AACRAO Survey of Electronic Transcript Delivery Services


AACRAO's VP for Records and Academic Services has directed a workgroup to collect information and report on the current availability and pricing of electronic transcripts delivery services. To this end we have developed this survey to identify prospective suppliers for the electronic delivery of transcripts and to describe their companies, services, and pricing. Results of this survey will be made available to AACRAO members in a report that will be published In AACRAO's College and University, as well the AACRAO website. In addition, the work group will also present the results of the survey at the AACRAO annual meeting in New Orleans, April 2010.

Please note that the workgroup will not recommend any one technology, vendor, or practice over another. The questions are intentionally exploratory and encourage you to provide detailed responses so that AACRAO members may conduct a prudent evaluation of the features, prices and services offered by each company. Our purpose is to describe the current state of electronic transcripts and to provide useful information to the AACRAO membership that will help them make an informed decision regarding whether or not they should deploy an electronic transcript service.

Thank you in advance for taking the time necessary to complete the survey.

Part 1
CORPORATE INFORMATION

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc)
Description / Explanation

What is your company's full name

Avow Systems, Inc.

Year of incorporation

2006

How is your company organized?

Privately-held corporation

List any other products/services you currently provide.

Support for all types of paper and certified electronic documents - including transcripts, enrollment and degree verifications, diplomas, apostilles, grade reports, admission letters and packets, scholarship and financial aid awards, and any other high-stake institutional documents.

Avow's patent-pending Authentic Document Delivery Service (+ADDS™) is the only real-time, fully integrated service that supports ordering, PDF generation, certification, rights management and secure delivery for not only transcripts, but all other high-stake institutional documents. Avow's Student Choice™ allows students and alumni to attach additional documents (e.g., resume, employment application, cover letter, etc.) as well as receive real-time updates via e-mail or their mobile device regarding status of and activity related to their transcripts and other documents.

How many academic customers do you currently serve?

30+ sending institutions and 2800+ receiving institutions

How long has your company been providing electronic transcript services?

4+ years

Where or to whom should schools interested in learning more about your service be directed?

Ron Hyman, General Manager
E-mail: rhyman@avowsystems.com
Phone: (508) 353-8880
Web link: www.avowsystems.com

Where or to whom should technical questions be directed?

Ron Hyman, General Manager
E-mail: rhyman@avowsystems.com
Phone: (508) 353-8880

Other information you wish to add

Yes

Avow's highly-secure Certified PDF Transcript™ service is flexible and fully-customizable to each institution. Membership in a limited trading network or validation by the recipient is NOT required to send or receive.

Part 2
ELECTRONIC TRANSCRIPT FORMATS

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc)
Description / Explanation

In what format(s) can you deliver electronic transcripts? (Check all that apply)

  • PDF  -  YES
  • EDI (ANSI X12 standard)  -  YES
  • XML (PESC standard)  -  YES
  • ASCII/flat file  -  YES
  • MS Word or MS Excel  -  YES
  • Proprietary format  -  YES
  • Other  -  YES
Any format may be attached to the Certified PDF per the PESC PDF standard thus enabling a single output which can be consumed by any recipient in the format of their choice.

Part 3
CREATION OF THE ELECTRONIC TRANSCRIPT

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc)
Description / Explanation

What data format do you require from the school as you prepare to deliver the school's transcript electronically? (Check all that apply)          

No specific data format is required. Any defined data format is acceptable, including those marked.

  • PDF - YES
  • EDI  - YES
  • XML - YES
  • ASCII/flat file - YES
  • MS Word or MS Excel - YES
  • Proprietary format - YES
  • Other - YES
Images, Audio and Video

Does your system create the PDF for the sending institution? 

YES
 
The Certified PDF Transcript™ mirrors the look and feel of the institution's paper transcript including boarders, watermarks, keys, etc. The Certified PDF Transcript™ may contain multiple pages and be split into multiple certified PDFs if necessary.

If you deliver an electronic transcript in PDF format, does it include:

  • Cover sheet? 
   YES
  • If a cover sheet is provided, what information is included?   
    YES

The cover sheet is fully customizable per institution. Avow provides templates based on best practices from other institutions.

  • Link to school website?
  YES
    
  • Link to registrar's website?
  YES

  • Link to school course catalog?
  YES

  • School identity
  YES

  • Transcript Key/Legend
  YES

  • Other features
  YES

The Certified PDF Transcript™ includes the institution's digital certificate of authenticity which stays with the document (does not require membership in a limited trading network or utilize a network-dependant validation scheme) and policies (rights management) at the discretion of the institution. Avow supports Transcript 2.0 initiatives and has pioneered the ability to make an institution's Certified PDF Transcript™ dynamic to include audio, video, embedded external links, and other valuable information that reflect a student's complete record of achievement.

