Top Three Uses of Technology to Support the Accreditation Self Study
Erin Bell serves as chair of the Product Development Steering Committee for Strategic Planning Online. She is the certified trainer, providing implementation support, on-site user training, and ongoing user group support through her consulting company, Strategy U.
We have all looked at various accreditation software solutions to assist us with the SACS Accreditation Self-Study, but how can we use this technology to best serve us? There are three compelling functions of any accreditation software solution that support the SACS self-study process, and make the entire process easier and more efficient.
- Keeping Track of Narrative Versions
- Managing Growing Document Libraries
- Ensuring Web Links Remain Current
Keeping Track of SACS Accreditation Narratives
Technology is a wonderful thing, and can certainly make your life a lot easier. But have you ever found yourself in a situation where you start using an accreditation software solution only to realize that you’ve created a difficult process that’s going to be hard to sustain as the project grows?
I’ve encountered this scenario a number of times when trying to manage large projects such as the SACS accreditation self-study. The initial plan for managing the task before you seems reasonable and doable. As you progress in the task, you gain faith in your plan because it has proven itself to be manageable. But then you hit a point of critical mass where your accreditation narratives are impossibly long and littered with web links and references to appendices that must be assembled, documented, and updated. To compound the problem you eventually end up with multiple versions of SACS narratives for every standard being emailed amongst your team members.
Eventually the collection of evidentiary documents becomes large and unwieldy. After a while you simply begin saving files to your desktop to simplify the process. While you’re juggling all of these narrative versions, documents, and web-links you realize that there must be a better solution. There must be some type of accreditation software solution that solves this problem. Then the search for an accreditation software solution begins, devouring even more of your critical time.
I’ve talked to enough SACS accreditation liaisons and self-study chairs to know that this problem is not unique, but a common problem given the size and complexity of preparing for SACS accreditation. With the time you have to accomplish your SACS compliance report, and the fact that more work will fall in the 11th hour than anyone anticipated it’s easy to get disorganized. The process can quickly become painful. It’s a pain that is shared by so many Institutional Effectiveness Directors. But it’s a pain that can be alleviated with the proper use of technology to manage the job.
I have prepared a white paper that discusses this problem further and demonstrates how to find an accreditation software solution that is robust, comprehensive, and customizable for your institutional processes. The download is offered to help other Institutional Effectiveness folks like us to get though the SACS Accreditation painlessly.