Bergen Community College Reimagines the Student Experience With Laserfiche

5 min read

The technology team at Bergen Community College (BCC) 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 What began as an effort to replace outdated software resulted in staff and faculty gaining new digital tools and improving the student experience, including reimagining the college’s One Stop student services center to be both more efficient and more accessible.

Thinking 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 have a modest-sized IT team, but we don’t have many programmers; we are more business analysts,” says Nishika Gupta, managing director of records and information management at BCC. “So we were looking for an out-of-the-box solution that we could implement without much coding. And it had to integrate with everything else, our student information system, our sign-on system, our ticketing system, all of that. And for record-keeping, we wanted Department of Defense 5015 certification, to know that the system security is robust.”

Since implementing Laserfiche, the college has digitized and automated more than 80 processes in order to enhance the student and staff experience campuswide. And because Laserfiche is a low-code solution, BCC has not had to increase the size of its IT department.

When the college made a multimillion-dollar investment to redesign its student services center, the One Stop, the team also took the opportunity to assess the complete student experience across all One Stop services. “The results yielded a significant number of new automated processes leveraging Laserfiche which reduced student foot traffic upwards of 50%,” says Ron Spaide, BCC’s chief information officer. “This allowed for One Stop staff to focus on high touch student support services, such as student advising and counseling, by redirecting staff resources to these critical areas.”

One student-centric process that was is re-engineered with Laserfiche was 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). Rather than require students to physically gather all of the paper documents that prove they have met the criteria, students can now submit documentation in just a matter of seconds from wherever they are.

BCC 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.

Prior to adopting Laserfiche, “Everything was manual,” explains Lisa DiGaetano, assistant director – One Stop/Enrollment Services. “[There was] constant scanning of documents. With Laserfiche, everything is contained and accessible, for reference, to investigate a problem, or to do anything. It’s just an amazing improvement.”

The dual enrollment program for high schoolers taking BCC courses used to require the aspiring students to gather up and submit a stack of paperwork, including parental and high school counselor permission forms. Now the entire process takes place online, with automatic routing to each party that needs to sign off, and then to the registration department and bursar. Instead of calling to inquire about progress, anxious students or parents can check online at any time.

As a whole, our organization’s goal is to ‘Reimagine Bergen. 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

Continuous Innovation

At certain times of the year, BCC receives as many as 6,000 forms per month, which equates to significant time and cost savings for the organization. On the back end, the data that the Laserfiche platform collects allows BCC to keep improving. And a culture of continuous innovation is growing stronger across the campus.

“Student Services is our biggest user of the of Laserfiche,” Gupta adds. “But it’s permeated across almost every area of the school. Our tenure-track faculty members are using it for their submissions. Our foundation department uses it for scholarship applications. Our testing center uses it for registration. IT uses it for requests to access a shared drive or update a mailbox. And we’re currently building an invoice-approval process.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the BCC 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, which students could access online. It outlined criteria for student needs and enabled students to check the status of their request online, removing 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.

As part of HEERF, higher education institutions were also granted funds for operational needs. In order to determine how the college would use the operational dollars, BCC also utilized a Laserfiche form to collect feedback and receive proposals from internal stakeholders. As with all financial decisions, the organization aims to ensure that all processes and outcomes are easily reviewed in the case of an audit.

BCC’s work with Laserfiche during the pandemic gave the organization the confidence that its automated processes could be rolled out on a much larger scale. But scaling up did not mean increasing costs — in fact, quite the opposite.

“We’ve saved the college 20,000 hours, at a minimum, just by automating processes that used to be manual. That’s upwards of $750,000, probably approaching $1 million dollars by now, in hard cost savings.

Ron Spaide, Chief Information Officer at Bergen Community College

Looking Ahead

BCC 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.

“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 BCC. “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. The transparency and collaboration that the system provides has been well received, and we look forward to expanding our use throughout the college.

Nishika Gupta, Managing Director of Records and Information Management at Bergen Community College

To learn more about how Laserfiche drives digital transformation, schedule a consultation today.

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