Laserfiche News Portal » Customer Stories Document Management and Enterprise Content Management News, Document Management Blog Wed, 22 May 2013 21:55:17 +0000 en hourly 1 Hanover County Tackles Workflow for Tax Documents Mon, 22 Oct 2012 18:44:33 +0000 admin

Located just outside of Richmond, VA, Hanover County serves a population of more than 100,000 residents. During tax season, keeping up the books for the constituency can be a daunting task for the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office, which manages all of the county’s real estate, personal, property and state income tax information.

In 2000, Commissioner Scott Harris pushed for the office to eliminate all paper processes to decrease the time staff spent finding and filing tax records. After saving funds every year for an enterprise content management (ECM) system, the office purchased Laserfiche in 2006.

The department began using Laserfiche simply as a digital file cabinet and digitized over 85% of its tax documents in just the first year. However, when the department’s systems administrator, Amy Johnson, attended a user meeting hosted by the county’s reseller, Unity Business Systems, she saw how other organizations were leveraging Laserfiche’s advanced functionality and knew Hanover County could use its ECM system to do more than document search and retrieval.
To take advantage of Laserfiche’s newest features, the county upgraded to Laserfiche Rio in 2010 and started not only storing records, but revamping entire business processes.

 Improving Document Approval with Workflow

The most beneficial module for the department has been Laserfiche Workflow, a business process management tool included with Laserfiche Rio. Even without a background in IT, Johnson quickly learned the system and began using it to automate the processing and review of the department’s statutory assessment worksheets.
Every year, the office completes statutory assessment worksheets to measure the personal property assets of each local business in the county. Before Laserfiche, compiling and processing these worksheets prior to review led to significant printing costs and time delays.

An integration between Laserfiche Quick Fields and the department’s AS/400 database has the eliminated cumbersome, upfront manual data entry for the process. Instead of re-entering information into new worksheets, staff simply relies on Laserfiche to pull related information stored in the AS400 (i.e. name and address) and insert it into multiple records at the same time.

After data entry, Laserfiche Workflow automates the entire records approval process for managers. New worksheets are immediately searchable in Laserfiche from managers’ desktops, allowing staff to quickly review worksheets and better serve customers on the phone and in person.

With Laserfiche Snapshot, an image capture tool, the office has also completely eliminated redundant printing of these records. Prior to using Laserfiche, documents were collected daily, sorted and filed by date and taxpayer name in file cabinets. Using Snapshot, staff can digitally “print” both scanned paper and electronic documents directly into the Laserfiche repository for filing.

“Snapshot seems like a minor thing, but it was a huge benefit for us because we don’t have to print paper anymore,” says Johnson, estimating that the system saves the office from printing about 15,000 pages a year.

The county also relies on Laserfiche as an automated backbone for records management and retention. With paper, each staff member dedicated at least one day a week to sorting records for filing. Laserfiche has eliminated the need for this rotating position by automatically filing and storing approved documents by type and name for the six-year retention period.

“Everything we do is linked onto a foundation based on Laserfiche Records Management Edition, which allows us to log our records according to state records management standards,” says Johnson.

Johnson says that up-front planning with every employee involved in the process has eased the office’s transition to digital document approval. When she began using Laserfiche Workflow, Johnson invited all the managers responsible for approving documents, along with the division manager, to join her as she drew out the process on a piece of paper. The group discussed every detailed step together and determined how the managers would prefer to approve worksheets in Laserfiche.

“Time spent diagramming upfront will more than pay itself back later. Because we took the time to evaluate our documents, we ended up eliminating a lot of junk in our paper files,” notes Johnson. “It’s also really important to give staff ownership over the process.”

Tapping into the Laserfiche User Community 

Beyond her work at the county, Johnson is also a leader of the Laserfiche User Group in Virginia, a consortium of Laserfiche users that holds quarterly meetings to foster the exchange of ECM knowledge. The group has grown to include more than 100 members throughout the state. Johnson helps organize special presentations for members, such as a recent workshop by the Library of Virginia on improving compliance with state records management standards.

“The User Group is so beneficial for networking and talking with other users. It’s a great place to hear about the lessons that other users have learned,” says Johnson.

Additionally, Johnson cites the annual Laserfiche Empower conference, reseller support and technical white papers as invaluable resources for improving her skills in using the software.

“Our implementation is so successful because of the community. Laserfiche listens to feedback and uses it to shape its next release. Everyone’s so approachable and helpful, and that makes it easy to like the product,” she says.