Part 4
DISTRIBUTION OF OUTGOING ELECTRONIC TRANSCRIPTS

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc)
Description / Explanation

How do you distribute transcripts (Check all that apply)


  • Texas Server delivers to each recipient using the senders' specified requirements 

  YES

    Per publication of the PESC PDF standard.

  • Provide a secure web service where receivers can retrieve transcripts.   
  YES

  • We utilize a network registry.
  NO
     
By design Avow does not depend on a limited network registry of trading partners. The Certified PDF Transcript™ may be transmitted anywhere in the world without a membership or network-dependant validation scheme.

  • We email the transcript.
Possible, but not recommended.
 
Direct e-mail of the Certified PDF Transcript™ is possible, but not recommended. Avow recommends its secure download process (+ADDS5: Document Delivery Service™).

  • How are transcripts delivered to recipients unable to use the Texas Server or your in-network capabilities?
+ADDS5: Document Delivery Service™

+ADDS5: Document Delivery Service™ is a secure download facility where authorized recipients can securely retrieve all Certified PDF Transcripts™.

  • Are recipients required to be registered with your service? 
  NO

  • Other, please describe. 

Student Choice™  

Avow's Student Choice™ allows students and alumni to attach additional documents (e.g., a resume) as well as receive real-time updates via e-mail or their mobile device regarding status and activity related to distribution and use of their Certified PDF Transcripts™ and other documents.

Once delivered to the recipient, will the transcript expire?

NO
    
However, sending institutions may, at their discretion, choose to expire the Certified PDF Transcript™ using +ADDS4: Document Rights Management™. While the transcript will not expire, it is not stored on the Avow server after delivery.

Once opened by the recipient, will the transcript expire for the recipient?

NO     

However, sending institutions may, at their discretion, choose to expire the Certified PDF Transcript™ using +ADDS4: Document Rights Management™.

Part 5
RETRIEVAL/DISTRIBUTION OF INCOMING ELECTRONIC TRANSCRIPTS

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc)
Description / Explanation

Other than a PDF reader, does your system require any special software installation to receive delivered transcripts?

NO  

NOTE: Questions below may pertain only to a PDF transcript.

How are "mailboxes" established for recipients?

N/A
    
Mailboxes are not required to be established for recipients. Certified PDF Transcripts™ are downloaded (individually or in batch) via Avow's secure download facility. Optionally, an institution which received significant volumes of Certified PDF Transcripts™ may establish a DTS server to receive.

Does your system deliver to multiple "mailboxes" at a single school/organization?

YES
 
Avow's Authentic Document Delivery Service (+ADDS)™ includes a multiple transcript download capability such that multiple recipients at a institution may process incoming transcripts as well as download multiple transcripts at a time.

Does your system deliver in batch to a single destination? 

YES
   
However, most institutions prefer to use Avow's capability to deliver real-time as transcripts are requested.

Are recipients required to identify themselves each time transcripts are delivered? 

YES
    
However, the multiple transcript download capability eliminates the need for a recipient to identify themselves for each transcript downloaded.

Are email(s) delivered to the receivers with instructions (perhaps including passwords and URL's) whenever a transcript is ready for be retrieved electronically?  

YES
    
Fully customizable for each institution displaying their name and messaging.

Are students notified that their transcript requests have been delivered and have been opened by intended recipient?  

YES
    
Avow's Student Choice™ allows students and alumni to attach additional documents (e.g., a resume) as well as receive real-time updates via e-mail or their mobile device regarding status and activity related to distribution and use of their Certified PDF Transcripts™ and other documents.

Is the sending institution notified that transcripts have been delivered and opened by intended recipients?  

YES
    
Via +ADDS4: Document Rights Management™ and the full document history maintained in the +ADDS Management Console (AMC)™.

Are transcripts delivered in real time? 

YES
   
Other  


Document Recall™     

Avow's Document Recall™ allows institutions to recall or disable previously delivered Certified PDF Transcripts™ and other documents and replace them with updated versions. Also, each institution establishes their own parameters for the number and timeframes within which Certified PDF Transcripts™ and other documents are available for secure download.

Part 6
DATA STORAGE

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc)
Description / Explanation

Does your service require a copy of the sending school's transcript data base? 

NO  

Does your service store transcript data after delivery of the transcript?

NO
    
Discrete transcript data is not stored. The Certified PDF Transcript™ itself is stored securely only until downloaded.

  • If so, for how long?
N/A

  • If so, can the transcript data be released multiple times?

