The Research Foundation of The City University of New York (RF-CUNY) eliminates paper burden, reduces costs, improves collaboration, and increases efficiency in Human Resources, Legal, Payroll and Finance & Procurement
The Research Foundation of the City University of New York (RF-CUNY) serves the nation’s largest urban public university, and manages grant awards exceeding $410 million in areas ranging from research in the natural and social sciences, training, job placement, curriculum planning, assessment, program evaluation, media production, and software development. The foundation has roughly 12,000 employees who serve in a variety of functions throughout CUNY’s 24 colleges, professional schools and off campus sights. The RF’s main function is to offer flexibility and respond quickly to the changing conditions and requirements of its many sponsors.
“Here at RF-CUNY we handle all the administrative functions associated with grants management so our researchers can focus on what they do best — research,” said Renato Rodriguez, assistant director, business systems analysis for RF-CUNY’s Systems & Information Services Department. “We manage all aspects of grant management including human resources, payroll, legal, finance and purchasing. If a researcher needs to hire an employee or purchase equipment – we review and handle the transaction to ensure that it meets regulatory, sponsor, Federal and State guidelines.”
RF-CUNY needed to cut costs, improve efficiency and reduce the bottlenecks that came as a result of managing the mass of paper documents produced by the foundations many departments. They wanted to reduce the physical storage space as well as make it easier for employees to access and retrieve documents from any location.
The organization had a legacy system to manage some of its documents, but it wasn’t sufficient to keep up with growing needs. “We needed a more agile and feature-rich solution to handle our volume of paperwork,” said Rodriguez. “Also, since we do a lot of our own in-house development, we needed it to integrate with our critical business systems.
In July 2015, RF-CUNY deployed DocStar Enterprise Content Management, a scalable, strategic platform that allows organizations to manage content securely—from capture to destruction.
“The DocStar web-based enterprise content management system allows us to share electronic documents quickly and effortlessly, and the total cost of ownership of the product was in line with our budget,” said Rodriguez. “We were also looking to gain efficiencies without drastically changing our current process. We didn’t want a product with a steep learning curve. It was really important that our employees could learn, accept and use the system effectively within a short time period. DocStar met all of these requirements.”
Rodriguez and his team, along with the DocStar Professional Services team, migrated approximately 1 million documents stored in the previous system and saw immediate improvements once the documents were in the DocStar central repository.
“The user interface and search capabilities are so much better,” said Rodriguez. “By scanning and storing our files into the system, we have seen a big difference in the visual clarity and quality of the documents; they are much easier to read, and we can find exactly what we are looking for since everything is indexed and searchable.”
RF-CUNY now stores most project-related documents in DocStar ECM—employee folders, contracts, invoices, correspondence and other documents related to grants are now centrally stored in one location, improving operational efficiency by giving employees controlled access to files anytime. This allows multiple teams to view the same version of the document. Information is always up-to-date and accessible. Commonly performed searches can be saved so that users don’t have to recreate them and sharing documents with external users is easy through the email feature in DocStar ECM.
As a result of implementing DocStar Document Management, RF-CUNY was able to reduce its paper burden as well as improve workflow and increase operational efficiency by storing project-related documents in a central location. The human resources department used DocStar to scan, store and retrieve employee documents across the entire enterprise. For increased security, documents have restricted access and are equipped with audit logs that can be reviewed by managers.
“The DocStar system’s integration tools have had a terrific impact on productivity,” says Rodriguez. “Previously, we had documents such as contracts that had to be sent back and forth for approvals and then scanned into the system. By utilizing DocStar’s Web Services, we can now take documents from our in-house systems and store them automatically in DocStar. We eliminated the need for the scanner in this specific instance to free employees ‘time to focus on the more pressing needs of our research teams.”
By integrating its homegrown system with DocStar, RF-CUNY has reduced the time its team spends performing routine functions; such as scanning, filing and retrieving records. The time previously required to coordinate contract approvals and access supporting documentation has also been significantly reduced. Rodriguez says the next step in the DocStar deployment is evaluating the potential for broader document storage and increased integration with new homegrown systems.
“We have had great feedback so far from our employees and are taking steps to implement DocStar in new areas of our organization. Our ultimate goal is to use it as a repository for all business documents – including all paper documents that need to be scanned as well as electronic documents processed by our homegrown systems. We have already started this process, and we are looking forward to continued success with DocStar.”
“Organizations in all sectors are recognizing the need to support greater ease of doing business and make processes less burdensome for customer and employees alike,” said Tom Franceski, vice president and general manager of DocStar. “Grant management requires extensive documentation, tracking and reporting, and with DocStar ECM, RF-CUNY is gaining greater access and new-found efficiencies via improved management, automated routing, and mobile access to key documents, for streamlined administration and compliance with grantor and institutional requirements.”