Looking to Forms for the Future 

With the upgrade to Laserfiche Rio in place, the county plans to implement Laserfiche as a standard tool in many more of its 45 departments. The County Administrator’s Office is currently using Laserfiche to scan, distribute and file daily correspondence to deputy county administrators. Johnson is also working with the Treasurer’s Office to shore up the security of confidential documents with Laserfiche.

The county is also excited to use the upcoming release of Laserfiche Forms in conjunction with a redesigned Website. Online form submission is the most requested feature from the county’s taxpayers, and Laserfiche Forms will give the county the ability to gather constituent data for business and personal property forms, business license applications, land use documents and the like directly from the county Website and use this data to kick off related business processes within Laserfiche.

Adopting new software functionality as it becomes available has helped Hanover County gain top value out of its ECM system. With these new tools, the county is truly leveraging the power of its constituent data in digital form to help transform the way county business is accomplished.

“Laserfiche is the one tool on your desktop that actually does what it’s supposed to do and what you ask it to do,” notes Johnson. “It’s one of my favorite parts of my job.”

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How Jackson County’s Records Management Solution is Winning Friends and Influencing People Wed, 26 Sep 2012 18:17:24 +0000 admin Located in the scenic southwest corner of Oregon, Jackson County is home to a growing population of more than 200,000 residents—a growing population that in recent years has produced both a higher demand for services and more public records. Like many local government offices, Jackson County was flush with paper documents and short on storage space.

Additionally, the county must store and organize most of its departments’ records in complex records structures according to state and federal laws for records retention. With paper records, enforcing retention schedules while ensuring staff could still find and retrieve records involved tedious manual steps for staff across the county.

“There was a complicated system of filing with colored labels on the folders,” says Devin Goble, Programmer Analyst for Jackson County’s IT department. “Complying with retention meant staff had to look through each folder on the shelves, a very time-consuming process.”

Even though the county knew its departments needed an enterprise content management (ECM) system, skepticism toward digital content—and new IT projects—was strong among employees.

“It was a hard fight to get ECM implemented in the county. People were thoroughly entrenched in their paper processes,” says Goble.

To offer a valuable solution to staff, Goble led a search for an ECM system that could satisfy many different users’ needs and eliminate manual paper processes.

Laserfiche appealed to the IT department because it offered a well-supported feature set with a solid, built-in records management component. After hearing the positive experiences of other cities and counties using Laserfiche, Goble was assured that his IT department could structure Laserfiche in a way that would win over skeptical departments.

Warranting a Transparent Records Management Solution

Although many departments wanted a solution to their paper problems, the county began its Laserfiche implementation in the Sheriff’s Office in 2011. The diverse types of records handled by law enforcement staff offered the perfect testing ground for an improved records management process. Felony records, for example, must be retained by the department for ten years, while records managers can destroy certain types of warrants after five and others after ten. Keeping track of different retention schedules while making paper documents easily accessible to clerks was difficult for the department.

Laserfiche’s Records Management Edition, a DoD 5015.2-certified records management solution, allowed the IT department to separate what Goble calls the “nuts and bolts of records management” from general document use. Using Laserfiche’s transparent records management approach, the department was able to customize content management based on staff members’ job functions and easily organize the same documents in different ways for records managers and deputies.

For example, the four types of warrants handled by the department all require two separate retention schedules. When a warrant is received and scanned into the department’s digital document repository, Laserfiche automatically puts every warrant in its own record series folder, allowing records managers to view warrants in a batch by type or year and purge them at the appropriate time.

Record Managers' Folder Structure

At the same time, Laserfiche establishes a separate folder structure for deputies and clerks that lists individual warrants by warrant type and warrant number. Because deputies are usually searching for more granular information within a specific case or a subpoena, Laserfiche automatically organizes documents so that deputies can easily find the detailed case information within a record.

Deputies and Clerks' Folder View

It’s a best of both worlds solution: records managers can easily find and filter warrants based on disposition schedules while, at the same time, deputies can access individual warrants without knowing anything about records naming conventions. Everyone can work with law enforcement documents in the manner they prefer.

“Laserfiche’s transparent records management tools allow us to create a second view of the data in as many places as we need to. Records managers see it in one way. Clerks see it in another way. In some cases, others in the Sheriff’s hierarchy can see it in a completely different way,” says Goble.

