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Going Back to School with Document Management

4 May, 2006 By: Darrell Amy imageSource

Going Back to School with Document Management

education market is a consistent consumer of high volumes of copies and
printouts, handling an incredible amount of paperwork from transcripts and
graduation records to medical forms and documentation.

As student records often need to be kept indefinitely, school districts often
find themselves overloaded with paper and files. Finding records can be an
arduous task that may require days of searching only to end in frustration and
lost work hours.

Seeking to differentiate themselves as a value-added solutions provider to the
educational market, the Perry Corporation, an independent office equipment
dealer headquartered in Lima, Ohio, devised a plan to incorporate the use of
document management technologies that deliver additional value to their clients
while complimenting their existing product and service offerings.

Since 2002, Perry Corporation has grown its solutions services and implemented
document management technologies in 14 school districts throughout their rural
Ohio territory. Adding additional revenue streams has allowed Perry to report
increased income in both hardware and solutions sales while opening the doors to
new and exciting market opportunities.

Getting to the Top of the Class

One of the first school districts to adopt this technology was Auglaize County,
Ohio’s Educational Service Center (ESC) which was drowning in paperwork. As the
central service provider for six school districts, the center housed files that
went back to the 1940’s. With more documents being added every year, this was a
problem that was not going to go away.

In 2001, when the service center moved into a new facility, even less space was
available for file storage. That’s when they began to investigate an electronic
alternative. The schools in the district were already using copiers from Perry
Corporation and, as a trusted vendor, invited Perry to submit a proposal to
digitize their filing system.

“The challenge was and still is, twofold,” said Barry Clark, president of Perry
Corporation. “On one hand, the educational market is facing funding and budget
issues that make it increasingly difficult for them to afford new technologies
not directly related to the classroom, and on the other hand, the educational
market has not traditionally looked to our industry for software solutions.”

Not only did they have to come up with a proven document management solution,
they had to sell the customer on the future cost, time, and space saving
benefits for utilizing their plan.

The Perry Corporation recommended the Alchemy Advanced Server electronic
document management system (EDMS) from Captaris. The system allows school
records to be scanned and indexed for retrieval at each school.

“Most documents, including graduation records and transcripts, special education
records, school psychologist records, personnel records and board meeting
minutes must be kept indefinitely,” said Marilyn Johnson, the Administrative
Secretary for Auglaize County ESC. “If someone calls and requests a transcript
for a student that graduated 20 years ago, we need to be able to find it.”

To make retrieval simple, the solution included the Alchemy Web Client. This
allowed users at the school districts to search and retrieve documents through a
standard web browser like Internet Explorer.

The web interface made document retrieval incredibly simple for end users, and
no additional software was needed, something that Auglaize County ESC Network
Administrator, Brian Shaw, greatly appreciated. When having to manage an IT
infrastructure for schools scattered across a rural area, anything to simplify
network management is a plus for school districts.

The solution was rounded out with Alchemy’s Role-Based Access Control module.
This facilitated tight control over who was able to access which documents. The
system needed to be configured so users at each school could only see the
documents related to that particular school.

“With so many documents coming in on a daily basis, we knew the client needed
dedicated scanning,” said Jeff Boate, Solutions Sales Manager for the Perry
Corporation who proposed a dedicated Panasonic KVS6055 high-speed scanner. With
a large platen glass, the scanner would be able to scan graduation records that
are the size of a flat manila folder.


Since its implementation, the Alchemy system has become an integral part of the
service center’s operation. Users now retrieve documents on their computers at
each school district which dramatically reduces the distraction of incoming
requests for records.

“It’s cut down on secretarial time immensely,” said Johnson. “In seconds I can
have a document at my fingertips.”

The center also adopted a day-forward scanning strategy. Most old records are
kept in paper format. All new records are scanned when they arrive at the
service center office. “We have four people trained on scanning,” said Shaw.
“They rotate on the scanner throughout the day as they have time and, as time
allows, some of the older records such as board meeting minutes are scanned into
the system.”

The Future Looks Bright

“Schools today face numerous challenges, from budgetary concerns to regulatory
compliance with HIPPA or the No Child Left Behind Act,” said Boate. “But the
opportunities, including increased revenue and service to customers, are there
for dealers willing to put in the time and energy.”

Echoing his sentiments, Clark said, “Assuming you have the required skill-set
and support structures in place, you must aggressively position your company as
a solutions provider to the education market. Don’t make the mistake of assuming
that your clients (or even all your employees) understand that you have the
ability to deliver and support software solutions. You must understand the
financial condition of the education market in your area, even which grants
might be available to them, and have the ability to offer creative financing

“Besides creating an entirely new revenue stream from the solution sale itself,
selling solutions has opened doors for our MFP sales teams that were previously
closed. What starts as a software sale engagement often migrates into a hardware
solution as well,” continued Clark. “It has helped fuel profitable, double digit
growth in our core product divisions. Finally, selling solutions has brought us
a great sense of pride and satisfaction, as we can now deliver more value to our
clients than ever before.”

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