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Doing More with Less: Improving Operational Efficiency through Technology and Innovation

By Cindy Skaruppa, VP, Enrollment Services, Cleveland State University And Janet Stimple, Assistant Vice President, Enrollment Services, Cleveland State University

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Cindy Skaruppa, VP, Enrollment Services, Cleveland State University

In today’s higher education landscape where doing more with fewer resources is the norm, leveraging technology to improve processes and gain efficiencies is imperative. Over the past several years Cleveland State University (CSU) has been automating, integrating and redesigning processes in Enrollment Services to streamline operations and meet the demands of achieving enrollment goals with an ever shrinking resource base. Improving our administrative operations has resulted in a positive impact. Not only have we realized greater efficiency but also increased our capacity to support information-based decision making.

“CSU Has Been Automating, Integrating, and Redesigning Processes in Enrollment Services Operations to Streamline and Meet Enrollment Goals”

 Automation: If you have infor­mation electronically, then leverage it

In partnership with CSU’s division of Information Services & Technology, we have automated functions within our SIS environment to reduce pro­cess times which has allowed us to significantly increase volume with less human capital.

• Admission decisions for new Freshmen, Transfers and even some graduate programs have been au­tomated. Prior to this automation admission decisions were entered manually for each applicant. Since going live in November of 2014, this automation has streamlined a process that used to take 1-3 min­utes per transaction to about 1 per second. With over 17,000 decisions processed, that translates to sav­ing over 400 man hours in less than 3 years.

• In June 2016, Automation of Trans­fer G.P.A. ,calculations for transfer admission which takes into account all prior institutions a student at­tended went live. Prior to this, proj­ect evaluations were computed by hand for each individual applicant. This project (which paved the way for automating transfer admission decisions) automated the calculation and data entry of this data which took upwards of two-three minutes per ap­plicant. To date the process has cal­culated transfer admission G.P.A’s for over 3000 students realizing savings of 140 man hours in less than a year.

• Ohio’s public Universities and Colleges all exchange transcripts electronically using the PESC xml standard. While many institutions take this information and render it to a pdf document for view­ing and manual data entry, CSU has taken it a step further by Importing XML transcript data directly into our SIS for eventual transfer credit evaluation and articulation. This has allowed us to almost completely re­move the data entry required to process incoming transcripts both for admission decisions and for the evaluation of transfer credit. Since June 2014, when CSU went live with automating transcript imports we have loaded nearly 19,000 transcripts automatically. We are loading 6500 transcripts and 100,000 courses annually in an au­tomated fashion. While this process does not remove the need for manual review of the data being imported, it does eliminate an enormous amount of staff time spent doing data entry and removes any erroneous data that comes along with doing this manually. On average, this process saves eight minutes per transcript for over 850 hours in time savings annually.

Integration: Getting software applications working together, for the institution and for our students

CSU uses multiple third party systems to facilitate vari­ous functions by which we have been able to capitalize on efficiencies with enhanced integrations. Not only are we creating operational efficiencies, but we are also providing a better, easier, and more streamlined service for our applicants and students.

• Student facing document upload for both admis­sions and financial aid- Through integration with our student self-service portal, our SIS and our document imaging system, we have been able to automate elec­tronic document submission, virus scanning, indexing and the importing of our financial aid documents and admissions documents into our document management system. This has not only made it convenient for applicants and students to submit required materi­als, but it has also eliminated the need for manual scanning and in­dexing of paper.

Over 12,000 application related documents are uploaded by ap­plicants annually and are integrat­ed into our document management system. We are accepting documents such as writing portfolios, financial doc­uments, and recommendation letters.

Over 2500 Financial Aid related materials are uploaded by students annually and are inte­grated into our document management system. We are accepting documents such as W2s, tax returns, and ver­ification worksheets.

Manually scanning and indexing these documents required approximately two minutes per document, thus this integration realizes 480 hours in time savings per year.

• Transcript ordering integration -In June 2016, CSU went live with a transcript ordering services. As a result of this new service, CSU took the opportunity to build integration between our SIS that would not only receive a transcript order, but would process the order automat­ically in our SIS and even send the transcript orders to a printer (or send electronically for Ohio schools) all by the click of a single button. Since going live in June, CSU has managed over 12,000 transcript orders in an auto­mated fashion. The integration has reduced staff time on task from around a minute per order to seconds realiz­ing a 70 percent reduction in staff time on task all while providing our students with expanded service and order options.

All-in-all institutions of higher education have an enormous number of opportunities for creating effi­ciencies and better service for our customers. Collab­oration among the various units at your institutions is key to identifying and leveraging these opportunities. It’s about asking the hard questions of how we need to change our roles and business processes. The close col­laboration between CSU’s Enrollment Services division and Information Services and Technology division has and will continue to create very tangible benefits to our customers and our operations. So break out of your silos, collaborate and witness the benefits of collaboration, in­novation and creativity.

Founded in 1964, Cleveland State University is a public urban research university that provides a dynamic setting for engaged learning.