Furthermore, an integration between Laserfiche and Tiburon, the department’s CAD/RMS system, pulls relevant names, place and incident dates from the police records upon scanning. Laserfiche Quick Fields auto-populates this information as metadata within the warrant file. Laserfiche Workflow then routes the warrant through the transparent records management filing process, eliminating the time-consuming, manual data entry and document routing steps for staff.

Streamlining Information Management 

Laserfiche has also completely automated the department’s civil jacket process, which once included tedious data entry by records managers.

For civil cases, deputies compile an envelope of documents called a civil jacket that includes court documents and other records related to an incident when a subpoena is served. When these envelopes are scanned into the document repository, Laserfiche automatically fixes the civil jacket number to comply with the state’s records policy and forwards the documents to clerks for quality assurance.

“We take that act of moving data around and complying with retention policies out of users’ hands as much as possible. In some cases, users never have to touch the documents after they scan them. Laserfiche does all the rest,” says Goble.

Eliminating manual steps helps staff focus on getting their jobs done instead of tracking down and organizing paper. Temporary staff can complete scanning tasks without needing to be trained on document retention parameters, and records managers aren’t burdened with data entry. Laserfiche’s automation tools also eliminate the security risk of records being moved out of their records series.

“Not only do users not have to worry about where things go, they can’t change the filing structure even if they want to. This structure is locked in place by policy,” says Goble.

Furthermore, the Sheriff’s Office can directly push documents to the District Attorney’s office using Laserfiche WebLink, an online Web portal that provides read-only access to documents. High-profile cases often require transferring thousands of pages of records to the DA. With WebLink, the Sheriff’s Office can upload select documents to the online portal and give DA staff secure access to the information, eliminating costly printing and shipping expenses and streamlining litigation.

Building Enterprise-Wide Enthusiasm for ECM 

The initial implementation was so successful that the skeptical end users have started evangelizing Laserfiche to other departments. Goble says he is fielding questions from other departments about records management and Laserfiche all the time.

“It’s nice to give users something solid. Now that our staff has had a chance to see what the product can do for us, they’re getting excited about it,” says Goble.

In addition to using Laserfiche for other documents like purchasing records and contracts for the Sheriff’s Office, IT has expanded ECM to the County Assessor’s Office. The department uses Laserfiche to scan and store historical deed cards, 100-year old property assessment jackets and current personal property returns for local businesses. The county’s Human Resources department has also started integrating Laserfiche with its Oracle ERP system to manage personnel records.

Using Laserfiche Workflow and Laserfiche Quick Fields to automate as much of the capture and indexing process as possible went a long way in showing the value of the application to multiple departments. Goble says that setting up a system that requires as little user interaction as possible was key to expanding ECM into an enterprise application.

“I’m more proud of our users than anything else. We’re really happy to see the expansion that we’ve been able to do with Laserfiche,” notes Goble.

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Florida League of Cities Reengineers Insurance Claim Processing and Accounting with Laserfiche Thu, 23 Aug 2012 15:15:16 +0000 katie With the mission of shaping legislation and promoting cooperative action among Florida’s municipal governments, the Florida League of Cities represents over 400 cities, towns and villages throughout the state. The organization, based in Orlando and Tallahassee, serves as the primary provider of critical services for member organizations, including insurance plans, pensions, loans, legal consultation and policy research.

As its membership base grew, the League faced an influx of documents and service needs that its previous document management system, Alchemy, couldn’t handle without instability issues. To build a stable, long-term content management plan for the whole enterprise, which houses 16 departments and 170 employees, the League turned to Laserfiche ECM based on its widespread use among Florida governments.

“We selected Laserfiche because of its reputation as an industry leader,” says Chris Noyes, Business Systems Analyst for the League. “Laserfiche was chosen not only for its reputation and ROI, but for the stability and scalability it would provide our internal operations.”
In fact, purchasing Laserfiche prompted the organization’s IT department and business units to collaborate on new, more efficient ways of structuring business processes.

“For the first time in years, we have directed significant resources into dissecting our existing processes and reengineering them to fit new business conditions using Laserfiche. It has forced us to rethink how we do business—in a positive way,” says Noyes.

Initiating Change in Insurance Units 

The League initiated partnerships between IT and business units during its first Laserfiche deployment in the worker’s compensation claims department, which handles more than 180,000 documents from doctors, providers and the state every year.

The IT department started by mapping out the entire claims process into large-format flowcharts and then hosted inter-department meetings where IT staff and business heads worked together to identify antiquated paper processes, identify business goals and create a strategy for improving the flow of claims information.

