In the May GME, Fresno County Assessor Recorder’s (ASR) Office described how it uses Laserfiche Quick Fields to process 95% of incoming forms in its Property Transfers Division. This month, Fresno’s Vito Filippi, Systems and Procedures Analyst, gets granular about how the Division configures Quick Fields sessions to capture and process its ‘Claims for Reassessment Exclusion’ forms.
“The staff was really good in sitting down and critically looking at how they do business with their documents,” Filippi says. “Because of that, they were able to come up with the identifying fields that process 95% of their documents.”
In a series of narrated screen shots, Filippi provides an overview of the process, along with some best-practice advice:
- Avoid inputting information from the same document at the same time.
- Use best practices and practical needs to manage metadata.
- How the Property Transfers Division configured their template.
- 67 database fields shared across 26 document templates.
- “People love stamps here.”
- Processing ‘Claims for Reassessment Exclusion’ forms.
- Extracting data from the form.
- Create templates first to help determine fields.
- How tokens use fields to name documents.
- Include the document type in its name for future associated use.
- Can’t find something? Check the folder path.
- Use Zone OCR to extract data from a specific area of a document.
1. Avoid inputting information from the same document at the same time.
“When you first open Laserfiche Quick Fields, it tells you the recent sessions you already opened based on your log-in ID. If someone is using that session, you can’t open it—which is good because you’re avoiding the cross-scanning, as I call it,” says Filippi. “You might have people trying to input information from the same document at the same time. Some users don’t like it because they say, ‘Well, it cuts down on productivity,’ but you have to think of the bigger picture here: We want to make sure we have accurate document data in our repository. That overrides everything else, so I’m glad Laserfiche considered that in the software’s design too.”
2. Use best practices and practical needs to manage metadata.
“Metadata management is a good source of one-stop shopping for us to identify what we’re using, what we have as far as templates and fields, and where we can cross reference data and information in our document repository,” says Filippi. The Assessor Recorder’s 26 templates below were developed in-house working with department staff to determine their respective best practices and practical needs. “Everything you see is what we’ve created internally going through the processes, testing and then streamlining.”
3. How the Property Transfers Division configured its template.
“Property Transfers has decided to do ‘one-stop shopping,’ so this is their template,” explains Filippi. “All the field names on the left are common to every single document type they use. What’s really important is on the right under ‘required.’ When staff scans these documents through Quick Fields, the only field that needs to be inputted at the time of capture is the document number. Good or bad, that’s how they’ve maximized their efficiency. They’re identifying their best business processes to help them sort and go to these documents.”
4. 67 database fields shared across 26 document templates.
The Assessor Recorder’s Office uses 67 different types of fields to process and index documents—social security numbers, permit numbers, names, notice dates and so on. “Laserfiche has hundreds and hundreds of field capabilities you use to name your documents or manage your repository with,” Filippi says. “Pretty much everything in our repository that is searchable has a field and is listed here.”
5. “People love stamps here.”
In addition to fields and tags, departments use stamps electronically affixed to a document that employees have customized to their needs and preferences. “As you can see, there’s quite a few of these. I’d like to see less,” Filippi laughs, “but people love stamps here.”
6. Processing ‘Claims for Reassessment Exclusion’ forms.
‘Claim for Reassessment Exclusion’ forms are required by Proposition 58, which exempts a property from tax reassessment when it passes between parents and children. On the left, the ‘Page Processing’ list displays the ‘menu’ of adjustments and refinements that will be made to the document. This session, for instance:
- Runs optical character recognition (OCR – see slide 12 below) to capture the assessor’s parcel number.
- Rotates the document upright.
- Removes blank pages.
“You only have to do this once—when Quick Fields identifies this document type, it will process it according to that configuration,” Filippi says. “Laserfiche has given us a lot of options on how to process documents at the time of capture.”
7. Extracting data from the form.
Says Filippi of the ‘Fields’ highlighted on the right, “When the users created this document, they identified that these pieces of information—the year, the document number, the APN and so on—are all critical to identifying, processing and efficiently moving this document through their business processes.”
8. Create templates first to help determine fields.
Before determining fields, Filippi recommends, “The first step is to create a template for a particular document type,” or a ‘blueprint,’ as he calls it. “Then, from those templates, you get an idea of your fields,” he says. “The important thing is to understand the document types first, which are identified by your templates. And then, what fields you need in each of those documents to make them do what you need them to do.”
9. How tokens use fields to name documents.
The specific metadata fields in the ‘Property Transfers’ template will be used to name the document via a token, seen here in the ‘Default document name’ window ‘Fields.’ “When you see the ‘%’ sign, this is an actual script format that Laserfiche recommends to capture what you’re seeing right now. For ‘document number,’ the syntax is ‘%, bracket, field, doc number.’ Every time we run a session, we tell it, ‘capture this information in the document so our people don’t have to key it.’”
10. Include the document type in its name for future associated use.
“When you look up the document, you’ll see that it’s named according to the document number, the year and ‘Proposition 58.’ Now, the reason we do this—and this is just our business process—is to get to a point that whenever you type in a document APN, that eight-digit number will get every associated document that comes up with it, including a Prop 58. Some people say, ‘Why are you putting the name in again?’ Well, that’s why we do it,” says Filippi, adding, “Whatever fields you have, you can include up here. But this Division, in this document type-case, has decided only to put document number, year and the name.”
11. Can’t find something? Check the folder path.
When a file can’t be found, Filippi says check the ‘Properties’ column, a “one-stop shop for diagnosing problems,” as he calls it. “If you can’t find your document when you scan or capture, this ‘Properties’ tab on the right is the first place you should look. Most of the time, the folder path is wrong.”
12. Use Zone OCR to extract data from a specific area of a document.
Zone OCR is what allows ASR to pull data from a specific area of a document type, in this case the assessor’s parcel number (APN). Filippi says there was “some trial and error involved initially” with how big an area to OCR, eventually reducing the zone from the entire document to just the APN. The Department has since reduced its error rate from 20% to about 3%. “So if you know that your critical data is always going to be in one area of a given document, then I would suggest you maximize that ability,” he says. “Our clerical staff doesn’t have to key this information.”
Filippi points to this as another example of how Quick Fields is “really well thought out from a user perspective—you can tell it which pages to OCR. Again, it all depends on how you want it to work to suit your processes in-house. The critical components of the software have been really well thought out. But, you’ve got enough options to really make it your own. And that’s why it’s really been so huge for us here!”