Head of the Class: Silicon Valley School Digitizes Architectural Documents

The Harker School is a private institution based in Silicon Valley that has earned international recognition for its academic performance, quality teachers, and student achievements. As its reputation has grown, so has its campus foot print. In 15 years, the school has expanded from a single location to four campuses, and the volume of documents charting the progress of new construction and state-of-the-art facilities has grown just as quickly.

File cabinets containing blueprints, drawings, reports, and contracts were bursting at the seams. Of course, that made locating specific documents—mainly those of the archival variety—an extremely time-consuming and tedious task.

Clearly, if Harker was grading itself on efficiency, they’d get a “B-.”

From Cabinets to the Cloud

It was no surprise when Harker’s facility coordinator, Janet Rohrer, and ARC Archives solutions met face-to-face. When Rohrer reviewed the offering, the appeal of cloud-based document management was compelling, but it became even more attractive once the costs were penciled out.

After ARC provided an onsite demonstration to both Rohrer and Mike Bassoni, Harker’s facility manager, they were certain the school would benefit from the solution.

ARC returned to collect all of Harker’s documents—approximately 500 large format plans and other documents — and brought them into their Archives service center where they organized, scanned, indexed and uploaded them to ARC’s cloud over the following week.

This more organized archive certainly pushed Harker’s grade higher, but extra credit was needed before they could give themselves an “A.”

From Storage to Sharing

Converting hardcopy documents to digital documents is great for clearing out space and preserving documents from being inadvertently destroyed. Document destruction is a major concern with hardcopy documents as most organizations don’t keep or can’t afford a second off-site backup facility; a fire, flood or over-zealous spring cleaning can destroy important information forever.

However, putting everything in the cloud doesn’t mean access is easy or automatic. Combing through a digital archive without the benefit of a powerful search engine can sometimes be as frustrating as paging through hundreds of pieces of paper.

ARC’s comprehensive Archives solution builds in search and allows users of the system to explore and discover the documents they need in the same way a Web user might search using Google. Just as importantly, because ARC’s experience and domain expertise encompasses the way architects, engineers and construction professionals use such documents, organization schemes, indexing characteristics and the user interface is purpose-built to make finding and using information inside building plans and specifications easy, fast and convenient.

It also makes sharing documents between users a breeze.

“This sharing function was key for us,” said Bassoni. “It’s incredibly useful to be able to give a structural engineer a link to a specific drawing that they can view on their laptop or tablet.”

Another major benefit of ARC Archives that hasn’t escaped Harker’s notice is its environmental impact. By sharing documents electronically, the school’s carbon footprint has been cut back considerably. They’ve cut down on printing, dramatically reduced the amount of space needed to store documents, and decreased the amount of driving between campuses to locate drawings and information.

Effective administration contributes enormously to improving education; less time locating information means more time in front of the students. As the Harker School took the same approach to managing their document archive, it’s clear why we continue to see this innovative and excellent school at the head of their class.