Within six months, this collaborative effort resulted in a completely reengineered claims processing cycle. Instead of manually passing multiple copies of documents around the office, claims adjustors and clerical staff now use Laserfiche Workflow, a business process management tool, integrated with a backend SQL database to automatically route claims to the right adjustors in both the Orlando and Tallahassee offices.

“We’ve gained efficiencies by creating a centralized intake department. The printers are silent and there isn’t an army of personnel moving documents between cubicles,” explains Noyes.

The claims department saved 3,400 labor hours in just the first year of using Laserfiche and reduced a process that once took up to 24 hours to complete to just a few hours. With files in a central location, the department’s special investigations team no longer needs to rifle through the contents of CDs and DVDs and can work more proactively during insurance fraud investigations.

The League’s Property and Liability Claims Center, comprised of statewide field members who assess losses from natural disasters, also implemented Laserfiche to automatically push property claims received by phone to claims adjustors in the field through a completely paperless process.

An integration between Laserfiche Web Access, an online version of the Laserfiche digital document repository, and the League’s risk management software automatically links claim files, bills and state forms together in an online portal that’s quickly accessible by field members.

“In the event of a regional disaster, Laserfiche Workflow promptly notifies our response team and coordinates claim information between our offices and field staff,” says Noyes. “We know immediately if a member has incurred a loss and can act upon it quickly, greatly improving customer service.”

The Property and Liability Claims department is now routing more than 55,000 claim documents a year and has reduced printing expenses by 80%, saving more than $9,000 in operational costs.

With these time and cost savings, insurance staff in the Worker’s Compensation and Property Claims Centers can redirect their efforts to adjusting claims instead of performing back-office tasks like printing faxes and alphabetizing checks. Claims staff are collaborating more quickly with other departments, like underwriting, finance and risk control—the League’s ultimate goal.

Laserfiche + Great Plains + iPads = Automated Mobile Accounting 

When other business units realized what interdepartmental document collaboration and Laserfiche’s ease-of-use had achieved for the insurance groups, suddenly everyone wanted to get in on Laserfiche Workflow, says Noyes.

“Laserfiche Workflow is easy to understand even if you don’t have a lot of technical skills. It’s a tool that helps logically show how information can flow efficiently through the organization. You start seeing light bulbs go off in people’s heads,” he explains.

The League’s Finance department requested a more streamlined solution to its check printing and invoice approval process. Clerks were spending 30 hours a week just matching checks with supporting documents generated from multiple applications.

Using Laserfiche’ integrative abilities, the IT department combined Laserfiche Workflow with Great Plains, the department’s ERP system, the League’s Microsoft CRM system and RightFax faxing software to streamline this process. Laserfiche acts as integrative middleware that updates member information between the databases and pushes customer information through the approval process, from the arrival of fax documents to the printing of a check or invoice.

The IT department also connected Laserfiche with the Apple iPad, giving management the ability to review and approve invoices off-site. Staff can simply access their desktop remotely and open Laserfiche to view files. In the future, the IT department plans to migrate the department onto Laserfiche’s iPad app, an app that allows employees to securely create, upload, view and act upon content from wherever they are.

The department has saved over 500 labor hours using this Great Plains and Laserfiche Workflow integration. Instead of relying on staff to pass information back and forth, Laserfiche now automatically routes 800 invoices a month, significantly improving check turn-around time for vendors and customers.

“Laserfiche Workflow handles our manual processes while also adding value, security and accountability to the process,” says Noyes.

Accounting staff has enthusiastically embraced the solution, which Noyes credits to Laserfiche’s integrative capability. Because Laserfiche works with, not against, applications that users are already familiar with, IT was able to create solutions that didn’t burden staff with learning an entirely new system.

“The more you can integrate Laserfiche with your existing applications, the happier and more productive your users will be. Laserfiche allows for so many different methods of hooking into your existing systems, whether they are off-the-shelf or custom-built,” explains Noyes.

Merging IT Requirements with User Acceptance 

In total, over 155 employees across the League use Laserfiche and the organization manages two digital repositories that house over 10 million pages from various departments. With Laserfiche, the League has reclaimed 700 square feet of office space, allowing the organization to add more staff and service more customers as business grows.

“Potential costs savings are everywhere, and the business process analysis combined with the Laserfiche toolset can greatly increase productivity,” says Noyes. “You can translate a single solution that you come up with into an interoperable process across your organization.”

IT approaches every implementation as an opportunity to learn a department’s business needs and to create solutions that employees are comfortable learning and using. The result is a collaborative mindset that empowers staff to discover their own innovative ways of configuring Laserfiche.

