University of New Mexico standardizes on Document Cloud to streamline enterprise document workflows

The University of New Mexico Logo against a blue sky and top of building.

By Chitra Mittha

Posted on 01-12-2021

A sense of history and community grounds the University of New Mexico (UNM). Nestled between the Rio Grande river and the Sandia Mountains, UNM takes pride in the stunning natural beauty that has inspired people for thousands of years to make this expansive mesa their home. At the same time, UNM builds upon these historic traditions by actively embracing emerging technologies to empower students, faculty, and staff in the digital age.

As an Adobe Creative Campus, UNM provides all students and faculty with access to Adobe Creative Cloud apps, boosting the university’s ability to build students’ communication, critical thinking, and digital literacy. UNM recently expanded that success by adopting Adobe Document Cloud to streamline workflows across UNM and the UNM Health System. With Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Sign, UNM encourages teams across the university to replace slow, paper-based workflows with fast, more secure, automated electronic processes.

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“Adobe Sign has been a game-changer for our work at UNM,” says Alesia Torres, director, enterprise applications at UNM. “From tuition payments to scholarship applications and benefits paperwork to access requests, we use Adobe Sign across UNM as a cost-effective strategy to improve document workflows. It fits in perfectly with our Adobe Creative Campus goals to use technology to offer new opportunities and enhanced experiences to students, faculty, and staff.”

Tools for a modern university

By rolling out Adobe Sign across the campus to digitize document workflows of all sizes, UNM boosts efficiency across departments. While some departments used e-signature solutions such as DocuSign, the focus on promoting Adobe Sign as the standard solution across UNM provides stronger support and expands the reach of e-signatures to more departments.

The push to adopt more paperless workflows became even more essential when COVID-19-triggered shutdowns impacted people across the U.S. By using Adobe Sign, departments and teams across UNM kept operations running even as employees switched to remote work.

Today, Adobe Sign is used by hundreds of people across UNM. UNM managed the successful roll out across the university through a well-planned implementation including phased roll outs, in-depth training, and department champions.

During the first phase, UNM approached seven departments that handled large volumes of paperwork, including purchasing, human resources, and UNM Medical Group — many of which used other e-signature tools previously. In each of these offices, UNM identified a “super-user” to serve as a designated Adobe Sign Admin for the department: an expert who could create workflows and assign access to other departmental users.

“The Adobe Sign team understood the importance of early training to facilitate a smooth rollout,” says Nadar Khalil, manager, core information technology services at UNM. “By nurturing knowledgeable Adobe Sign experts in each office, we could offload much of the onboarding and support, which accelerated the roll out Adobe Sign.”

During the second phase, UNM opened Adobe Sign to all offices across the university. Training sessions recorded during the first phase were uploaded and made available to all users. This self-service enablement, along with the help of expert Adobe Sign administrators, has rapidly expanded Adobe Sign use.

Purchasing contracts completed in minutes

One of the first departments to roll out Adobe Sign was the purchasing department. The team works on thousands of purchase orders every year that may have related contracts or agreements that require signature. Some of the most complicated workflows involve UNM and the UNM Health Systems. While the organizations have close relationships, they still operate separately. If the UNM Hospital wants access to pharmaceuticals developed by the UNM School of Medicine, for example, the request is processed like a sale to an outside agency, with all of the expected complexities.

While the purchasing department previously used other electronic signature solutions, the switch to Adobe Sign improved cost efficiencies and took advantage of smart integrations for simplifying and applying electronic signatures to all documents.

“Hospital agreements could take weeks, but with Adobe Sign integrated with our procurement platform, Jaggaer, documents are being returned in minutes,” says Bruce Cherrin, chief procurement officer at UNM. “The integration means that our procurement system (Jaggaer) populates all of the fields in an agreement. Once signed, the document is pulled back into the right file in the system. This automation saves us multiple steps per agreement and reduces mistakes.”

Better managed healthcare grants

From contracts and agreements to research grants and subawards, administrators at UNM Health need to keep track of a great deal of documentation. While other e-signature tools had been previously deployed to create digital signature workflows, Adobe Sign adds another important enhancement to workflows with its strong administrative capabilities. Integrated into the organization’s Huron research software, Adobe Sign allows administrators to manage document workflows entirely through the familiar Huron interface.

