University of Alberta increases
timely access to policies and procedures

by Stellent Staff


As one of Canada's foremost research-intensive universities, the University of Alberta strives to provide its more than 34,000 students and 9,400 academic, support and trust staff with the most up-to-date information on university policies and procedures. However, the task of managing existing hard-copy protocol, and new policies and procedures, presented a growing challenge during a time of limited resources.

By 2002, the hard-copy core of the university's administrative policies and procedures -- or the Manual of Administrative Policies, Procedures and Services (MAPPS) -- had become sufficiently unwieldy, warranting initiation of a project to re-centralize and digitize this content. The university's Computer and Networking Services (CNS) department was brought in to assist with identifying and implementing the required content management technology.

After considering a number of content management vendors both large and small, local and global, the University of Alberta selected Stellent® Universal Content Management to create an Internet site for electronically organizing and managing the university's past, present and future policies and procedures.

"The University of Alberta's previous method for updating and distributing administrative content was extremely inefficient. Our main objective in selecting a content management solution was to centralize all of the university's policies and procedures, and more importantly, make updated information available to our community in a timely fashion," said Akiyah Clements, Express Applications project leader for the University of Alberta. "Several content management solutions were considered for this project, and after due evaluation against our requirements, Stellent's technology was rated the most suitable. The university was particularly impressed with the 'out-of-the-box' functionality offered by the Stellent system."

How the University of Alberta's Internet site works

Stellent Universal Content Management serves as the foundation of the University of Alberta's Policy and Procedures On-line (UA PPOL) Internet site, streamlining the process of creating, managing and updating its policies and procedures online. To support this site (see screen shot), the university primarily uses the Web content management and document management components of Stellent's Universal Content Management architecture, which also includes records management, collaboration and digital asset management functionality.

The university stores all UA PPOL content in Stellent® Content Server in its native format, such as a word processing document or spreadsheet, enabling users to view and modify it quickly and efficiently. University personnel are able to contribute content to the system using only a Web browser. At the time of contribution, metadata is assigned to each piece of content, making the policies and procedures easily searchable.

After content is submitted into the Stellent system, the University of Alberta utilizes Stellent® Content Publisher to publish all information to its Internet site, automatically converting policies and procedures from their native formats to Web-viewable formats such as HTML and PDF -- eliminating the need to route content through a Webmaster for coding. Together, Content Server and Content Publisher allow consistent presentation of all policies and procedures across the Internet site, and enable the University of Alberta to update and publish policies and procedures as soon as they are approved.

To secure proper approvals, the university uses Stellent's built-in workflow capabilities to ensure all necessary parties within governance protocol have reviewed and incorporated any necessary changes into UA PPOL documents. Additionally, Stellent Universal Content Management's version control feature makes certain only the most current policies and procedures are available for consumption, while previous information is saved for archiving purposes.

Due to the success of the initial UA PPOL rollout, the university has implemented another Web-based initiative using the Stellent system. The University Infrastructure Records Access Program (UIRAP) provides the planning and infrastructure department with secure, online access to all building drawings, including mechanical and electrical specifications. In addition to contributing these drawings directly into Stellent from computer-aided design (CAD) programs, university staff can scan older, hard-copy drawings into the system. To date, more than 32,000 drawings are housed in Stellent Universal Content Management.

Benefits of using Stellent Universal Content Management

The University of Alberta is still in the process of migrating previous hard-copy policies and procedures to electronic format but has already experienced many benefits from its Stellent Universal Content Management implementation. Most significant has been the ability to provide timely access to policies and procedures, and planning and infrastructure documents.

For example, when the policies and procedures project is complete, students and staff will no longer be required to go to multiple Web sites or contact multiple departments to find the policies and procedures they need. Instead, these groups will be able to access every policy and procedure, whether it relates to university financials and governance or human resources and research, from any Web-accessible location.

The Stellent system also has allowed the University of Alberta to eliminate a former major hassle: locating and obtaining the most recent versions of both a policy and its corresponding, up-to-date procedure. "Previously, an individual [faculty member, staff or student] might find a policy they were looking for, but not necessarily find the most current procedure[s] in the same location. With the Stellent system, we have set up a systemized organizational structure that forces us to review, modify and publish these documents in the same locale," Clements added.

