhance the student experience.”

“Everyone is happy with our Laserfiche solution, especially our students,” says Gupta. “The transparency and collaboration that the system provides has been well received, and we look forward to expanding our use throughout the college.”

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  • Streamlined and accelerated student services.
  • Enhanced staff and student experience with electronic forms.
  • Equipped staff to quickly adapt to new needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining regulatory compliance.

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