For example, Noyes says finance staff brainstormed a new method for indexing and routing their annual renewal packets. Their solution ended up reducing the task from a two-week project into a four-hour activity.

“Through the business process discovery, departments have come together, collaborating like never before. Technology Services is now a partner with the other business units, giving the non-technical folks more ownership of the tools they use every day. We’re not just a service utility anymore.”

Noyes says the League plans to use this collaborative spirit to thoroughly evaluate more business processes and continue to deploy Laserfiche across the enterprise. IT also plans to provide more iPads with the Laserfiche Mobile app to staff to power mobile content management.

“We have just scratched the surface to uncover the potential uses of Laserfiche within our organization,” he concludes.

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Making the Most of an IT Investment Tue, 31 Jul 2012 16:24:38 +0000 Meghann Wooster

For Loudoun County, VA, keeping up with the demands of a rapidly expanding population is a challenge. Part of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, Loudoun County is known for its rich history, diverse business opportunities and excellent public services. Between 2000 and 2010, its population grew by roughly 84%, making it one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S.

Many new residents move to Loudoun County to take advantage of its healthy economy. In fact, residents of Loudoun County enjoy the nation’s highest median household income at well over $100,000 a year. In addition, Loudoun County ranked in the top 3% of all counties nationwide for per capita income.

The rapid growth of the population—coupled with the high expectations of high-income residents—has led to an increasingly high demand for public services. As a result, the county must constantly look for new and innovative ways to support high priority initiatives.

Turning to Technology 

Loudoun County’s IT department is in charge of the efficient implementation of technology to improve county services to its citizens. Comprised of more than 90 IT professionals serving over 3,000 government employees across 32 departments, the IT department determines information system needs and provides equipment, software, maintenance, repair, training and other services for the entire enterprise.

Bill McIntyre, Division Manager of Enterprise IT, leads the team responsible for the software and systems that serve employees across the county, including the internet and intranet, e-mail, Webcasting and customer relationship management (CRM). “We take care of the technology that every user can take advantage of,” McIntyre says. “Our Laserfiche content management system definitely falls into that category.”

However, content management wasn’t always viewed as an enterprise system. Before implementing Laserfiche in 2007, Loudoun County had three departments using different document imaging systems.

Going Enterprise 

When the Controller’s Office started looking for a replacement for its old document imaging system, the IT department realized that implementing a true enterprise content management (ECM) system—one that could be used in all county departments—would cut down on the need for support and enable employees across the county to benefit from the ability to digitize their content and automate their business processes.

“In the past, there were a lot of overlapping systems. From a support, maintenance and cost perspective, we knew that standardizing on one ECM system was our best move,” explains McIntyre. “With only one system to oversee, we could develop the deep expertise that would enable the county to make the most out of its investment in ECM.”

After working with Unity Business Systems, a Laserfiche reseller, to implement Laserfiche in the Controller’s Office as well as Building & Development, Loudoun County’s IT department realized that it needed someone in-house to run point on the Laserfiche project. The department hired Gopal Kanneganti, Senior Imaging Systems Analyst, to join McIntyre’s enterprise team.

“It was important to us to ensure that we had someone on our team who would be responsible for Laserfiche. If you tried to add that task to people’s existing responsibilities, it could be easily pushed to the side,” McIntyre says.

 Managing Change

McIntyre and Kanneganti then set out to educate their colleagues across different departments about the value of Laserfiche ECM. Although McIntyre claims that he and his team “are just a bunch of geeks and nerds who don’t know anything about marketing,” they took a picture-perfect approach to promoting the value of the new system across Loudoun County.

He explains, “We started by attending leadership meetings and presenting the capabilities of Laserfiche to department leaders. In particular, we targeted departments that were very paper-based and that would see the benefits of digitizing the paper right away.”

Two departments that sprang immediately to mind included Environmental Health and Family Services, both of which had records rooms that were so full of paper the floors were buckling.

“The need for ECM was there,” says McIntyre. “After we attended their staff meetings and they heard about what Laserfiche could do, they knew that this system would give them a way out of their predicament.”

The Enterprise Team’s strategy was to get Laserfiche into these departments quickly, so they’d see immediate value. This approach paid off, and today McIntyre says the team no longer needs to “sell Laserfiche internally. Everyone wants it.”

