$14,000 saved in a few months, 88% of applications processed in just three days, and 25 pieces of paper saved per agreement

As the Singaporean arm of Australia-based James Cook University, JCU Singapore is passionate about driving world-class outcomes for all of its staff and students. The university sits in the top 2% of universities worldwide, with a reputation for high graduate employment and a wide range of top-quality university-level programs.

JCU Singapore attracts students from all over Asia, with thousands of applications for study submitted each year. Managing these applications effectively is critical, as it strives to provide the best possible experience for students and its internal teams.

Recognizing an opportunity to drive some core improvements in this process, JCU Singapore engaged DocuSign to help streamline its Student Application System (SAS) by automating core admin tasks to give time back to staff and simplify the experience for students.

Seizing an opportunity for change

JCU Singapore receives roughly 6,000 student applications every year. These come from a diverse range of students, from full-time on-campus adults to international students under the age of 18. These applications all flow from online channels and recruitment agents to JCU Singapore’s marketing team.

Before DocuSign, marketing teams would collect and print all relevant documentation, fill in the application forms, scan them and save them in a folder, before requesting signatures from up to four different parties over email.

This was a time-consuming process that created many challenges for staff and students. Applications took up to 10 days to be signed and processed, consuming approximately 45% – or approximately 900 hours – of the team’s time.

Staff were also tracking applications using excel, creating challenges in ensuring applications were up-to-date and error-free. When staff were on leave or were working from home, it made tracking and verification even more difficult.

“Every application goes through multiple stages of approval,” said Director of ICT, Vijay Vikram Shreenivos. “They all need to be checked, verified and approved before even getting to students. This created a significant labor overhead for our staff to manage.”

Seamless integration, immediate impact

After assessing a range of electronic signature options, JCU Singapore chose DocuSign as it was the most cost-effective and feature-rich option to suit its business requirements.

“We were immediately impressed with DocuSign after our initial engagement,” Shreenivos added. “Our account manager was very responsive and willing to assist straight away. He spent time understanding our business requirements, rather than just trying to sell us software. They even gave us sandbox access before we signed the contract, which allowed us to test some functionality.”

DocuSign worked with JCU Singapore to execute a quick and painless integration of DocuSign eSignature into the organization’s K2 software solution, which it uses to help manage application submissions. After a few short training sessions, the tool was ready to use.  

“The tool was easy for our teams to pick up, as it became a part of their regular workflow within K2,” added James Cook University Singapore Project Manager, Hari Bala Murugan Sampath. “All application and student information is available in the K2 interface, so they don’t need to work across multiple systems.”

New workflow to support future innovations

With all forms now flowing directly to the K2 system and signed with DocuSign eSignature, students and staff enjoy a far simpler workflow.

Applications are now managed fully digitally, without the need to print out and scan physical documents. Staff can quickly and easily send forms to multiple internal stakeholders and get the necessary approvals and signatures with a single click, before sending applications back to students. Everything is tracked directly within K2, providing complete visibility over application status.

With all information pre-populated using templates, students simply sign using eSignature and the application is processed.

“DocuSign has made things dramatically easier from both an internal and external perspective,” Sampath says. “We now process 88% of our applications in just three days, with some fully processed in just a few hours.”

This incredible time-saving allows JCU Singapore’s teams to spend more time on value-adding initiatives, leading to direct improvements in processes and ultimately student experiences.

It’s also driven considerable cost savings. With over 400 envelopes sent since it integrated the tool in August 2022, it’s already saved over $14,000. With roughly 6,000 applications sent yearly, it could realize more than $200,000 worth of savings over a year.

As each application is between 15 and 25 pages long, it’s also saved a huge amount of paper. That helps streamline JCU Singapore’s internal operations while putting it on a path towards a more sustainable, paperless future.

“Overall, the DocuSign team has been proactive from start to finish,” Shreenivos concludes. “They helped us build a path that matched our needs and the ongoing support has been great. It’s been so successful that we’re now investigating how we can integrate the tool with other processes, including within our HR department. There is a range of opportunities on the horizon.”