Over the last few decades, more and more people have gone to college as a prerequisite for getting ahead. Even though there’s a relative decrease in college admissions, nearly 40% of all 18 – 24 years olds in the United States are enrolled in some form of post-secondary education.
With the rising cost of college education, the occasional scandal, and other factors impacting people’s decision to get a formal education, higher education document automation is more important than ever.
In this guide, you’ll get a better understanding of what higher education document automation is, the benefits it brings to the table, and multiple use cases.
What is higher education document automation?
Let’s take a step back and look at what document automation is. Document automation is defined as the process of using technology to collect data related to documents, assemble those documents, and even carry out other steps in the document lifecycle without manual intervention.
For higher education document automation, the focus is on the types of documents you’re creating such as admission forms, transcripts, processing financial aid, and other types of documents.
The software used for document automation is wide and varied. The one you choose will depend on your specific needs. For now, let’s take a look at the benefits document automation can bring to the table.
Benefits of higher education document automation
Keep in mind that this list is by no means indicative of all the benefits you can gain from document automation. They’re just some of the more common or pronounced ones. Depending on your situation, you may be able to get way more benefits. Here are seven to pay attention to.
1. Enhanced Efficiency
One of the primary benefits of higher education document automation is enhanced efficiency. Automating document-related processes can help you reduce the time and resources required to manage large volumes of documents, such as student records and transcripts.
You’ll be able to process documents more quickly and accurately, reducing the time required for manual data entry and document verification. As a result, staff members can focus on higher-value tasks, such as advising students and conducting research. By automating document processing, institutions can save time, improve productivity, and reduce errors.
2. Improved Student Experience
Higher education document automation can also improve the student experience by streamlining document-related processes, such as transcript requests and degree verifications. Automated document processing makes it possible for students to receive their transcripts and other documents more quickly and with fewer errors, reducing the stress and anxiety associated with document-related delays.
It can also facilitate the provision of more personalized support to students by allowing staff members to access student records quickly and easily. This can improve the quality of advising and support services provided to students, which can lead to higher retention and graduation rates.
3. Cost Savings
Using this technology can help you save costs by reducing the need for manual document processing and data entry. Automated document processing can also help you avoid errors and mistakes that can result in additional costs, such as reissuing documents and correcting errors.
As you may be aware, the longer it takes to rectify an error, the more expensive it becomes.
Minimize costs by reducing the need for physical storage space. Electronic documents are stored in cloud-based systems that require less physical space and are more secure. By reducing the need for manual document processing and storage, you can save costs in multiple areas and either reinvest it or improve your bottom line.
4. Increased Security
Document automation facilitates reduced risk of physical document loss or theft. Store electronic documents in secure, cloud-based systems that provide access controls and audit trails to ensure that documents are accessed only by authorized personnel.
Automated document processing can also reduce the risk of document tampering and fraud by providing digital signatures and other security features that can verify the authenticity of documents. By improving document security, institutions can protect sensitive student information and prevent unauthorized access to confidential documents.
5. Compliance with Regulations
Higher education institutions are subject to various regulatory requirements, such as FERPA and GDPR, which govern the storage and processing of student data. Higher education document automation can help you ensure compliance with these regulations by providing secure document storage and processing that adheres to regulatory requirements.
Automated document processing can also provide audit trails and other documentation that can be used to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements. By automating document processing and ensuring compliance with regulations, you can protect yourself from legal and reputational risks.
6. Improved Analytics and Reporting
You can access analytics and various reports that provide insights into document-related processes, such as transcript processing and degree completion rates. Generate reports that provide insights into document processing times, error rates, and other metrics that can be used to improve document-related processes.
Automating document processes can also provide you with data that can be used to improve student retention and completion rates, by identifying trends and patterns that may indicate potential issues with student support or advising. By leveraging data and analytics, you can make informed decisions that improve student outcomes and drive institutional success.
You’re better able to adapt to fluctuating document volumes – especially if your institution is growing. Automated document processing can handle large volumes of documents without increasing staffing requirements, reducing the need to hire additional staff during times of high document processing demand.
