Online Forms: A Green Solution That Also Improves Efficiency and Security

Ohio State’s Graduate School processes half as many paper forms today as it did a year ago. This transformation is thanks to GradForms, a new online system that streamlined the Graduate School’s forms, creating a more efficient way to process graduate student examinations, dissertations and theses, and applications for graduation.

The idea originated with Doug Brownfield, director of information technology and business services for the Graduate School. He took a hard look at traditional processes that generated mountains of paperwork, required shuffling forms from office to office for signatures, and inevitability wasted time. He knew there had to be a better way.

Brownfield contacted the Office of the Chief Information Officer for assistance, soon began working with the Web and Mobile Team, and GradForms was born.

“Doug contacted us, and we worked closely with him and the Graduate School to understand their vision and requirements,” said Ben Hancock, Associate Director of Web & Mobile. “It was an ideal time to tackle this challenge, because OCIO was already working to upgrade web frameworks and provide mobile accessibility to our web applications. We were able to leverage both of these existing projects to make GradForms everything that Doug had envisioned.”

GradForms allows students to both initiate and sign forms online. It links forms based on student ID and emails them to approvers to authorize the forms. Approvals and form status can be viewed at any time by students, staff coordinators, chairs, faculty and committee members

“Frankly, this was the best collaborative project that I’ve been involved with during my 24 years at Ohio State,” Brownfield said. “This was a great group of people to work with — talented, dedicated and fun.”

Using the success of GradForms as a springboard, Brownfield is now working with the development group to convert other paper-based student processes in the Graduate School to online solutions.

OCIO is dedicated to offering collaborative leadership and technical expertise to support our partners and the university’s mission. For more information contact Dave Kieffer by email or at 688-4272.

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