A top university of art and design, ECU took on the ambitious project of going paperless when a global giant in print technology, Lexmark, suggested they call Horizon Computer Solutions.
Going Paperless with Emily Carr University
Internationally recognized as a top university of art and design, Emily Carr University (ECU), in Vancouver, is also a leader when it comes to meeting the operational and administrative needs of their students, staff, and faculty. To ensure they could meet those evolving needs ECU began an ambitious project to go paperless, but weren’t able to get the level of support their complex organization needed within the budget they had. That’s when Lexmark, a global giant in print technology, suggested ECU call Horizon.
Discovering Needs, Improving Process
As a trusted partner for dozens of technology companies, implementing the Perceptive software at the heart of the ECU paperless project was easily within the technical capabilities of Horizon’s highly-educated and experienced team. Add to that a streamlined process to meet and exceed the requirements of the project, within budget, and ECU knew they had found the right partner.
“Horizon helped build team understanding at Emily Carr and they got everyone on the same page for our project.“
– Adrian Lim, Project Manager, Institutional Research + Colleague System; Emily Carr University of Art & Design
The Horizon team was quick to connect with ECU in order to implement the agreed plan. The first step in the plan was gathering all the stakeholders for a discovery session designed to map out the interconnected processes within the ECU departments, and ask detailed questions to uncover the vital data needed to ensure optimal rollout of the project with minimum fuss. This process also helped to make sure that all stakeholders were able to share their insights and reach a consensus around the end deliverables for the project. With the data gathered at the Discovery Session it was determined that the best place to implement the project, causing the least amount of disruption to students and educators, was in the Accounts Payable (AP) department. The process of developing the full implementation plan was enlightening for both Horizon and the AP department, in particular because AP had some unique workflows that had to be accounted for.
From Plan to Paperless
“Horizon did a great job of gathering information and evolving processes throughout the project to meet our evolving needs.
– Adrian Lim
To bridge the gap from planning to implementation, Horizon used a Rapid Application Development process that emphasizes small changes based on frequent communication with the end user. This allowed for a fluid workflow between Horizon and ECU, which in turn made sure that each iteration of the implementation, developed in a safe and secure test environment, was an improvement over the previous one for the ECU team. At each step of the project Horizon gathered feedback and made sure that ECU’s expectations were being met at all times.
It was also determined early on in the project that Horizon would have to work closely with the university’s ERP provider, Colleague, to make sure that the evolving AP processes would have maximum operational impact, with minimum slowdown of ongoing administrative functions. The experienced Horizon team took this in stride and seamlessly worked the new relationship into their plan, and ECU’s processes.
Once the paperless system was ready to go live the Horizon team developed a Quality Assurance process to make sure all AP documentation had gone digital and was available within their Colleague ERP system.
Now Emily Carr University is able to easily make, edit and archive digital documents within its AP department. This opens up new avenues to improve AP processes and minimize or even completely eliminate physical storage requirements.
Meeting Needs, Exceeding Expectations
No project ever goes completely according to plan, that’s why you need experienced project managers and a dedication to customer service to make sure the end result meets the needs and expectations of the client.
Adrian Lim is an experienced project manager and highlighted the fact Horizon quickly identified and corrected any issue that occurred during the implementation process, “Horizon really came to bat, to get things in place and make sure everything was smooth.”
Now, Emily Carr University is able to easily make, edit and archive digital documents within its AP department. This opens up new avenues to improve AP processes and minimize or even completely eliminate physical storage requirements.
Having said that, Adrian is quick to point out that he has to stretch to find something for Horizon to improve upon, and highlights customer service as one of Horizon’s strengths, along with, “discovery, project management, and getting down to the right answer for a client’s needs.”
An Ongoing Partnership
Post-implementation there is an ongoing dialogue to keep improving the tool and processes now in place. Together Horizon and ECU developed the hybrid QA tool that allows them to monitor the system and fine tune it at both a macro and micro level, to continue to meet the needs of the university.
As stage-one of a multi-year initiative, this project has essentially become the discovery stage to scale up the paperless capabilities from Accounts Payable to the entire university. Adrian and Horizon are already hard at work analyzing the ongoing data and planning how their ongoing partnership will continue to drive Emily Carr University towards being 100% paperless.
It’s an ongoing partnership, in which Horizon is proud to play a small part in helping one of the most respected fine arts universities in the world achieve their goals.