The challenge facing educators, administrators and students is navigating through documents to find the right information at the right time. Document management is the answer to this challenge.
Benefits of Document Management in Education
People generate multiple versions of documents, especially during research or projects. Other documents that contain volatile data such as budgets or student population statistics must be updated periodically. Document management can ensure that the latest version of any document is available, while still enabling outdated versions to be stored and archived for retrieval when necessary.
Education often includes research and team projects, which require a method for documenting progress and sharing information while the project is in process. Document management offers a convenient, secure and accessible repository for structured and unstructured documents to facilitate research and teamwork.
Security and control
Much of an educational institution’s information is personal and the institution must protect the student’s privacy. Document management solutions offer strong security that allows only authorized people to access sensitive data. It can also maintain an audit trail of who accesses specific documents.
By its very nature, education creates structured and unstructured data. Student records are structured, but their work is unstructured. When considering students for special programs, grants or scholarship recommendations, it’s vital to have access to both types of material. Document management easily manages structured and unstructured data, making it simple to create a complete profile on any student or topic.
Without document management, people must go to multiple sources to create such a profile, and making sense of documents in multiple formats can be difficult. It is also easy to overlook critical documents during a search of random locations scattered over multiple repositories.
Backups and Storage
While individuals have good intentions, the reality is, most people do not back up data on a regular basis. Centralized storage in a document management repository helps ensure that all critical information is regularly backed up to prevent crippling loss in the event of a disaster.
In addition to ensuring that all documents are safely backed up, using a document management solution as a central storage repository can reduce the overall amount of storage the school must purchase and manage. There are no duplicate files taking precious space — and old documents can be archived or purged in accordance with government regulations and school policies.
There are strict laws governing the dissemination and storage of student information. Document management systems provide security and control that helps enable privacy while still providing ready access to documents and information when needed. In addition, standardized archival and document deletion procedures help ensure that information is retained for the entire period required by law.
Knowledge management and dissemination
Every school has policies that students, parents and educators must be aware of, and document management makes it easy to obtain access to documents and to record whether specific people accessed the documents. In addition, many colleges and universities publish “fast facts” documents for applicants and alumni, and document management is an effective strategy to manage various versions of the documents and conveniently publish them to the school’s website.
In 2014, about 21 million students attended higher education institutions in the U.S. In addition, 3.3 million students are expected to graduate from high school in the 2014-2015 academic year, and about 66 percent of them attend college immediately after graduation. That’s well over 2 million college applications, assuming each student only applies to a single college. Managing those applications and essays requires powerful organization to guarantee that the admissions committee members can find the information they need to make the right choices for their schools.
Document management is such a critical topic that it has become an area of specialization for IT professionals and educators alike. Even the National Center for Education Statistics publishes guidelines for providing access to data while protecting student privacy.
About the Author:
A forum participant and noted BPA industry contributor, Warren Glick is currently Director, Corporate Marketing for ACOM Solutions, Inc. Atlanta, GA and Long Beach CA. Serving in executive leadership roles in enterprise software organizations throughout his career, Warren has been responsible for developing and executing corporate strategies in product development, marketing, sales, and operations.