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Meeting the challenge on digital records

Legal contracts review pilot shows promise that QDocs will be offered as an enterprise system.

In any university environment, records and data are fundamental. From admission and course administration documents to day-to-day administrative and transactional data, huge amounts of records are being created on a daily basis. Increasingly, those records are digital and a system for managing those digital records is essential.

The benefits of system adoption include facilitating moving from paper to digital methods of business, improving business efficiency and productivity, providing security, accountability and compliance, and improving record keeping capabilities, resulting in better service to the university community.

QDocs utilizes Perceptive, a software application that manages a wide range of files, including email, Word and Excel documents, as well as images and scanned documents. The system also enables workflow, version control and audit functionality, automating business processes and approvals.

Perceptive was purchased several years ago and developed successfully by the Faculty of Education and more recently by the Faculty of Law for admission applications processing.  However, greater uptake was hindered by the requirement for units to commit their own resources to develop the tool for their own purposes.  Now, central funding is being secured to position QDocs as an enterprise offering, pending the successful outcome of three pilot projects.  One of those pilot projects is the automating of the legal contracts review process in the Office of the University Secretariat and Legal Counsel. 

“QDocs means that contracts are managed every step of the way – from the time someone sends me a contract to review until edits are made and the contract is signed off,” says Lisa Newton, Queen’s Legal Counsel, one of the early adopters of QDocs. “Being able to share documents electronically results in time savings and ensures that the latest version is always available.”

Using the new contracts management system is simple.

Users complete an electronic form through the Legal Counsel website and upload the relevant documents. QDocs then stores all the records securely. It also ensures that the latest versions of the documents are instantly accessible to all involved in the process. At the same time, the system manages the workflow, review, and approval processes, while notifications are provided if and when further action is required and when the process is completed.

Two other pilot projects are currently underway in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the Office of the AVP International. Once the pilot projects are complete later in the year, the goal is to expand the use of QDocs across the university.  A process will be put in place to review and prioritize projects.

“Demand for the use of QDocs continues to grow as units across the university face the challenge of managing large quantities of digital documentation,” says Carolyn Heald, Director, University Records Management and Chief Privacy Officer. “As more users come on board and are trained on QDocs, the entire recordkeeping process at the university will vastly improve, meeting the standards and expectations of a 21st century post-secondary institution.”

Importantly, QDocs also provides automated records retention and disposal, allowing users to apply authorized retention policies, and ensuring information is readily available for Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) compliance and legal discovery.

Faculties and departments considering implementing QDocs should first explore their current information management environment (which will help to determine if the office is ready for the system), where it will fit into the information architecture, and what needs to be done to plan for it.  Other considerations include identifying what integrations may be required between QDocs and other business systems, what the opportunities are for workflow or process re-engineering, and what the particular requirements for are for such things as security and access, depending upon the type of information being managed.

QDocs is being offered by the Records Management and Privacy Office with long-term technical support provided internally through IT Services. IT Services staff will facilitate the implementation of new business processes into the system, will host and maintain the system software and infrastructure, and will resolve technical issues for system users.

For further information on QDocs, contact Jordan Phoenix, Records Manager.