University staff involved with the UIRAP site note similar benefits related to information accessibility. "Not only do University trade staff have the ability to obtain mechanical and engineering drawings, but off-site contractors and project managers also can access password-protected documents from any Web browser," Clements said. "This functionality has greatly reduced the number of planning meetings and trips to the university required by off-site partners, saving both time and money for all parties involved. Our investment in the Stellent system continues to pay dividends, and we look forward to utilizing it for additional university initiatives in the future."

University of Alberta Policies and Procedures On-line Vision

From the UA PPOL Website: "University of Alberta Policies and Procedures On-line (UA PPOL) will be the single source of University of Alberta institution-wide policy and procedure, and related supplementary information not otherwise available in other official source publications. UA PPOL will serve the University as an integral part of its operations information framework by providing ready access to information." A University Policy is "A statement outlining expectations of behavior pertaining to certain activities or matters set out in relevant legislation (i.e. the Post-secondary Learning Act) and approved at the University’s senior levels of governance: the Board of Governors (BOG) and/or General Faculties Council (GFC); committees of the BOG and GFC having the delegated authority to approve certain policy; and the President, President’s Executive Committee, the Executive Planning Committee, or Vice-Presidents." A University Procedure "serves to operationalize policy. A University procedure is an institution-wide or standardized procedure outlining a required process and/or set of instructions to be followed for achieving a specified purpose/outcome."

Stellent Universal Content and Process Management Features

Stellent Universal Content and Process Management provides rapid success and distinct advantages to customers via its product functionality, breadth of content managed, architecture and solutions ­­ all which enable rapid implementation and quick user adoption. The integrated Universal Content and Process Management architecture offers a full array of content management functionality ­­ featuring document management, Web content management, digital asset management and imaging ­­ supported by collaboration, records management and business process management services. The scalable system manages and delivers the entire spectrum of unstructured content, from active content such as documents, graphics and Web pages to fixed content including scanned images, email and records.

"Like businesses around the world, higher education institutions are faced with the challenge of managing an overwhelming amount of content," said Robert Olson, president and chief executive officer for Stellent. "It is critical for these organizations to gain control of this content in order to efficiently serve students, staff and vendors ­­ something the University of Alberta is well on its way to achieving using Stellent Universal Content Management."

About University of Alberta

Opened in 1908 as a board-governed, public institution, the University of Alberta in Edmonton has grown to be one of Canada¹s foremost research-intensive universities ­­ serving more than 34,000 students in more than 200 undergraduate programs and 170 graduate programs. The university¹s pioneering spirit inspires faculty and students to advance knowledge through research, to seek innovation in teaching and learning, and to find new ways to serve the people of Alberta and the world. Check URL

About Stellent

Stellent, Inc. is a global provider of content management software solutions that drive rapid success for customers by enabling fast implementations and generating quick, broad user adoption. With Stellent, customers can easily deploy multiple line-of-business applications ­­ such as accounts payable imaging, claims processing, Web sites, call centers, compliance processes and dealer extranets ­­ and also scale the technology to support enterprise-wide content management needs. Stellent has more than 3,500 customers, including Procter & Gamble, Merrill Lynch, Los Angeles County, The Home Depot, British Red Cross, ING, GlaxoSmithKline, Georgia Pacific, Bayer Corp., Coca-Cola FEMSA, Emerson Process Management and Genzyme Corp. The company is headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minn. and maintains offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. The Web URL is

From the Editor: Some Questions for Further Analysis and Discussion

  1. What is the purpose of content management? How does content managemt differ from building a Data Warehouse?
  2. Is this a document-driven Decision Support System? Why or why not?
  3. What technologies were used?
  4. What is the major benefit of this application to decision makers? other users? Why?
  5. What problems or difficulties do you anticipate with the use of this type of decision support solution?

Please cite as:

Stellent Staff, "University of Alberta increases timely access to policies and procedures", September 17, 2004, at URL DSSResources.COM.

Amanda Kohls, Haberman & Associates, Inc., for Stellent provided permission to use this case study and screen shot at DSSResources.COM on July 19, 2004. The final version was reviewed and approved Wednesday, September 8, 2004. This case study was posted at DSSResources.COM on Friday, September 17, 2004.

This case study is provided for informational purposes only. DSSResources.COM makes no warranties, express or implied, about this case summary.

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