SDSU accelerates digital workflows with Adobe Acrobat Sign

With more than 34,000 students and 3,000 faculty and staff, keeping things running smoothly at San Diego State University (SDSU) is a big job, with a lot of moving parts. A few years ago, the university started going digital with its document workflows, from HR to enrollment and beyond.

“Using Adobe Acrobat Sign we’re creating a paperless campus, so we can work much more efficiently and make everyday interactions smoother and easier,” says Ed Legaspi, IT Consultant at SDSU.

Together with Kent McKelvey, IT division senior director at SDSU, Legaspi was a key proponent of creating a digital campus with Adobe Document Cloud, including Adobe Acrobat Sign and Adobe Acrobat DC. The IT Division took the lead in implementation and administration. Their efforts paid off.

Today, several departments including Enrollment Services, Business and Financial Affairs, College of Education, Fowler College of Business, Instructional Technology Services, and College of Arts and Letters use Adobe Acrobat DC to create digital forms that can be routed, tracked, and signed using

Acrobat Sign, allowing people to sign documents in seconds from any device. The result is an outstanding experience for anyone interacting with the university, from students to faculty and donors.

Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Acrobat Sign and Adobe Acrobat have become even more essential at SDSU. Even departments previously slow to adopt the tools suddenly found themselves depending on digital workflows and e-signatures to stay connected with students and staff no longer on campus.

HR becomes a power user with bulk send in Acrobat Sign

The HR department is a major beneficiary of digital workflows, generating about 30 percent of total Acrobat Sign transactions at the university — many of them related to onboarding new employees.

“In the past, we had new hires come to the office to fill out paper forms, which took 30 minutes,” says Rachael Stalmann, Human Resources Technician at SDSU. “With Adobe Acrobat Sign, new employees now spend just 10 minutes in our office.”

That’s a significant time savings, especially considering that onboarding accounts for roughly 12,000 transactions every year. Digital workflows have become indispensable for other HR forms as well, including compliance documents, tax withholding updates, offer letters, name change updates, and student hiring documentation.

Stalmann recently started using the bulk send feature within Acrobat Sign for one of HR’s largest projects — Outside Employment Disclosure forms, which must be filled out by more than 300 managerial employees and signed by their supervisors every year. In the past, Stalmann created and sent web forms manually, repeating the same repetitive tasks over 300 times — creating the workflow, setting up the form, pulling the employee data, and plugging in email addresses. Finishing them could take a full day or longer.

“This year, we used Giga Sign to create and send the forms as a batch, and the process took only a couple of hours,” says Stalmann. “With built-in reminders and reporting, we’re seeing faster response times, and there’s less follow-up work for us.”

Giga Sign works with the Acrobat Sign feature called Mega Sign, that enables the collection of e-signatures in bulk by uploading a CSV file with the names and email addresses of everyone that needs to sign.

Giga Sign also enabled the HR department to process emergency pay forms for more than 100 employees during the pandemic. The feature enables HR to create and send the forms in a single batch, so employees can quickly fill in their hours and route the form to a supervisor for e-signature.

Streamlining class add/drop processes with Acrobat Sign

Acrobat Sign has also made a big difference for Corey Polant, Assistant Director, Community Engagement and Development. He remembers a time, when he was both an employee and a part-time graduate student at SDSU, when it took three or four weeks to enroll in a course.

“If I needed to register for a class after the add/drop deadline, getting the petition filled out was a frustrating experience,” Polant says. “I had to take the form to multiple department heads across campus, waiting for each person to sign before taking it to the next person.”

Today, the add/drop class petition process is fully digital with Acrobat Sign. Forms automatically route from one signer to the next, and administrators can electronically sign from anywhere, with no special software needed. Today, forms are completed in 93 percent less time — on a scale of one or two days rather than close to a month.

For students like Polant, digital enrollment has made their lives much easier because they no longer have to make multiple trips to campus, and they can track the status in real time.

Digital workflows spread across campus

Acrobat Sign has also become a go-to tool for critical processes such as the university’s travel authorization forms and donor forms.

“Faculty can get their university-sponsored travel plans approved in 96 percent less time — in hours rather than days,” says Legaspi. “And signing a donation agreement is easier than ever because the CFO, university vice presidents, and donors can all electronically sign from wherever they are.”

Indeed, large donations can be signed off on within a day instead of a week, and Acrobat Sign provides the audit trail and security to support SDSU’s compliance requirements.

SDSU plans to keep expanding its use of Acrobat Sign and Adobe Acrobat DC, and the potential is enormous.

“The implementation of Adobe Acrobat Sign is a first big first step in creating more seamless digital experiences for everyone who comes into contact with the university,” Legaspi says.

SDSU uses Adobe Document Cloud to transform paper-based processes into streamlined digital experiences. Learn more.