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Softdocs builds on growth in electronic document market

Technology
Chuck Crumbo
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A recent move into a new 55,000-square-foot headquarters offers Columbia-based technology provider Softdocs the room it needs to grow.

“This is an exciting time for Softdocs and the larger space enables the company to continue our momentum in 2016 and prepare for future growth in sales, personnel, and customer service,” said Mike Murphy, CEO and co-founder of privately held Softdocs.

Softdocs’ growth plans are prompted by the company’s double-digit revenue growth in 2015 and the launch of its next generation Etrieve platform, used by schools for enterprise content management, process automation and electronic forms.

MurphySoftdocs’ performance in 2015 also resulted in being named an Inc. 5000 honoree for the fourth time.

In 2016, the company expects to increase its workforce – which currently numbers 67 – by 30% to 40%, Murphy said. Those new jobs are across the company – from system analyst to sales to tech support.

Softdocs’ growth required the company to move into a renovated former textile mill at 807 Bluff Road from an 8,500-square-foot building located a couple of blocks away on Hemlock Road.

To suit the work done at Softdocs, the facility features collaborative workspaces, on-site training space and an employee fitness center.

Softdocs also has capitalized on its location near Williams-Brice Stadium, home of the University of South Carolina football team, by opening up 10,000 square feet of the building to be used by some of the football fans who lease 122 parking spaces on the property, Murphy said. The air-conditioned indoor space also is available for private events like wedding parties and even political rallies. (During the March primary the space was used by Republican Sen. Mario Rubio’s campaign.)

Launched in 1998, Softdocs has developed browser-based solutions that transform the way schools – K-12 through higher education institutions – process daily business.

One of the challenges all schools face is the need to retain student records, which some states require be kept up to 100 years. (South Carolina requires college transcripts be retained for 70 years, Murphy said.)

For the schools, a strong selling point is the reduction of costly paperwork processing, postage for mailing forms, and having a place to store the documents. The company estimates that going paperless translate to a space savings of 13 cubic feet per average filing cabinet.

Softdocs’ greatest area of growth for both K-12 and higher education markets is the West, Northwest, and New England in the U.S., and also Canada, said Andrew Daniel, vice president of inside sales and marketing teams.

However, the company counts all of South Carolina’s technical colleges as clients and has built strong relationships with colleges in North Carolina, too.

Softdocs’ products are based on three web-based software systems: Etrieve Content, Etrieve Forms and Etrieve Flow.

  • Etrieve Content allows the user to access and store documents within an intuitive, visual electronic filing structure that’s secure and eliminates the need for paper files. Etrieve Content also provides accurate tracking of electronic documents.
  • Etrieve Forms allows the client to create its own electronic forms that can be used for a number of routine matters. For example, filling out and verifying a financial aid application allows the school to trim what can take several weeks if done with paper forms to three days, Daniel said. The process, which includes forms that are pre-populated with an applicant’s personal information, allows for quicker decisions on granting aid, which benefits both the school and student, said Robert Satcher, executive vice president and CFO. “It’s more of a soft dollar savings where they can get students in faster, and make better decisions to get the students they want.”
  • Etrieve Flow allows the schools to handle a number of business processes electronically. One common use, Daniel said, is the handling of teacher contracts. The application allows the school district to send out teacher contracts and have them signed and returned within a day instead of three to four weeks. Besides reducing paperwork, the speed in handling allows administrators to know within days who’s coming back to work and how many positions they might need to fill for the next school year, a huge advantage in recruiting personnel.

Etrieve applications also are designed with “mobile first” technology, allowing them to be accessed regardless of electronic devices or operating systems, Daniel said.

Colleges and universities that still use paper forms are at a disadvantage in recruiting today’s student, Daniel explained. “Students don’t want to fill out paper forms anymore,” he said. “They want to do it on their smartphone.”

Reach Chuck Crumbo at 803-726-7542.

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