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Education Case Study – Rush University Document Imaging Project

The Situation: Preserving Student Academic Records and Integrating an Electronic Retrieval Processes

Rush University faced a student records challenge familiar to many universities: accessing years’ and years’ worth of physical student records boxed up in a small but active file room.

Many of these student records were fragile due to age; some were in soon-to-be-outmoded media like microfiche and microfilm, and all of them had one thing in common: it was time consuming to find them when they were needed.

On top of that, they were simply running out of storage space at a time when space on campus was at a premium. They needed a comprehensive solution, and they needed it quickly.

“Our student records are irreplaceable,” said Gayle Ward, associate provost of Student Affairs. “We needed an imaging solution that would securely preserve them and streamline the document retrieval process.”

Getting Better at Information Management

The impetus for this project went well beyond simple records storage concerns. As part of their commitment to providing the best possible service to students and alumni, Rush University wanted to pursue a solution that would integrate technology to better manage and retrieve their student records. This required converting a century of physical documents and mixed media into electronic format that would work with their native software platform, OnBase.

High Standards Required for an Imaging Partner

The Rush University team was adamant about preserving the integrity of their collection of student records, and it was essential that any potential imaging partner would need to meet the following criteria:

  • Files had to be properly secured and accessible 24/7
  • The integrity of the entire collection must remain intact throughout the process
  • All scanned images had to be of professional quality, regardless of original state
  • The deliverables of the imaging project would have to improve information access, enhance management of student records and provide secure storage 

Rush University went through a comprehensive vetting process that occurred over a year and half because they were seeking the very best partner for this project. TAB was proud to be selected as Rush University’s imaging partner.

Peace of Mind: Information Security, Collection Integrity and Anytime Access

TAB’s imaging project methodology, developed over hundreds and hundreds of engagements, was modified to meet Rush’s unique security and access needs.

File boxes were picked up on campus and shipped to TAB’s Imaging Center, a completely secured facility. There, each box was examined individually and checked against the existing Rush University database.

A box manifest and number was then created for each individual box received. This created a current and completely accurate account of all records involved in the project.

Information requests from Rush University for files or records that were held at the Imaging Center were prioritized. Once a file was requested, it would be imaged in minutes and electronically transmitted to the Rush team.

The Scanning Process: Producing a High Quality Image

Image quality was paramount for the Rush University team, particularly since they were dealing with mixed media and dated paper records.

The TAB Imaging Center is equipped with state-of-the-art, high volume scanners capable of producing professional-grade images regardless of the original medium or format.

TAB’s knowledge workers subjected each scan to a rigorous Quality Assurance (QA) process on screen, checking image quality, image orientation, page breaks and other elements. Any imperfections or errors were detected and addressed immediately.

Tagging Images with Metadata

Once the scanned images passed through QA, TAB’s knowledge workers then attached the appropriate metadata to each image, including index values and naming conventions as determined by Rush University. Accurate metadata ensured that end-users would be able to easily search and find the new electronic records.

Releasing and Returning Information

Once the collection had been scanned, quality assurance complete and metadata attached, it was time to restore the collection to Rush University:

  • Images were released from TAB’s capture software onto a hard drive, to be uploaded into OnBase
  • Physical documents were matched to the original folder, pages placed into a new folder, and the folder replaced into appropriate box
  • All physical records were placed into secured storage at TAB’s Imaging Center

Better Information Management

Rush University, by partnering with TAB, had taken a big step toward their goal of leveraging technology to better access and manage their indispensable student records.

“The completed work positions Rush to take advantage of larger projects, such as moving to a fully electronic transcript system and building a better records retention schedule,” said David Nelson, director of student information systems and operations at Rush University. “We were thrilled with the speed of the project, and if we needed a file, TAB had it imaged and sent back to us within a matter of minutes. The image quality was just as requested and just like having the original on your desk.”

And by Rush storing their historical student records in TAB’s Imaging Center, they no longer had to face the prospect of staff taking time to find physical files in their file room!

Talk to TAB About Your Imaging Project

If your organization is thinking about imaging your physical records, please get in touch.

Download a PDF of the case study here.

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