Information Technology's (IT) Efficiency Gains campaign has one primary focus only—giving our students the best experience possible and contributing to their success. The partnerships and collaborations around the University are an integral part to Pepperdine's success. Each of the IT staff areas are grateful for the joint efforts around the community in enhancing the student experience and in helping Pepperdine achieve greatness.
Casual conversation sparks an efficiency gains project for the Registrar's Office
At the beginning of every semester, the Registrar's Office goes through the daunting class roster auditing process, which involves hundreds of emails between faculty and Registrar staff to accurately enroll or drop students from their class. These emails containing course enrollment were merged with data from large CSV files/reports of class enrollment from PeopleSoft and sent to the individual instructors via email. Professor replies were manually recorded and tracked on a very large spreadsheet. These requests for enrollment changes were then scanned into Nolij. This process would continue with individual follow-up emails until every student was accounted for.
Through a casual conversation about work between Carly Struna of Information Technology and the Registrar staff, Carly knew there had to be an easier way. Carly, with the help of Ronit Weiss from the EIS team, decided to tackle this project and do whatever they could to find a more efficient way to process class audits for their colleagues in the Registrar's Office and the University.
In August, Carly and Ronit—in collaboration with Eva Reid (Seaver), Bryan Reeder (Seaver), Arminda Lerma (GSEP), Valerie Nowacki (GSBM), and Deborah Galuhn (GSBM)—developed and launched the new PeopleSoft Class Roster Audit process. This is a custom, bolt-on component within PeopleSoft, and it is accessible through the WaveNet Faculty Center. It allows both faculty and Registrar staff to process auditing requests online.
"Using the old method of processing the class roster audit, I would receive 900 — 1,000 emails (within seven days) each fall and spring term, and approximately 450 — 500 during the summer sessions for Seaver College.
The new PeopleSoft Class Roster Audit Process has eliminated this inefficient means of communication," said Eva Reid, Grade Services Supervisor for the Seaver Office of Student Information and Services.
"The class roster audit is now processed in real-time, ensuring greater accuracy. Professors simply go to WaveNet and process the class roster audit. With one click of a button they can communicate to the Registrar's Office the status of the class and if any students should be added or dropped. Transforming the Class Roster Audit process has considerably reduced the amount of time needed to process requests. I don't need to sort through 1,000 emails to determine which ones to process. PeopleSoft has simplified one of my tasks and created a timesaving and accurate procedure for the Registrar's Office to be proud of."
This new Class Roster Audit process went live in August, and the first round of Fall 2014 audits have been completed for Seaver and GSEP.
"Incorporating the Class Roster Audit into the WaveNet Faculty Services page was brilliant," said Gary Selby, Professor of Communication at Seaver. "Before this change, it was a cumbersome process — I'm sure it also was a major headache for the Registrar's office personnel. Now I can look through the online roster, which gives me the class list in real time, and with one click, take care of the roster audit."
"This epitomizes IT's 'efficiency gains' initiative, and it is a perfect example of the conversations and collaborative processes that EIS strives for," Carly Struna said. "We had a conversation with a colleague, which resulted in a better understanding of their business process, and as a team, we all brainstormed on how to streamline/improve this process using existing technology."
AppDev partners with Financial Assistance Office to streamline efax
Pepperdine's Application Development team worked with the Office of Financial Aid at Seaver College to fully automate the efax process—a heavily manual process that took hours was reduced to minutes.
As most can imagine, acquiring financial aid requires a lot of paper processing. Interested students must fax in applications with supporting information and several signatures to be reviewed by the Office of Financial Aid for consideration. Prior to the AppDev solution, financial aid applicants sent in their applications via fax, which was then delivered securely to the Financial Aid email inbox via Pepperdine's secure attachments service Accellion. From there, staff would then have to open each faxed file, print out the documents, and then scan and file it into Pepperdine's Nolij system.
"When we originally began the transition to a paperless process, there were a series of tedious, time-consuming steps that we were locked into because of security considerations," Director of Financial Assistance at Seaver College Janet Lockhart said.