N/A

  • If so, can the data be mined?       
N/A
 
How are delivered transcripts documented and reported if (after) they are physically removed from the system?  

Complete history from order through delivery is maintained for every document requested.
    
The +ADDS Management Console (AMC)™ provides for complete and detailed document history without the need to physically store the transcript/document.

Other information you wish to include. 

YES     

The +ADDS Management Console (AMC)™ includes extensive tracking, query options, extracting/reporting and analysis capabilities for all document orders and actions by the requestor, recipient and institution.

Part 7
TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc)
Description / Explanation

List the Student Information Systems on which you have installed your electronic delivery service. 

N/A 

Avow's service is not installed on the Student Information System, but rather utilizes a PESC standard, open interface to all Student Information Systems (including Banner, PeopleSoft, CampusView, DataTel, legacy, and others).

Describe a typical installation process and the time required for implementation and activation of your system. 

No installation required. Implementation and activation varies by institution and can be done in as little as 2 days.
   
Does your service require the use of proprietary software?  

NO   

What are the minimum hardware/software requirements that your service requires of a school, if any?  

N/A 

No hardware/software is required. The service is securely hosted in a SAS70, Enterprise-class, Level 4 data center.

Describe how your system accommodates multi-campus delivery and reporting requirements. 

Supports segregated and consolidated delivery and reporting needs for multi-campus institutions.
    
Avow's service provides for use at a single campus or can scale to handle various requirements of a multi-campus environment.

Describe the on-line help capability your system provides to all users.   


On-line help and FAQs provided.      On-line help and FAQs are available for core functions of the service and may be customized per institution based on their unique processes.

Part 8
SECURITY

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc) 
Description / Explanation

How are institutional/campus administrators selected and authorized?   

In conjunction with Registrar or other appropriate data/security administrator or manager.   

A "super" administrator role is established which defines and grants administration privileges to other individuals and/or groups of individuals as necessary.

Is the data that you send/receive encrypted?  

YES  

All data/messaging is transmitted via an encrypted SSL connection.

Is the data that you send sent through some form of secure FTP?  

YES
   
Other options available (e.g., PESC DTS web service).

Are any networks secured?   

YES   

Are any servers secured?   

YES  

If you deliver PDF transcripts, are they secured via a digital signature?   

YES
   
Certified PDF Transcripts™ are secured at a higher level than a digital signature. They are "certified" with a trusted, institutional mark which is vetted by the issuing entity (VeriSign, GlobalSign, etc.), and pre-trusted by Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat.

If NO, how does your system ensure that transcripts are authentic and have not been altered?  

N/A    

How are delivered electronic transcripts verified as authentic over time?
   

Automatically
   
Certified PDF Transcripts™ are "self-validating" each time the transcript is accessed/opened based on the institution's digital certificate, time-stamped and checked for any changes since initial certification. No other network validation is necessary.

Describe the use and assignment of user passwords  

Strong password authentication Passwords may be system assigned or user generated and maintained, but require a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.

Part 9
HIGH SCHOOLS

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc)
Description / Explanation

Is your service utilized in high schools?  

YES
   
Via partnership with National Transcript Center.

Describe any features only used by high schools.   

N/A

Part 10
REPORTING FEATURES   

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc)  
Description / Explanation

What reporting functions are included with your service?   

Extensive real-time operational and administrative reports and queries available via the +ADDS Management Console (AMC)™ and +ADDS Analytics™
   
Prepared reports as well as ad-hoc reports and queries with export features are available.

Can you report the number (by type, e.g. PDF, XML, EDI) of transcripts delivered on a monthly basis, weekly basis, etc.? 

YES    

Are your reporting services offered at additional cost?  
 

NO

Part 11
PRICING/CONTRACT TERMS

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc)  
Description / Explanation

Is a binding contract required?   

YES
   
However, it is possible for the binding contract to not include a financial commitment from the institution.

If yes, please describe contract period.   

Varies from 1-5 years   

Is there a per transcript fee? How much?   

Varies
   
Avow offers tiered pricing/service models based on annual volume of documents, term of contract, service components selected, and license.

Is there an installation/initiation fee?   

NO    

Is there an annual fee?   

Varies   

Depends on pricing/service model chosen.

Are there initial or annual third party license fees?   

NO    

Do you offer tiered pricing/service models? If so, please explain.  

YES   

Avow offers tiered pricing/service models based on annual volume of documents, term of contract, service components selected, and license.

Are there charges for training?   

NO  

Do you offer discounts?   

YES  

Are there code escrow fees?  

NO   

Are there charges for upgrades or new releases?   

NO   

All upgrades and new releases are managed by Avow via the service and do not require campus-based IT support.

