University of Sydney takes records management online

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University of Sydney takes records management online

The University of Sydney has completed the second stage of a decade-long move from paper to an electronic records keeping system.

Working with systems integrator Alphawest during the past four years, the university has implemented the Records Online 2 Web interface, which allows staff to create and manage student records online.

The implementation, which is estimated to have cost $160,000, has already delivered an annual return on investment of $675,000.

According to University of Sydney’s acting registrar Tim Robinson, Records Online 2 currently has 1,500 users out of a prime audience of 2,800 administrative staff.

It is estimated to have saved 10 minutes per week of physical filing work and reduced the need to create 10 or more physical files each year for 40 percent of its users.

Staff members are being introduced to the system in groups, in line with the project’s cautious approach to change management.

“One of the fundamental things we decided from the outset was that we weren’t going to go for the big king hit,” Robinson told iTnews.

“Making things simple is always time consuming,” he said, describing an aim to make the records keeping system user-friendly while maintaining a suitable privacy and access regime.

“An enormous amount of thought went into it; we knew that if it wasn’t simple, it would not be used,” he said.

The university took its first step away from its traditional paper registry in 2000, with the implementation of the Captira management tool in the back end.

Online search functionality was added shortly after, but it wasn’t until 2007 when users were able to access 98 percent of records management functions online.

The latest implementation of Records Online 2 now integrates the university’s records system with its business system, as well as allowing staff to access records via Microsoft Outlook.

Robinson noted that each stage of the implementation required ‘a lot’ of training for staff, estimating the cost of training to equal that of hardware and software combined.

“With an organisation as big as the Uni, we knew that we couldn’t train all these people in one go,” he told iTnews, describing one-on-one, roadshow, and small group training options.

After all administrative staff members are trained, the next challenge for Robinson’s team will be to introduce the Records Online 2 to academic staff, so they can access student records more efficiently.

Looking forward, Robinson expects the university to be looking to update its records management system again within the next three years.

He mentioned Microsoft Office SharePoint and an Open Source system that is in development at Curtin University as candidates.

“We’re always looking at what the next stage is,” he said. “I’m guessing by three years time, there will be some significant changes, and we’d be looking to update our systems.”
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