In fact, Loudoun County is looking to bring on a second Laserfiche administrator to assist Kanneganti and accelerate deployment across the enterprise. “When we looked at a reasonable pace for one person to roll out Laserfiche to the rest of the county, we realized that it would take 24 years!” McIntyre says. “We’re getting funding for the second position starting in fiscal 2013, and the new systems analyst will be coming on board in July.”

McIntyre notes that the IT department will be busy rolling out three new systems over the next year:

  • Enterprise-wide: An Oracle ERP system.
  • Assessor’s Office: iasWorld appraisal software from Tyler Technologies.
  • Tax: A new tax software system from PCI Systems.

“When we were searching for these new systems, we made it a mandatory requirement that they would all be able to integrate with Laserfiche,” says McIntyre. “Laserfiche is our enterprise solution for content management. We’re not going to move forward with any system that is incompatible with it.”

To date, Loudoun County has implemented Laserfiche in ten departments, including:

  • Assessor’s Office
  • Building & Development
  • Management & Financial Services (Controller’s Office)
  • Environmental Health
  • Family Services

“There are 30 departments across Loudoun County, so we’re just getting started,” McIntyre says.

For an in-depth look at how the departments listed above use Laserfiche, please download the enterprise case study at

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Laserfiche ECM Advances AIDS Research in Africa Tue, 31 Jul 2012 15:36:42 +0000 admin When you’re working to halt a health crisis, trusting your data is vital. Senior Database Scientist Colin Newell works in a desperate region of South Africa where one-fifth of the general population and more than half the young adults are infected. As such, he is leveraging Laserfiche to build a new database that could help stem the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“HIV is a global problem and we are just one research center in a worldwide effort to learn more about the disease,” says Newell. “But HIV infections rates here are higher than anywhere else. It’s possible that what we learn here about the transmission of the disease here may help slow the spread of the disease elsewhere in the world.”

Over a decade of detailed field research, Newell and his colleagues at the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies in KwaZulu-Natal have painted what may be the pandemic’s most deeply detailed portrait.

According to, as of 2010, there were 22.9 million people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa, increasing from an estimated 22.5 million people, including 2.3 million children, a year earlier. The organization reports that the increase in people living with HIV could be partly due to a decrease in AIDS-related deaths in the region. There were 1.2 million deaths due to AIDS in 2010 compared to 1.3 million in 2009. Almost 90 percent of the 16.6 million children orphaned by AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa, according to Avert.

During the time the Centre staff has been working in Africa, they have painstakingly transcribed millions of pages of field surveys into a computer file—with the hard copies then stored in a warehouse a few hours’ drive, or a day’s walk, from the office.

Whenever data errors or discrepancies arose in the computer file, staff members were dispatched to the warehouse to rifle through filing cabinets in search of the originals. “When you’re gathering data in communities where running water is a luxury, unemployment is 75% and 40% of households cook with wood, errors are a daily fact of life,” says Newell.

“You have to understand that in South Africa we’re in a time-rich, cash-poor society, and very often it’s much more economical to employ more people rather than employ a high tech solution,” he explains. “We’re about 10 kilometers away from the next Internet user. If anything goes wrong, spare parts and tech guides coming to fix things is a very difficult job, so for many things we tend to go toward the low-tech solution, at the expense of making more mistakes.”

That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for any technology at the Centre. It just means that any technologies embraced must be effective, easy to use and, above all, reliable.

Since 2000 the Centre has been conducting deeply detailed demographic surveillance of 90,000 people in 12,000 South African homesteads, visiting each one twice annually to gather information. Every round of visits produces about 600,000 pages.

Until recently, the Centre’s technology was limited to the one computer file used to catalogue an endless stream of documents coming in from field researchers. But imagine what happens, an all too real possibility, when the computer malfunctions. The Centre IT’s staff came up with a solution: using Laserfiche to store an unlimited number of digitized documents and retrieve any one instantly through a barcode connected to its 13-digit survey subject identification.

Eighteen months later, half of the 15 million survey forms have been scanned into images stored in a new database connected via the barcode information to the old database.

“Now we can easily go back and resolve discrepancies instantly,” explains Newell. “We can see where transcriptionists might have misread a date scribbled by field workers and that clarification can lead to other vital pieces of information falling into place.”

Africa Centre may even be setting a trend not just for this beleaguered part of the world but for its many peer organizations, says Christian Kyony, head of IT at the Centre. According to Kyony, there are 45 similar outposts across the world, generating 10 to 20 million pages of field surveys annually.

