How technology tools helped increase collaboration in the Registrar’s office

April 26, 2019
  • AACRAO Annual Meeting
  • Change Management
  • Collaborative Decision-Making
  • Communication
  • Competencies
  • Data Stewardship
  • Holistic and Systemic Thinking
  • Meetings, Workshops, and Trainings
  • Records and Academic Services
  • Student Information Systems
  • Systems Management
  • Technological Knowledge
  • Technology
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by Christopher Rooney, Manager, Operations and Client Services, Trent University

In 2016 the University of Chicago embarked on a project to replace their student information system. At the 2019 AACRAO Annual Meeting, Kelly Simmons from the University of Chicago and Rita Vazquez, formerly of the University of Chicago, now at Loyola University, invited an audience of nearly one hundred people to peek behind the curtain at their process.

A new information system meant new ways of doing things, said Simmons and Vazquez, so they implemented a plan to take work that was once solitary in nature and shift it into a new, interdependent system. Managing both the technological and human elements of the project proved vital as hey worked to move away from pre-existing silos that some were operating within. Integral to this was identifying some of the factors that fostered these silos in the first place.

What contributes to silos?

  • Physical/geographical barriers

  • Culture and institutional history

  • Leadership

  • Resources

  • Lack of communication and training

  • Limited knowledge of cross functional interdependencies

  • Lack of organizational awareness and policy

Rather than focus on the differences, they had their teams focus on what they had in common: the student cycle. And to foster this collaboration they leveraged the technology that was available to them.

What can technology do?

  • Shared user portal

    • Allowed people to access tools and information quickly

  • Direct Messaging with Slack

    • Strengthened quick and direct communication

  • Content Management with a Wiki

    • Supported dynamic information sharing

  • File Sharing with Sharepoint

    • Facilitated real-time edits and reduced risk of multiple versions

  • Team Collaboration with Microsoft Teams

    • Fostered project management

  • Meeting Management with Zoom, Webex, and Skype for Business

    • Enabled groups to get together when they weren’t in the same place

Once these tools were rolled out, they helped create a more harmonized environment for collaboration within the registrar’s office and beyond. More collaboration led to increased feedback and improved customer service. As adoption of these tools increased, so did their ability to work collaboratively. As staff continue to adapt to and adopt new technology, the University of Chicago hopes that it will lead to additional improvements in documentation and training as well as further cross-departmental collaborations.