In order to eliminate the manual scanning and filing to Nolij and to maintain strict security standards, the AppDev team, including Nikolai Cook and Marc Olano, used a multi purpose API (application programming interface) developed internally by AppDev to create a service that runs every five minutes to automatically push efax files from Accellion into Nolij.
"With a lot of hard work, Nikolai and Marc have developed a process that bypasses this step and allows us to spend more time actually working with the documents than trying to get them in the system. Another huge benefit is that the documents are moved into Nolij in nearly real-time. This means our faxed documents can, for the first time, show almost the exact time that they were received," Janet said.
With this new efficiency gain, the Office of Financial Aid is able to catch up on some of the backlog that is inevitably created when so many documents require a manual process. Janet said this has allowed the department to provide a much higher level of service, by being able to better predict timetables and provide better tracking with the real-time time stamping.
AppDev will continue to partner with various departments across the university to examine business processes that could help our colleagues deliver the best service to our students.
eSign streamlines Pepperdine's document signing processes
In November, eSign was created by IT's Application Development team, which includes Eric Laufenburger, Marc Olano, Nikolai Cook, Abrash Khanmalek, and project manager Reyn Oyadomori. This team has worked months to create an online application that will streamline the document signing processes at Pepperdine.By incorporating the Adobe Echosign product, the AppDev team was able to customize an application programing interface (API) that would fit the needs of the entire Pepperdine community.
The application works by simply uploading a PDF document to be signed, entering the email addresses of those who you wish to sign, and clicking "Send out for signatures." eSign then sends the document to Adobe Echosign, which routes the document to all signers listed. Signers can sign from their desktop, laptop, and mobile device — anywhere they have Internet access.
After all signatures are collected, the owner/originator of the document receives a final copy of the document with all the signatures via Accellion (Pepperdine's Secure Attachments Server) or saved to the owner's folder in Nolij (Pepperdine's document imaging storage system).
The eSign team met with Advancement, Athletics, the Center for Estate and Gift Planning, Corporate and Foundation Relations, Human Resources, Integrated Marketing Communications, Library, the Office of Student Information and Services, Planning Operations and Construction: Finance and Operations, the Provost's Office, Seaver College, the School of Law, the School of Public Policy, Student Activities, and Student Employment over the past few months to see how eSign could improve their business processes.
In fact, Finance recently released that the exceptions request payment is to be entirely processed using eSign. Since June 1, there have been 447 documents completed using eSign. Sixty-four percent of those documents were electronically signed within two days.
Use eSign Today!
Use eSign today by logging on at http://esign.pepperdine.edu. For assistance with eSign or to learn how eSign can streamline your department's signing needs, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
University Business Magazine Honors Pepperdine University for Being a "Model of Efficiency"
Pepperdine University is one of nine colleges and universities nationwide being honored by University Business magazine in its summer 2014 "Models of Efficiency" national recognition program. Sponsored by Higher One, a company that provides financial services and data analytics to colleges across the U.S., the Models of Efficiency program recognizes innovative approaches for streamlining higher education operations through technology and/or business process improvements.
Pepperdine was recognized for its use of Adobe EchoSign a web-based program that collects digital signatures for documents and contracts. Last August, the IT division used EchoSign to collect employee signatures for the yearly Code of Ethics form. In the past, the process involved emailing the form to all 80+ IT staff members, who were instructed to print, wet-sign, and deliver (in person or via intra-campus mail) the form back to IT Administration. This process often took 2-3 weeks before all signatures had been collected. In 2013, all employee signatures were submitted in a single day.
"EchoSign has helped Pepperdine cut costs and improve productivity, giving faculty, and staff more time to work on activities that directly benefit students," commented Jonathan See, CIO.
In addition to Pepperdine University, summer 2014 Models of Efficiency honorees included: Madison College (Wis.); Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Fla.): Fairfield University (Conn.); Western Michigan University; Illinois Institute of Technology; Drexel University (Pa.); Houston Community College (Texas); and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. To learn more about the Models of Efficiency recognition program, please visit www.universitybusiness.com/moe.