Case Study: Davis College Migrates to Alfresco Records Management for Improved Accuracy and Scalability

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  • Replaced Digitech Systems PaperVision and PaperFlow
  • Unlimited users access
  • Improved Scalability
  • Content accuracy through validation
  • Migrated over 30,000 documents
  • Reused existing equipment
  • Expanded records management without incurring additional costs


Located in Toledo, Ohio, Davis College, a private, two-year college, must adhere to state and federal regulations regarding archiving of student records and transcripts. Eight years ago, Davis College implemented Digitech Systems PaperVision and PaperFlow, document capture and document management technology, to help digitize and electronically store student records.

Using one dedicated computer and a high-volume scanner, staff scanned and indexed paper documents into TIFF files. Overtime, the college expanded the solution to include other document centric processes, such as time sheets and enrollments. With only one user license, sharing the dedicated computer across departments was a challenge. The system could not easily scale without a significant financial investment by the college.

Since upgrading the system was cost prohibitive, Davis College researched other content management solutions that would allow them to reuse their existing high-volume scanners and multifunctional printers (MFPs — scan, copy and print in one device). Key requirements included: ease of use; Web access to documents; unlimited user license; easy to scale; metadata support; and affordability.


Alfresco was selected to replace the PaperVision system. Alfresco’s per server licensing model provided the school with unlimited user access and data storage, rich document management functionality and greater flexibility. In addition, it was priced significantly lower than PaperVision’s basic five-user subscription and could scale to meet future archiving demands.

Development and testing on Alfresco took Davis College seven weeks. The college worked with Alfresco Platinum and Certified partner ArgonDigital to provide support through the implementation and with basic customization such as changing the default date/time format.

To simplify the scanning and indexing process, the college implemented the Blue Fish Document Indexing Module for Alfresco Share. With the Document Indexing Module, the college scans documents into Alfresco using their existing high speed scanner or departmental MFPs processing the documents in easy-to-use indexing queues. The college can now store and index PDF, GIF, JPEG, Word, Excel, and most other office and image file formats. Once the documents are scanned and indexed, they are moved to one of seven Alfresco Share sites for easy user access and search.

Davis College worked with Blue Fish to help migrate over 30,000 documents to Alfresco. Blue Fish programmed a CSV import routine to allow the college to move the document indexes and reclassify the image metadata that was exported from previous software.

Davis College created rules on how indexed data should be represented or formatted (such as dates and social security numbers). This ensures metadata consistency, data accuracy and improves document search. Since this was not available in the previous system, Alfresco identified numerous content indexing errors during the migration. The college is now verifying the information on any highlighted documents with the original paper documentation. Once complete, the school will begin disposing of paper documents in order to free up physical storage space.

Today, Davis College has added several users as indexers that can scan documents or images from the closest scanner and transfer the documents via a mapped network drive or an FTP client to an Alfresco Share site. The system will automatically convert any TIFF files to PDF. Before storing the document in Alfresco, a custom Java script runs in the background creating a new folder based on the current date and renames the file based on the date and time – down to the millisecond.

Users can log into an Alfresco Share site from any browser seamlessly with single sign-on and LDAP authentication. The user opens the Blue Fish Document Indexing Module for Alfresco Share to classify the document with the appropriate metadata. Once complete, the system automatically moves the document to the selected document library where college personnel can access and search for archived records.

“We have multiple records management needs throughout the college and require a scalable system that makes it easy to scan, index and digitally store information from any department or location across the campus. Not only is Alfresco more affordable, it provides us the flexibility our users and departments require. Information is securely available for users to search from any desktop and we can validate information for accuracy. This is a huge improvement over our previous solutions and we will look for ways to continue expanding our Alfresco implementation,” said Aaron Cowell, Network Administrator at Davis College.


  • Archived student records are now searchable and accessible to administrative staff directly from their desktop. No longer do users have to travel to a separate building or dedicated computer to scan or search archived transcripts saving time and resources.
  • The new system validates that information is entered correctly ensuring data accuracy and consistency.
  • LDAP integration guarantees that information is only available based on a user’s security permissions.
  • Users can scan, upload, and indes them from virtually anywhere on campus.
  • Davis College can expand document archiving to other departments without incurring additional costs.
  • The current Alfresco repository stores over 20GB of content.

What’s Next

The college has expanded the system to include the digital archiving of historical information from its Heritage Center which houses documents, images and news clippings about the college from the past 154 years. The center has one dedicated person who is scanning documents into Alfresco and another team that reviews, indexes and catalogs the information. Soon a portion of the information will be available internally for searching.

“With the Blue Fish Document Indexing Module for Alfresco Share, it is easy to turn Alfresco into an imaging system. Alfresco provides the scalable repository, while the Document Indexing Module enables you to scan from any MFP directly into Alfresco, creating indexing queues. Clients like Davis College can classify documents with appropriate metadata,” said Jeff Philipp, CEO of ArgonDigital.

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