Document Management at Blue Valley USD
- By Linda L. Briggs
2/21/2007—Document management systems usually work quietly behind the scenes, but their effects can be noticeable in many school operations. Good document management can streamline accounts payable processes, make human resources more efficient, and--perhaps most important--improve student services.
At Blue Valley Unified School District in Johnson County, KS, electronic document management using Perceptive Software's ImageNow system has done all of those things and more. The district's goal in adopting the document management system was to improve operational efficiencies; as the system's usefulness becomes evident, Blue Valley continues to use its document management system in new ways.
Blue Valley's educational programs have garnered the Blue Ribbon distinction from the U.S. Department of Education 14 times; student dropout rate is less than 1 percent. Several years ago, the district, which has about 20,000 students, found that paper processes were creating an operations burden across a number of departments, reducing staff productivity, disrupting workflow, and using excessive storage space.
Document management systems work by allowing users to track and store scanned paper documents as electronic files. Such systems can reduce the storage space required to keep years of archival paper documents, and make it easier to find and retrieve documents later. They can also help cut paper costs, since once the system is in place, some papers need never be printed at all: They can spend their lives as electronic documents within the system.
Blue Valley's Human Resources department originally began the search for a document management solution, but two additional departments, accounts payable and student records, were then added to the project's scope. Each of the three departments is now using the system in different ways, according to Steve Davis, director of business operations at Blue Valley.
The student records department scans all records into ImageNow instead of storing them in paper format. "As students leave or graduate from the district," Davis says, "we can scan and store all of their materials," maintaining a complete history by student. If another district, or a college or university needs the records, Blue Valley can easily send copies. "We have a complete history by student of all the records that relate to them," Davis explains.
The accounts payable department is using ImageNow to scan paper invoices submitted by vendors. "After we're done paying them, instead of having file cabinets full of paper, we scan them in," Davis explains. The department still keeps paper copies, but nearly always uses the electronic versions. The imaging system allows them to search for documents in various ways, including by vendor or date.
The human resources department is planning to use the system in some new ways, including scanning job applications, performance evaluations, and other HR documents. "It's just an easier way of keeping [documents]," Davis says. "It's an operational efficiency."
Another advantage of the new system: If a needed file is stored in a building across town, "you don't have to drive over to get it," Davis says. Instead, anyone with the proper permissions can call up the document on the computer immediately.
Future plans for the district include integrating a barcoding ability in ImageNow. That will allow HR clerks to print out and attach a small barcode to any employee records, for example. Once the barcode is scanned in, the system recognizes it and files the document appropriately.
"Our primary goal in using ImageNow was just to become more efficient in how we handle documents," Davis says. "We've been able to accomplish that. There's still a need and a place for hard copies, but where we can, we're trying to move it to this imaging system."
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About the author: Linda L. Briggs is a freelance writer based in San Diego, CA.