“Those organizations all have the same challenge,” says Kyony. “How to keep information archived in the source document and how to easily access the information in the source document. Our office is the first office to employ this technology.”

Kyony estimates that using Laserfiche has allowed Africa Centre to reduce overall operational expenses by 10 percent. But those savings could be dramatically higher for organizations in other, more advanced areas of the world, says Sheldon Halgreen of Nashua, SA, which sold and installed Laserfiche at Africa Centre.

Halgreen is talking to medical researchers elsewhere in Africa about using electronic forms on computer tablets to monitor patient health in field research. Such forms allow all the data gathered in the field to be stored as text along with the images, enhancing the value of the forms for medical research while greatly reducing the transcription costs of manually inputting all the information. Moreover, where wireless internet access exists, the information from field research can be downloaded automatically, allowing researchers and doctors to get new information in real time.

“Africa Centre is seeing great results from the software,” Halgreen says. “This software can improve the quality of health care on a global scale, while saving healthcare organizations a great deal of money.”

Newell understands well the potential advantages to applying such technology to the patients in the communities the Centre surveys. However many other things must change in KwaZulu Natal before he can take full advantage of the technology.

“The end goal is not just research but also tracking the success of ATR therapies now being administered to thousands of people in all sorts of living conditions,” Newell explains. “Armed with that information, we can better contain the spread of this disease under all conditions. As a center, we’re quite proud of what we do and we’ve managed to keep quite a number of people alive who otherwise might have been dead.”

In the meantime, he’s cleaning up 12 years of research at a pace he never imagined possible just two years ago.

“It’s a big advantage just having clean data,” he says.

*An edited version of this story appeared on TMCnet’s HealthTechZone.

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Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Improves Student Loan Processing with ECM Tue, 24 Jul 2012 17:18:25 +0000 katie The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), based in Austin, helps develop the state’s higher education plans, approves degree programs and provides advice on education activities to the State Legislature and Governor’s Office.

Central to achieving THECB’s mission of promoting access to quality higher education is its Loan Program Operations (LPO), which disburses state financial aid funds to Texas universities and assists with student loan collections and litigation for the State Attorney General’s Office. As the gatekeeper for state-appropriated financial aid, LPO handles more than 1.5 million documents each year—a number that’s grown steadily as cuts to state scholarship funds have driven more loan applications to the department’s College Access Loan and B-On-Time incentive programs. In 2011 alone, the agency disbursed over $143 million worth of funds to students.

“For cases that go on to become loans, it’s a very paper-intensive process,” explains Debbie Whitis, Manager of LPO Operational Support Services. “Every single piece of information related to a student loan, from electronic applications, paper sources and screenshots, must be documented and archived according to state retention guidelines.”

Although LPO had a document management system in place, the legacy system couldn’t handle the high-volume processing needed to handle the growing volume of loan applications. As a result, it needed rebooting at least eight times a day.

On average, the agency was losing 19 cumulative hours of staff time across its departments every day—wasted effort that cost the LPO $76,000 each year and generated customer dissatisfaction.

“If a debtor called to inquire about their loan status and the system was down, we couldn’t give them a real-time answer,” explains Whitis. “Staff still had to manually fill in field classifications, and our process wasn’t very transparent.”

Stretching the IT Investment 

LPO began searching for a new enterprise content management (ECM) system that would cut out inefficiencies and save staff time. When reseller MCCi showed the organization Laserfiche Avante’s flexible, customizable administration and workflow tools, the agency was convinced that Laserfiche could easily reduce its bottlenecks, track documents throughout the loan record lifecycle and make information readily accessible to many different users at once.

Whitis was impressed that so many of Laserfiche’s key functionalities aligned with LPO’s checklist of requirements, including Laserfiche’s ability to:

  • Monitor activities occurring within the department in real-time.
  • Support a complicated routing structure for LPO and provide transparency at each step of the loan process lifecycle.
  • Generate performance quotas and productivity statistics.
  • Offer snapshot printing, scanning and conversion of diverse content formats.

Even with this wide range of features, Laserfiche still offered an affordable price point. “Laserfiche was the most cost-effective solution and best value we found,” says Whitis. “When you’re paying with tax dollars, value is important.”

Furthermore, Laserfiche’s ease-of-use ensured a smooth implementation when turnover in LPO’s IT department reduced the project’s technical support. Using Laserfiche’s free user education materials along with her knowledge of ECM system implementation, Whitis was able to teach herself the ins and outs of the entire Laserfiche system.