You can easily scale up or scale down your volume as needed. This provides the flexibility to adapt to changing demands without incurring additional costs. By providing scalability, automated document processing can help institutions manage document processing more efficiently, reducing the need for manual intervention and streamlining document-related processes.
Use cases of higher education document automation
While there are many uses of higher education document automation – for both internal and external processes – here are the top:
1. Student Records Management
One of the primary use cases of higher education document automation is student records management. Higher education institutions generate large volumes of student records, including transcripts, diplomas, enrollment records, and degree verifications. Automating the management of student records can help you reduce the time and resources required to manage these documents, while also improving the accuracy and security of the records.
It can also help you streamline the process of record creation, storage, retrieval, and maintenance. Electronic document management systems can be used to automate document storage and retrieval, eliminating the need for manual filing and storage. This can help you reduce the costs associated with physical storage, while also improving the security and accessibility of the records.
2. Transcript Processing
Another use case of higher education document automation is transcript processing. Transcript processing involves the creation, maintenance, and distribution of academic transcripts for students. Automating this process helps reduce the time and resources required to manage transcripts, while also improving the accuracy and security of the documents.
Automated transcript processing can help institutions streamline the process of transcript creation and distribution. Electronic transcript systems can be used to automate transcript creation, thereby eliminating the need for manual data entry for transcript creation. You achieve reduced transcript processing time and improved accuracy and security.
3. Diploma Printing
Another use case of higher education document automation is diploma printing. Diploma printing involves the creation and printing of diplomas for graduating students. Automated diploma printing can helps reduce the time and resources associated with this process and improves the accuracy of the printed diplomas.
In other words, there’s less need to check and double-check before and after printing the diplomas. You won’t have to manually enter the data to print the diploma but, it’s important to make sure the data source is up-to-date and accurate.
4. Financial Aid Processing
Financial aid processing involves the creation, processing, and distribution of financial aid documents, such as financial aid applications, award letters, and student loan documents. Automated financial aid processing can drastically reduce the time and resources required to manage financial aid documents, while also improving the accuracy and security of the documents.
5. Admission and Enrollment Processing
For admission and enrolment, you’ll need to create, process, and distribute a large number of documents such as such as applications, transcripts, and test scores. Automated admission and enrollment processing can help institutions reduce the time and resources required to manage admission and enrollment documents.
What to consider before diving into higher education document automation
While there are countless benefits and use cases of document automation, there are some things that you need to watch out for.
- Change Management: Implementing automation can represent a significant change to your existing processes and workflows. Put a plan in place to manage change and ensure that your staff is prepared for the new processes.
- Technical Requirements: Automation systems can be complex and may require specialized hardware or software. Ensure that your institution has the necessary technical expertise and infrastructure to support the automation system.
- Data Quality: Automation relies on accurate data. Ensure that your data is accurate and up-to-date before implementing automation, as errors in your data can negatively impact the performance of your automation system.
- Scalability: Ensure that your automation system is scalable and can accommodate increasing volumes of documents and users as your institution grows. Ideally, you should be able to scale up or down with the click of a button.
- Vendor Selection: Choosing the right vendor is critical to the success of your automation implementation. Select a vendor with a proven track record of success in the higher education space, and that has the necessary technical expertise and support services to meet your needs.
- Integration Challenges: Integration with existing systems can be a significant challenge. Ensure that your automation system can integrate with your existing systems, and that your vendor has experience integrating with similar systems.
- User Adoption: Finally, ensure that your staff is fully on board with the automation implementation. Provide comprehensive training and support to help them understand the new processes, and communicate the benefits of automation to help encourage user adoption. Make it clear whether or not jobs will be lost so everyone is aware of what to expect.
Higher education document automation can deliver significant benefits to institutions, including increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved accuracy. Watch out for challenges such as change management, technical requirements, data quality, scalability, vendor selection, integration challenges, and user adoption.
By carefully planning for these challenges and working with a reputable vendor, you can successfully implement automation systems that provide significant benefits while minimizing risk.