Submitted by Peter Hanseen, MPA
Not long ago, my daughter told me about an interesting scenario that happened to her while at Junior High School. She told me that she somehow ended up on the short end of the iPad scramble in class, and the iPad she was left with was broken. While the rest of the class could access information related to the assignment everyone was given, she had to use a textbook! She explained to me the pains of locating information to which others had easy-to-use dropdown links. She agonizingly recounted how long it took her to complete the assignment using comparatively antiquated methods. A text book? Really?!
It’s great that our K-12 schools are teaching our children about the benefits of technology in the classroom. In fact, it’s necessary in order for them to be competitive in a rapidly changing world. We certainly want them to be successful as they navigate the vast world of information and its practical application. Ironically, these same schools that put together curriculum and provide chances for learning with the latest technology often seem to fall short in their utilization of these same technologies in managing their own important processes.
K-12 Educational Mission
No doubt the mission of K-12 educational personnel—from principals, teachers, and on down to the counseling and even office administrative personnel—is to tend to the needs of the students, to create an environment for supportive educational interactions, and to effectively run and manage the programs that enhance each student’s chances for success. Time—the commodity that allows for these key human interactions—is often in short supply. Antiquated processes rob individuals of time they could otherwise apply to higher-value activities with individual students.
Because operational processes in many K-12 schools and districts include “old school” (pun intended) paper processes, principals, counselors, teachers, and administrative personnel needlessly spend extra time managing paper-process activities. These activities affect curriculum and instruction, special educational programs, human resource records, sports programs, PTA activities, and more—and when these personnel could be spending this same time in higher-value proposition interactions with students and parents, opportunity is lost. The extra time expenditure in each of these areas almost universally applies to the time it takes to store, retrieve, and manage overall document workflow processes. Streamlining processes that impact the educational mission should always be looked at as a valuable activity.
K-12 Document Management Modernization—System and Process Traits
What tools and process traits should K-12 districts be aware of as they look to free up time and allow for increased involvement in higher proposition efforts?
- Propensity for User Adoption: Well-thought-out document management solutions that take into consideration familiar user interface design and logical process construct is a good starting point. If a system is too complex or not intuitive enough to use, the practicality behind the technology as a time-saving device can be diluted entirely. A document management system must make sense, be adopted quickly, and act without resentment by its consumer base in order to be positively impactful.
- Easily Configurable: The solution should be flexible and easy to apply to existing processes. If a solution is rigid and requires process changes to fit the solution—rather than the other way around—its ability to be applied broadly and affect multiple areas is limited. The broader the ability to meet diverse departmental needs, the greater value the solution carries. It’s not that it’s a one-size-fits-all proposition; it’s that the solution is easily configurable so that one purchase fits all the needs of different departmental areas.
- Store, Search, Share, Secure, and Support: The concepts behind a good document management system always fall back to several core process needs—storing, ease of search, simplicity of sharing, security, and what kind of support the solution providers give. The solution that will most benefit K-12 document management modernization will have well-thought-out answers to these processes and traits. Look to products that have been time-tested and evolved over years of customer utilization, have wide user adoption—which often speaks to how well the product answers to these core elements—and to a company that does not outsource its support delivery.
If you are researching or looking for ways to increase higher-value activities between students, their parents, teachers, faculty, and administrators, the often-overlooked area of document management processes should be given serious consideration as an improvement area that would free up time. Many districts are equipped to teach students the valuable concepts associated with technology advances, yet their day-to-day practices are inhibited by antiquated methods and tools. Contact eFileCabinet to learn how K-12 districts can take advantage of document management modernization to better serve the needs of their constituents.