The Paper-Chase – Solutions for Universities and Higher Education

The Paper-Chase – Solutions for Universities and Higher Education

Digitize documents with InStream document conversion services and Digital Reel

The higher education world is full of paper – no secret there. Think of a university with thousands or tens of thousands of students. They’re required to keep each student’s records, from admissions documents and transcripts to financial aid forms, for years after he or she has graduated. Like any organization, colleges have to hold on to their internal HR/personnel and financial records for years as well. Then there are the documents university administrators aren’t required to keep, but they do anyway, documents like purchase orders and maintenance records.

That all adds up to a lot of paper. Often, it’s either in boxes or file drawers on-campus or stored off-site with a 3rd party, at a cost. Another possibility is that, somewhere along the line, the university migrated its paper to microfilm.

Whether they’re storing paper or they’ve previously converted all their paper to microfilm, forward-looking universities are going digital. It makes retrieving information faster, easier and less expensive, given the labor- and time-intensive nature of searching through boxes of physical paper. Converting paper documents frees valuable square footage for a use other than storage, and frees you from the potential of spending thousands in monthly storage costs. Universities are also transferring all their microfilm to digital files with Instream’s Digital Reel solution for the same efficiency reasons.

Process improvement through eform and workflow automation solutions

As with most organizations, universities don’t lack for processes – or opportunities for process improvement. Administrative processes, such as HR onboarding, AP invoice processing, expense approval, PO/receipt storage and more, are prime targets for digital workflow automation if currently handled manually. The same thing can be said about university-specific processes, including application processing and student record storage.

InStream offers universities eform and workflow solutions for exactly that purpose. There are no limits to the number or types of processes that can be converted to a digital workflow with automation. You could say the same for eforms; they can make virtually any process more efficient. Both workflow and eform solutions speed-up processing, make it easier to locate files and documents, and create full audit trails for compliance purposes. Additionally, storing data in a digital state makes it easy to collect and manipulate data for your university’s varied reporting needs. All files are located in one place, and, with eforms, there’s never a concern about using outdated versions of forms since university employees and students would only be given access to the latest version.

Automating travel reimbursement with InStream’s TRAV System

Here’s an example of how one university system used our Instream digitization, workflow automation and eform services to streamline and fool-proof their travel reimbursement processes.

Travel requests are traditionally paper-based, but InStream helped one university system digitize this process through the development of the TRAV (Travel Reimbursement and Vouchers) System. InStream’s TRAV System streamlines the travel request process by using intelligent electronic forms to automatically calculate per diems, regulate disbursements and populate the final voucher, saving the traveler and the business office time. Every step in the process, from initial travel request to final reimbursement, now happens faster and mistake-free.

This multi-campus university system uses the TRAV System’s per-diem feature to help employees manage the widely fluctuating costs of travel throughout the state. For instance, a dollar doesn’t go as far in a major city as it does in a smaller town, and hotel rooms cost more in peak season than they do off-season.

University administrators set per diems based on where and when the trip occurs. With so many variables, some employees, in the past, inevitably used the wrong per diem to calculate their travel expenses. Reimbursement would then be refused and the employee asked to submit a corrected form – sometimes multiple times.

Those days are now gone. InStream solved the problem by integrating the university system’s zip code and calendar-based per diem allowances into an intelligent form. Now, employees click on a zip code in the form, and their per diem automatically calculates.

Costs, consistency, accuracy and efficiency matter to colleges and universities as much as they do any business. As with most large organizations, document management and process management are two target-rich environments for improvement. InStream offers an array of solutions and competencies explicitly geared for higher education. Contact us to learn more.


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