Case Studies, In The News

Iowa School District Revolutionizes Paper Process with ‘Cutting Edge’ Solutions

Mt. Pleasant Emblem Outside“We had been so reliant on paper, and when you start talking about a paperless solution people start to doubt you,” says Ed Chabal, Director of Business and Finance for the Mt. Pleasant Community School District. “But we persuaded them it would really help. They could see that etfile is really a different solution. I referred to it as ‘cutting edge’.”



THE CUSTOMER

Ed Chabal is the Director of Business and Finance for the Mt. Pleasant Community School District in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. The district has about 2,200 students, and Ed oversees the operation of the business office.

THE CHALLENGE

Managing the business and finance for a school district is a document-heavy operation. Even a relatively small district like Mt. Pleasant has a lot of paper coming in and out of its doors every day. And that paper – student and personnel records, compliance documents, vendor invoices etc. – has to be tracked and stored.

One of Ed’s biggest concerns was the document archiving and retrieval process. They started scanning their records around 2003, using a basic Canon scanner, and writing them to CD. But Ed was never truly satisfied with the system.

“It was a very inefficient way of doing business. It was time consuming and costly to the district. We would bring in a college student when they were on break to scan all the student and personnel records for the year. It wasn’t a good situation. And we were concerned about whether CD’s would still be a viable option down the road.”

Plus, back then, Ed was working on a laptop that didn’t have a CD drive. When he needed to look up an old document, a personnel file for example from someone who had worked in the district years ago, he would have to take the CD to someone else and use their computer to pull up the file.

“That lack of search functionality would waste 15-20 minutes of my day right there!” Mt. Pleasant Emblem

THE APPROACH

By 2013, they had been using the same scanner for seven years, and it was, how should we put it…developing problems. So, Ed was looking for another scanner, without much success.

“That’s when I discovered etfile at the ASBO International Convention. It was great. The rep explained the whole process. I scheduled a demo…actually two demos…brought in the superintendent and the other office people, and we tried the system. We were sold! And it’s worked great for us ever since.

They were the first school in the area to sign up with etfile, and Ed admits that his team was kind of hesitant at the start.

“We had been so reliant on paper, and when you start talking about a paperless solution people start to doubt you, but we persuaded them it would really help. They could see that etfile is really a different solution. I referred to it as ‘cutting edge’.”

THE BENEFITS

Ed and the others at the Mt. Pleasant business office saw immediate and tangible improvements in their workflow. The daily inflow and outflow of paper is now a manageable process that saves them time and money.

“Instead of bringing someone in at the end of the year to scan all the documents, it’s already done. All the invoices are already in the system. All our financial reports we download from our financial software and export them right into etfile and it’s all there.

“It truly is a cost-saving benefit for the district because we don’t have to bring someone in to do that scanning, and also we save on printing costs.

Ed is also delighted with etfile’s search capability.

“All that information is there and searchable. Now if we have a question on an invoice during the year we don’t have to find it on a CD, we just pull it up on etfile.”

“I strongly believe that it’s not only good for our district but for other school districts. There’s definitely a need out there, I know just from talking with other Iowa school districts. I tell them, it’s great to realize a monetary savings but there’s just so much more that you can’t put into financial terms.”

“My challenge now is to figure out how to keep moving away from paper with etfile’s help!”