The education market is often overlooked by resellers because the bidding and sales process can be complex. However, educational institutions are one of the largest consumers of document imaging solutions. Academia thrives on paper, and the more paper it generates, the harder it is to manage. Smart universities’ school districts are incorporating paperless processes to hold back the flood of paperwork. This presents a golden opportunity to offer document imaging solutions to address specific paper workflow problems unique to education.
If you consider the growth of the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) market, of which document imaging is a component, business is booming. According to the latest forecast from MarketsandMarkets, the ECM market is going to grow from $6.78 billion in 2014 to $12.32 billion by 2019 at a compound annual growth rate of 12.7 percent. Of the vertical markets mentioned in the report, academia and education was cited as one of the segments that should be quite promising.
The demand for document imaging solutions in education is driven by the same factors as in any other industry; the need to streamline paper processes. However, in educational environments there are specific use cases and applications which you can use to help you sell the solution.
1. Educational administration – Like any business, educational institutions circulate a lot of paper to the point where there is an incredible amount of paper waste and lost documentation. Adopting document imaging solutions for paperless processes is something from which all schools can benefit.
In the case of the Ryburn Valley High School, for example, one of the tasks for administration is tracking preplanned absences and notifying instructors. This means processing paper notes from parents, making copies, and walking them across a very large campus to various teachers. A simpler strategy was adopted to save time and paper – scanning the absentee requests and distribute them via email. Similarly, the bursar’s office at Ryburn Valley High processes mountains of financial documents to assess financial support, including logging forms, receipts, and other paperwork that has to be circulated for review. Scanning the necessary paperwork makes review and approvals much more efficient and ensures student privacy.
2. College admissions – The college admissions process is even more complex, requiring admissions officers to process applications, essays, letters of recommendation, transcripts, financial aid forms, and much more. Some of these processes have already been digitized but many have not. Using document scanning solutions to convert paper to digital files makes it easier to consolidate student applications information for circulation and review. Using a secure central data repository makes certain the information is secure as well as accessible. The result is a more secure digital archive that follows the student through his schooling and faster decision-making.
3. Research and collaboration – University professors have to manage volumes of paperwork between dealing with undergraduate papers, master’s theses, dissertations, and their own research. Keeping track of all that paper can be daunting. It also poses new problems for educational collaboration, especially if you have to share data with colleagues at a distance or have to submit a manuscript for publication.
Consider the experience of Dr. Joonhong Ahn, professor of nuclear engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Ahn is responsible for both undergraduate and graduate classes as well as his own scientific studies. He found a document imaging solution that allowed him to convert paper to digital files, converting 10,000 sheets of paper to PDFs in the first month. His office was once a sea of paper and overflowing file cabinets, but now he stores everything electronically. And rather than spending 10 to 15 minutes searching for papers, he now accesses them with one or two keystrokes.
4. Rare documents – Many education institutions have rare manuscripts that documents that have been acquired or donated. These historic documents are often fragile and will deteriorate with excessive handling or exposure to light. Rather than allowing scholars to access the original documents, most historic archives provide facsimiles of rare documents for study. Converting these rare papers to digital form not only makes them easier to access without damaging them, it also makes it easier to share with scholars around the globe without requiring them to leave their own campus.
5. Regulatory compliance – Publicly funded institutions are governed by legislation and often have to maintain a paper trail to validate any number of decisions, from admissions policies to budgetary decisions. Digitizing university paperwork for storage in a central repository creates a secure archive that supports decisions and activities, and the digitized paperwork can be catalogued for easy retrieval in the event of an audit.
6. Instructional materials – A common use of document scanning solutions in school settings is to capture and disseminate instructional material. While copying instructional materials to store on a server or use in a classroom use seems reasonable, the practice runs the risk of copyright infringement and violating the definition of fair use. Many educational institutions are very cautious about reproducing copyrighted materials. Almost all schools and universities have policies in place to prevent copyright violations. When selling document imaging solutions to educational customers you may want to ask about their protocols for protecting copyrighted materials.
These are just six use cases that show how schools and universities are benefiting from document imaging solutions. There are many more, but the common theme is to develop more paperless processes to save time and overhead. What use cases do you see as particularly valuable in selling to educational customers?