Oakwood University Centralizes Data and Streamlines Processes to Improve Student Outcomes
3 min read
Oakwood University transformed student services by replacing its legacy document imaging system with Laserfiche to increase efficiency, reduce paper use and eliminate ineffective manual processes. By automating rudimentary processes with Laserfiche, the university has reclaimed staff and student time and redirected it toward student success.
Adopting a Culture of Automation on Campus
Oakwood University is a private, historically black university located in Huntsville, Alabama. The university, which services nearly 1,800 students, aims to provide the kind of education that will prepare students for the workplace. In order to achieve its mission, the university made it a priority to adopt a culture of automation to meet the expectations of today’s tech-savvy students.
“One of the strategic goals that the Oakwood University leadership team has been working toward is developing a culture of automation on campus,” says Oakwood University interim CIO Anthony Walker. “We are actively working to update manual, paper-driven processes. These updates will enable us to operate as efficiently as possible, ensuring the best possible experience for current and prospective students.”
In order to transform into a modern campus, Oakwood University assessed its technology and determined that it would need to replace a legacy document imaging system since it lacked the ability to automate processes. The university then turned to Laserfiche to improve efficiency, reduce paper use and eliminate ineffective manual processes.
Streamlining the Graduations Clearance Process
One of the first processes automated with Laserfiche was the graduation clearance process. Like many universities, in order to graduate from Oakwood, students need to obtain graduation clearance. This involves obtaining signatures from their advisor, the registrar and other university staff which previously took months. Students had to carry a paper form to multiple locations around campus to obtain all the necessary signatures. Students would have to start this process months in advance in order to graduate on time.
By redesigning the process using Laserfiche Forms instead of paper forms, Oakwood University reduced processing time from months to just a few weeks and increased transparency throughout the entire process. Additional benefits include:
- If the students are not cleared, they are notified more quickly so that they have time to take remedial measures and graduate on time.
- Advisors are not tied to their desks in order to review requests; they have the ability to do everything from mobile devices.
- Students are notified throughout the entire process, eliminating trips and phone calls to the registrar’s office to confirm the status of requests.
Servicing Students at the Highest Level
Since adopting Laserfiche, Oakwood University has capitalized on an automated approach to student services.
“By leveraging process automation, the university has automated rudimentary tasks, allowing staff members to serve students in a quicker and more efficient manner,” Walker explains.
Some of the student-facing processes that have been enhanced through automation include:
- General change form: Student requests including those relating to graduation and transcript changes can be submitted online, automatically routed to both administrators and students for review and approval, and filed in a standardized student record structure.
- Photo ID importing: All new and updated student and employee photos are easily imported into Laserfiche from an external database, enabling seamless sharing of photos across departments.
- Transcript request and review: Students request transcripts online, and administrators can easily send documents using workflows that automatically handle PDF creation.
- Grant management: Staff use Laserfiche to increase communication and awareness of available grants, and coordinate the process of gathering required materials for grant applications.
“Oakwood University now has a holistic view of each student’s academic history, allowing professors to create a plan of action based on data if a student starts to fall behind,” says Walker. “This is a critical component in ensuring student success.”
In addition, Oakwood University also provides an opportunity for students to become gold certified in the Laserfiche technology. This training—that would typically cost thousands of dollars for future employers—give students a leg-up in the competitive job market, as well as higher paid work opportunities on campus to support the Laserfiche system.
“Not only is Laserfiche enabling us to provide personalized support and guidance for each individual student, but it’s also allowing us to help students achieve tangible, professional success,” says Walker. “Our mission is to prepare students for their professional future, and Laserfiche is helping us achieve this.”