Are fees borne entirely by the sender?

Are there fees borne by the recipient?  

Fees may be borne by the sender or institution depending on institution's fee structure and ordering method. No fees are ever paid by the recipient.
   
Is pricing bundled to other services?  

NO
   
Additional discounts may apply based on annual volume of documents, term of contract, service components selected, and license.

Describe your customer support program.  

Extensive Service Level and Support Agreement included with the service.
   
Avow supports all aspects of the hosted service including hardware/software maintenance and upgrades, credit card processing, customizations, reporting, administrative and technical support.

How is your transcript delivery system documented?   

Avow provides a complete user guide including online help and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).   

Additionally, multiple implementation and integration guides are included depending on the services selected and the institution's SIS and security protocol.

Part 12
SUMMARY

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc)   
Description / Explanation


Please list and describe the 5 top benefits of your system.  

1. Cost efficiencies 

Yes
  
Avow's +ADDS™ service is cost effective to the institution in that it removes direct costs, such as paper, printers, ink, envelopes, and postage. It is cost effective in that is can alleviate indirect costs such as the significant staff time to process and support transcript processing. This is a direct result of automation where institutions can deliver Certified PDF Transcripts™ automatically without any human intervention.

2. Security  

Yes
   
Avow provides the ability for institutions to issue a Certified PDF Transcript™ that is automatically validated for authenticity and content integrity each and every time the transcript is opened. Avow also provides institutions the ability to control each and every Certified PDF Transcript™ delivered. For example, institutions can set an expiration period for the transcript; ensuring students are always getting the most recent transcript. Also available, is the ability to recall a transcript at any time, if for example a grade or other transcript information is incorrect or missing.

3. Automation  

Yes   

Avow provides a solution that can be fully automated such that NO human intervention is required to accept transcript orders, create the Certified PDF Transcript™, and deliver it securely to ANY intended recipient world-wide within minutes. Automation includes interfacing to existing transcript processing systems and student information systems.

4. Better service to requestors, recipients and institutions   

Yes
   
Avow provides institutions the ability to offer better service to requestors and recipients. Better service include secure delivery of official transcripts within minutes of being ordered, constant messaging and communication as to status of transcript, one-stop shopping for ordering any PDF or paper document offered by the institution.

5. No membership required to receive   

Yes
   
Avow's +ADDS™ solution can send a Certified PDF Transcript™ to any recipient worldwide with a valid email address. Receiving institutions can receive multiple transcripts in a single download process.

Describe any features of your service not previously mentioned.  

Yes
   
Avow offers +ADDS™ Transcript Tracker™ services to students and alumni to allow them to track when, where and by whom their transcripts were accessed. This feature provides real-time notification to the requestor via email and/or text message anytime their transcript is accessed.

Part 13
AFFILIATIONS

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc) 
Description / Explanation


Are you an AACRAO member?
   

YES   

Are you a PESC member?   

YES
   
Co-Chair of PDF Workgroup

Are you contracted to provide services to a state(s), region or consortium?   

YES   
 
List any other affiliations pertinent to electronic transcript services.  

Partnerships with: Adobe, SafeNet, VeriSign, GlobalSign, CSI/FirstData, PayPal, PCI, ViaWest, Paymentech, and Fortrust
   
Credentials Solutions and National Transcript Center are authorized resale partners for limited components of +ADDS

Attach a list (or active link) identifying the postsecondary institutions using your services as receiving and/or sending institutions.   

30+ sending institutions. The list of 2800+ receiving institutions is confidential (requires execution of a Nondisclosure Agreement).
   
Please visit www.avowsystems.com for the latest information regarding postsecondary institutions using Avow's Authentic Document Delivery Service (+ADDS)™.

Part 14
TRANSCRIPT ORDERING SERVICE

Short Answer (Yes, No, n/a, number, etc)  
Description / Explanation


This area is focused on transcript delivery. Briefly describe:
     
Do you offer a transcript ordering service  

YES
    

+ADDS1: Document Ordering Service (DOS)™ is the most comprehensive ordering service in the industry which includes ordering of any paper and electronic document and complete credit card processing with PCI compliance. Functionality includes institutional branding, single sign-on integration with institution's portal, FERPA compliance, SIS integration, and order tracking/history. Avow's Student Choice™ allows students and alumni to attach additional documents (e.g., a resume) as well as receive real-time updates via e-mail or their mobile device regarding status of and activity related to their transcripts and other documents.

Is your ordering service integrated with your delivery service   

YES  

Fully-integrated and closed loop order delivery and tracking available to the institution and requestor.

Can other ordering services be used with your delivery service? 

YES