“Audit trails give administrators insight into the exact progress of any document at any time,” says Sean Gonzales, sponsored project officer at the University of New Mexico Health Science Center. “They can provide reports to department chairs within minutes, and they no longer need to spend time tracking down documents. I would estimate that using Adobe Sign has improved signature turnaround time by at least 20 percent.”

Gonzales also praises Adobe Sign for other features, such as single sign-on, automated routing between multiple signers, and the ability for a signer to forward a document to another stakeholder for signature. “These capabilities make Adobe Sign a fantastic solution for administrators,” he notes.

Keeping undergraduate admissions open during a shutdown

When UNM needed to take its data center offline for maintenance, it picked Memorial Day weekend. The timing seemed perfect — students and faculty would be away, and no one would need access to the data center systems. But when the university decided to extend application deadlines for students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the university recognized a problem — the data center outage would also take down the online application.

UNM knew it was possible that if students could not apply over Memorial Day weekend, they might not apply at all. The university decided to transform a PDF version of the application into a digital application enabled through Adobe Sign. This version of the application hosted in Adobe Sign allowed UNM to keep admissions running during the downtime.

“Transforming PDF forms into Adobe Sign documents turned out to be easy,” says Steve Spence, manager of the IT enterprise application support team. “Adobe Acrobat DC helped us set up the forms just the way we wanted them, at which point we could seamlessly import them into Adobe Sign. We managed to keep applications online even during the data center outage. We also set a precedent for how we can turn other types of student forms into digital documents that can be filled out anywhere.”

Childcare for hundreds of families

The UNM Children’s Campus provides quality care for around 300 children of students, faculty, and staff at UNM. Every semester, Children’s Campus holds a three-day registration event for new and returning families. Families must show up on one of those three days to fill out registration forms with contact information, demographic data, dietary needs, and other important information about the child. But when faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, Children’s Campus discovered that it needed to switch to contactless applications — and fast.

“We were in talks with UNM Health about setting up emergency childcare for essential workers,” says Daniela Baca, director of Children’s Campus. “But just as importantly, an online application was something that families had been requesting for a while. They wanted to apply at their convenience. Adobe Sign was the answer we needed.”

With Adobe Sign, Children’s Campus turned its registration packet into an intuitive digital form. The digital form can be filled out anywhere, any time. It alerts parents to missing information before submission, and even propagates certain information across applications for siblings. If parents need to update information such as medications or approved contacts, they can follow a link and make changes at any time.

“One of the biggest benefits for employees like me is the accessibility of children’s information,” says Victoria Dimas, program specialist at Children’s Campus. “If I want to double check a new food restriction, I don’t need to go into our cabinets and search for the right file. I can log into a computer and have the information I need in 30 seconds. Adobe Sign makes it simple for both employees and families to keep on top of children’s information and provide better care.”

Driving efficiencies across campus

With Adobe Sign rolled out to all departments, UNM is focusing on building more integrations into key apps, such as Formstack and Microsoft Teams. As the integrations grow, Adobe Sign becomes even more seamless for people, prompting greater adoption and efficiencies across UNM.

Adobe Acrobat DC supports more efficient digital workflows, both with and without signature. Staff can create forms for Adobe Sign directly in Adobe Acrobat DC or quickly convert a Microsoft Word document into PDF format. Staff can share PDFs directly from the Acrobat interface, making it simple to distribute documents for reading or review. Any comments are collected onto the shared PDF for fast and easy collaboration and review cycles.

Documentation is critical to every department and office at UNM. With Adobe Document Cloud, UNM has standardized on enterprise solutions that support every type of document, workflow, and use case. By automating and streamlining documentation workflows, Adobe Sign and Adobe Acrobat DC help departments focus on what really matters — educating students and strengthening UNM’s role in serving the broader community.

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

Products: Document Cloud, Adobe Sign. Adobe Acrobat DC

Topics: Education, Document Cloud, Digital Transformation, Customer Stories, COVID-19