Digital records management is the way of the future for the education sector. But you won't experience those benefits unless your team knows how to use your software.
We'll share all the tips you need to start your digital records management journey off on the right foot. You'll walk away with a better understanding of the benefits of these digital processes and how you can use them to improve your operations.
1. Establish policies and procedures
Establish policies and procedures immediately upon implementing digital records management (or any new-to-the-district) software. State how and when records should be created, organized, stored, and disposed of, along with who handles each step of the process. This level of order provides peace of mind for all parties involved.
At some point, family members must request access to their child's records. With clear policies, the staff knows who needs to approve records, who may view them, and where they’re stored.
2. Ensure easy accessibility of records
When a district manually stores documents, accessing student records is a time-consuming challenge. It’s a labor-intensive process that requires trained staff to support the request from start to finish.
For many schools, it means sifting through filing cabinets and document boxes. This is exactly why the Manatee County school district said farewell to filing cabinets for record keeping.
Sometimes, staff had to drive to a separate location that held certain files. A tedious and cumbersome process like this meant documents would regularly get lost.
Installing a digital index system streamlines the document retrieval process. When you digitize paper-based processes, the staff knows where to find records and how to access them.
Going paperless improves accessibility for staff, students, and families.
3. Archive records that meet specified criteria
Your state requires your schools to hold onto records for a certain amount of years. But when the time comes, you'll need to archive those documents.
You need to use a system to flag the files that are ready to be archived. This helps you keep those documents organized so you can retrieve them if needed.
Furthermore, it cuts down on clutter and prevents you from saving old files when you no longer need immediate access to them. This applies to physical and digital records management.
4. Establish and maintain a records retention policy
You also need to have a policy in place for long-term records retention. Appoint a records manager who enforces that policy.
Holding onto files offers insights into making better decisions. For example, studying previous requests reveals where students are transferring (virtual academies, charter schools, etc.). This helps schools determine potential programming changes.
However, the analysis of old files is a time-consuming task that requires special expertise.
On the other hand, electronic records management platforms open the door to reporting without the antiquated process. Going paperless makes retaining files easier, and learning from the past faster than ever.
5. Create an audit trail for record management activities
An important element of a records management policy is establishing an audit trail. This ensures your records manager can see who accessed, sent, and received documents.
Throughout the school year, you may run into discrepancies or unauthorized access. Use an audit trail to log this data. Conducting periodic reviews ensures all audit trails are complete and accurate.
Use that data to identify gaps in your policies and continue to adjust so all sensitive information remains secure.
6. Leverage software for efficiency
Invest in the right software to boost your team's efficiency. Records management software eases the transition from paper-based to digital processes.
Your team can capture cumulative records as students matriculate. You'll also be able to track digital signatures and send verified student data to colleges and universities.
Software automates these steps, helping to reduce the records request processing time. For example, Fresno USD reduced its records processing time from days to minutes after using Scribbles software.
Integrating tools tailored to your institution improves overall efficiency. Streamlining processes leads to substantial time savings and enhances productivity.
7. Train staff for policy changes and new software
Once a group of staff members feels comfortable with your new policies, bring the rest of your team in. If your schools rely on paper-based processes, your staff is already hoping to go digital.
Scribbles’ recent study about communication between school leaders, staff, and families found 45 percent of school district members would prefer to exchange information over an online system over the next 2 to 3 years.
Take the time to educate your staff on updated policies and best practices with new software. Conduct workshops so staff has the opportunity to become proficient in the new software.
When your team has the space to feel supported and learn the software, they'll be more likely to use it.
8. Utilize experts and coaches for support
While digital transformation has become a necessity, it isn't always smooth sailing. You may need guidance in helping your staff adapt to new software and processes. Build a team of internal champions who can lead the change and support staff as they make this transition.
Also consider reaching out to your vendor for support. Any extra resources or coaching to get your staff up to speed quicker is worth it.
9. Support ongoing learning and education
Learning shouldn't stop after your team understands the software and new processes. Foster a culture of continuous learning by offering workshops on records management. Establish knowledge sharing amongst your staff so they can share best practices and tips.
Electronic systems help to prepare students for the future. Districts support their mission of setting students up for success with digital processes and tools. Keeping your staff updated on new systems will ensure your schools are educational leaders.
Create an internal expert network for ongoing support during the transition to foster collaboration and ease tool adaptation. Arrange regular training to boost skills and confidence.
This fosters smooth adoption and maximizes digital transformation impact.
Conclusion: Go digital to streamline records management
District and administrative leaders need more effective records management.
Effective digital records management is paramount for educational institutions seeking efficiency, accessibility, and compliance. Embracing electronic processes not only optimizes operations but also equips schools to remain educational leaders in an increasingly digital landscape.
The Scribbles platform makes this dream a reality for schools. Scribbles helps schools streamline records retrieval and transfers, enhances security, ensures records accessibility, and more.
These tips are just the beginning of your digital transformation journey. Next, let’s explore what strategies for efficient records management with Scribbles look like.