Action Project


Improving Transcript Analysis Procedures





University of Saint Mary






6-Supporting Institutional Operations


Planned project kickoff date: 2009-07-01 
Target completion date: 2010-05-30 
Actual completion date:

Project Detail

Project Goal
Describe this Action Project's goal in 100 words or fewer

The goal for this project is to improve the efficiency of transcript analysis for prospective and incoming students. This will provide prospective and incoming students, as well as those at the university with whom they must work in preparation for admission (e.g. admissions, financial aid, academic advisors), with the information they need to make vital decisions in a timelier manner.

Reasons For Project
Describe briefly your institution's reasons for taking on this Action Project now -- why the project and its goals are high among your current priorities

The current transcript analysis process is labor intensive and, at times, too slow to provide vital information in a timely manner. Further, it does not take full advantage of new technology and software made available to the university. The university has witnessed a dramatic increase in the size and complexity of its applicant pool. As a result, its current transcript analysis process, which may have served the university well in the past, needs to be “modernized.” Two developments have led the university to take on this project now. First, applicant pools and incoming classes for AY 2008 and 2009 have been the largest in the university’s history. This has been very gratifying, but it has also made clear our need to develop a more efficient transcript analysis process, as there have been an increased number of concerns raised by the stakeholders in this process. Second, the university was presented with the opportunity to participate in a process of “Lean Thinking Training.” Lean Thinking has proven to be effective in leading organizations through a process whereby their systems are made more efficient and responsive to the needs of their “customers.” The training is being led by specially trained experts from the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System (the Sisters of Charity founded and continue to sponsor the university). The training began in July 2009, and will include ten full days of hands on activity over five months leading to the development of a new plan of action by the end of the fall semester. It is expected that the spring semester will be spent implementing the new analysis processes which we expect to be operational by May 30, 2010.

Organizational Areas Affected
List the organizational areas -- institutional departments, programs, divisions, or units -- most affected by or involved in this Action Project

Offices affected by the Action Project: Registrar, Admissions, Business, Financial Aid, Advising, Online Programs, Athletics, Veterans Administration.

Key Organizational Process(es)
Name and describe briefly the key organizational process(es) that you expect this Action Project to change or improve

This Action Project will improve the entire “flow” of admitting students to the university from the time of their applying to the university through the point at which they enroll in classes. Students will have the information they need to make more timely, informed, and accurate decisions. Similarly staff in Admissions, Financial Aid, the Business Office, Athletics, Academic Advising, Veterans Affairs, and other offices will have better and timelier access to the information they need to support admission, registration, and enrollment procedures. Further, it is anticipated that a more effective use of technology and software – taking the university from a paper-based transcript analysis process to an electronic record keeping system -- will result in a more fluid and seamless system.

Project Time Frame Rationale
Explain the rationale for the length of time planned for this Action Project (from kickoff to target completion)

The timing of this Action Plan coincides with the opportunity for the university to participate in “Lean Thinking Training,” noted above. The training began in July 2009, and will include ten full days of hands on activity leading to the development of a new plan of action by the end of the fall semester. It is expected that the spring semester will be spent implementing the new analysis procedures, which we expect to be operational by May 30, 2010.

Project Success Monitoring
Describe how you plan to monitor how successfully your efforts on this Action Project are progressing

A continuous monitoring of the process, including benchmarks and trend analysis leading to a new transcript analysis process, is built into the Lean Training and involves ten full-day workshops led by “coaches.” After that, when a new “plan” has been created, its implementation will be monitored by the Registrar and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Project Outcome Measures
Describe the overall "outcome" measures or indicators that will tell you whether this Action Project has been a success or failure in achieving its goals

We are in the process of gathering the data we need to determine specific benchmarks and goals for this project. The timing involved in current review procedures is being studied, and stakeholders are being surveyed to ascertain their level of satisfaction as well as optimum time for the delivery of transcript information they need to do their job and best meet the needs of the students. As per the Lean process, data gathering is to be substantially completed by mid-September.

Annual Update

Project Accomplishments and Status
Describe the past year's accomplishments and the current status of this Action Project

We started this Action Project with the goal of improving the efficiency of our transcript analysis for prospective and incoming students.  We understood that the Registrar’s Office was not taking full advantage of the technology at hand to be efficient in the process.  This has become a problem due to our significant increase in enrollment and addition of online programs, wherein quick turn around of student applications is even more important than for traditional on campus students.  As we last reported, to that end we enrolled the University Registrar and Associate Registrar in Lean training, which is dedicated to improving the efficiency of processes such as these.  The training did point out areas whereby greater efficiency could be achieved, but it also made clear that in various areas where improvements were needed, our University Registrar did not know what steps should be taken.  We then hired a consultant to study the matter.  The consultant’s report not only provided direction for improved transcript analysis, but also identified related areas where improved use of technology was needed (e.g. use of our Advising Module, Ad Astra).  After reviewing the consultant’s report and identifying the steps we needed to take, the University Registrar agreed to step down and we hired a new University Registrar who not only has embraced the consultant’s report but already put together a plan whereby she will implement the plan, in stages, over the course of the 2010-2011 academic year.  She began on July 1 and is off to a good start.

Institution Involvement
Describe how the institution involved people in work on this Action Project

As noted, this past year this Action Project involved Lean trainers, the former University Registrar, the Associate Registrar, a consultant, and a new University Registrar.  It also involved numerous stakeholders (e.g. Director of Online Programs, Department Chairs, Advising Committee), who at the start of the project helped us identify the “bottlenecks” in the current transcript analysis process.

Next Steps
Describe your planned next steps for this Action Project

Also as noted, the new University Registrar is in the process of implementing the changes proposed by our consultant.

Resulting Effective Practices
Describe any "effective practice(s)" that resulted from your work on this Action Project

Perhaps the most important accomplishment thus far has been the realization that our needs were greater than we initially supposed, our bringing in a consultant to help us move forward, and our hiring a new University Registrar better prepared to accomplish our goals. 

Project Challenges
What challenges, if any, are you still facing in regards to this Action Project? This is an opportunity to get constructive, actionable feedback and advice from our review process. Use this question to specify where your blocks, gaps, sticking points, or problems are. If you have already fashioned strategies to deal with any challenge you face, share both the challenge and your strategy for meeting it. If you would like to discuss the possibility of AQIP providing you help beyond the review process, explain your need(s) and tell us whom to contact and when

At this point, the University Registrar has identified and put into an action plan about a dozen improvements in the Registrar’s office, mostly focused on the improved use of technology but also including changes needed to support those improvements -- software, personnel, etc.   Our new goal is to complete this plan during the 2010-2011 academic year, at the end of which point we hope to make a final report of our success.