Solutions

Boston University

Leading U.S. language program dramatically reduces student check-in time and increases access and efficiency. A FileMaker solution running on iPad and desktops is at the heart of student enrollment process.

FileMaker solution for iPad tames paper chase at Boston University

Overview

  • For international students, study in the U.S. can be daunting—especially considering the documentation required. Boston University streamlines the document management process using a custom-developed app based on the FileMaker Platform.

Industry

  • Higher Education

Solutions

  • Used a custom FileMaker solution running on iPads to manage document collection and management for incoming international students.

Benefits

  • Slashed up-front document collection time by more than 50%; moved from copiers to iPads; secured sensitive information; assisted with federal audits; reduced wait times for students; increased time available for one-on-one admissions and academic advising of students.
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CELOP has replaced cumbersome paper-based processes with a new, automated document management system created using the FileMaker Platform.

At Boston University’s Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP), one of the leading intensive English as a Second Language (ESL) schools with 1,700 students per year, admissions day for incoming international students and visiting scholars was once a paper-intensive, time-consuming experience.

But now, instead of relying solely on paper records, CELOP is at the forefront of efficiency when it comes to admissions. CELOP has replaced cumbersome paper-based processes - which occur 10 or more times a year - with a new, automated document management system created using the FileMaker Platform. The system includes a custom solution running on iPads and desktops.

"Previously, the biggest drag on our admissions process was just gathering and organizing paper documents," says Hakan Rudy Seber, systems support specialist at Boston University Global Programs. "With our FileMaker solution for the iPad, we’ve cut in half the up-front document collection time per student, reducing scanning time from two minutes per document to less than one minute. The system is so fast that we now get positive comments instead of complaints. The FileMaker Platform has put us on the leading edge."

The speed with which we built this entire document management solution is a testament to the FileMaker Platform’s ease of use and the helpfulness of the FileMaker community.

— Hakan Rudy Seber, systems support specialist,
—— Boston University Global Programs

Quickly entering documents with iPads

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The new system provides a valuable service to students. Staff use iPads running the FileMaker Go client and the CNS barcode app.

Previously, giant copiers were hauled into the reception area from elsewhere at CELOP—borrowed from faculty busy preparing class materials for the new semester—so that staff could copy the required immigration documents from incoming students. They stood in long lines and took several minutes each to copy all of the necessary paperwork.

For incoming students, completing the required paperwork is paramount. From Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 Form and Customs and Border Protection’s I-94 arrival and departure records to copies of passports and even bank guarantee statements, students can be responsible for up to six individual documents. Anywhere from five to eight copies of all the various documents for various agencies are required per student for entry to the university, totalling almost 4,500 pages collected, sorted and stored every semester. At the end of the flurry of paperwork, students receive a testing room number for evaluating current English skills.

The new system provides a valuable service to students. Staff use iPads running the FileMaker Go client and the CNS barcode app. They operate from several iPads at the central admissions desk or rove wirelessly through the throngs of arriving international students, scanning in images of the students’ documents. The scanned documents are tagged with the student’s university ID number, which associates them with the correct FileMaker record. Documents can be accessed immediately from Mac or Windows computers running FileMaker Pro.

20-minute audits reduced to seconds

Although students are ultimately responsible for maintaining their own documentation, Boston University CELOP must take care to keep proper records. The Department of Homeland Security can conduct impromptu audits to ensure that documents such as Visas all are in place. In the case of an audit, Boston University’s CELOP admissions team or the Designated School Official, responsible for approving documentation, can now pull up a student’s record and associated paperwork in seconds. Previously, the auditing process involved a 20-minute process of digging through individual file folders.

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At Boston University, many processes are administered using the FileMaker Platform.

Custom solution in an afternoon

The IT team, in coordination with the admissions team, researched and tested various digital document management solutions but ultimately chose the FileMaker Platform due to its ease of use, power, and security. Security, an important factor because the university stores personal information, is assured because the data is stored on a secure FileMaker Server, not on iPads. And all data communications between server and iPad are secure and encrypted.

At Boston University, many processes are administered using the FileMaker Platform, so familiarity among IT professionals with FIleMaker is widespread at the school. After selecting the FileMaker Platform for this particular application, Seber created the solution himself, literally in a single afternoon, including integrating it with CNS Barcode—an app he’d heard about at the FileMaker Developer Conference. The solution, including back-end server and FileMaker Go client for iPad, then went completely live three business days later, just in time for the summer semester student check-in.

"The speed with which we built this entire document management solution is a testament to the FileMaker Platform’s ease of use and the helpfulness of the FileMaker community," Seber says.

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Students of Boston University’s CELOP program appreciate the speed of processing documents.

Improving customer satisfaction

Students of Boston University’s CELOP program appreciate the speed of processing documents. They know that because of CELOP’s comprehensive, digital document management solution, they are put straight through for baseline language testing and, ultimately, granted an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for a F-1 visa allowing them to study full-time in the U.S. within a given timeframe. For Boston University, that translates into improved customer satisfaction and operational efficiencies in CELOP student enrollment at a time when international enrollment is at an all-time high for the university.

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com

For Boston University:

Hakan Rudy Seber
Systems Support Specialist II
Boston University Global Programs
617-358-2499
hrseber@bu.edu
www.bu.edu

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