“I was able to learn the system simply by using the white papers, customer presentations and everything else that is available on the Laserfiche Support Site,” explains Whitis. “The information really is readable and digestible for Laserfiche users.”

Eliminating Redundancies and Building Transparency 

Armed with these education materials, Whitis started the implementation by sketching her ideas for improving the loan process out on paper. She then brought those ideas to life using the Laserfiche Workflow 8.3 Designer, a business process configuration tool, to build complex, automated document routing and archiving procedures and data queries to third-party systems.

In total, Whitis created 29 different workflows that process and route the diverse types of content the department receives, streamlining many steps in daily activities, especially for the agency’s Operational Support Services (OSS) department.

Some of the benefits realized include:

  • Enhance information capture. Using Laserfiche Snapshot, a multi-functional document capture tool, the department can capture and record all loan documents like IVR (interactive voice response) payments, call sheets and loan changes directly from third-party systems, such as the agency’s Loan Management System, in a central repository.
  • Streamlined payment processing. For captured documents like checks, Laserfiche Workflow 8.3 uses information on the check to query client data like social security numbers from the agency’s other databases and links that information to the check. Workflow then routes the document among the necessary departments at each step of payment review and processing.
  • Transparent records management. To archive a document according to litigation requirements, Workflow extracts information such as the borrower’s last name from the document, and automatically creates the proper retention folders for the document.
  • Centralized control. In the Laserfiche Workflow Administration Console, an advanced performance and reporting interface, Whitis can now monitor all system activity in real-time and research bottlenecks affecting the productivity of the team.
View screenshots and technical details of the organization’s workflows on the Laserfiche Solution Exchange  

By automating and centralizing information access with Laserfiche, the agency can now process documents within a matter of milliseconds versus hours. Laserfiche Snapshot alone has helped the OSS department reduce its document processing times by up to 24 hours and eliminate 66% of its staffing expenses, a total of $15,000 in savings.

With Laserfiche Workflow, LPO can ultimately ensure that every step of the loan record cycle is transparent and that documents are saved in a searchable format, even as multiple users interact with the document.

“Changes to the document remain consistent no matter where the document goes,” says Whitis. “I love the fact that I can go into the Workflow Designer and find exactly where a document is. We can resolve an issue in a matter of minutes or within a couple of hours. Before, it was just a shot in the dark.”

Gaining Enterprise-Wide Buy-In 

LPO managers and directors also love Laserfiche’s time-saving reporting tools. Prior to Laserfiche, managers could spend two full days compiling statistics about their teams’ productivity and quotas for the Assistant Commissioner of Business and Support Services. Using Laserfiche Audit Trail, an enterprise risk management tool that tracks user activity, managers can now generate performance reports on their staff with the click of a button.

To bring managers and staff up to speed on Laserfiche, Whitis committed to several onsite demos and trainings on searching, reporting and data capture.

“People here had been married to our old system for the duration of their careers,” notes Whitis. “But when they saw Laserfiche’s capabilities compared to our old system, they were impressed. They really took ownership of the software in their daily processes when we gave them a voice in how it works.”

This ownership translated into greatly increased staff productivity, especially during peak processing seasons. Even though the number of loan applications has increased by 12% since LPO started using Laserfiche, the agency has decreased its error rate to a mere two percent with the system. In just the first year of using Laserfiche, LPO estimates that it has reduced about 30% of its overall operating expenses.

In the future, the department plans to expand its Laserfiche system to handle the litigation documents it files with the state court. Using Laserfiche Quick Fields, a high-volume indexing tool, LPO will automate the costly, time-consuming manual indexing of legal files.

Whitis says that what makes Laserfiche so attractive to state agencies—and other organizations—is its flexible architecture. From document capture to automated workflows to reporting, Whitis praises how easily Laserfiche has accommodated LPO’s evolving business needs.


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Family Office Drives Efficiency Using ECM Mon, 25 Jun 2012 23:17:50 +0000 Hobey Echlin Since 1928, Piedmont Trust Company, a family office and private trust company based in Greensboro, NC, has been responsible for asset allocation, investment monitoring, estate planning, tax preparation, bill payment and education management for all the members of a single family. Over the last 80 years, what began as a two-person office serving a single household has grown to a staff of 25 servicing 650 accounts.

“There are a lot of unique financial things that you do in a family office that you may not do in a typical bank, trust company or credit union. We handle all their accounting and tax work, for instance. We’re essentially a one-stop shop,” explains Ed Wright, Managing Director of IT and Middle Operations.

“One thing is you never seem to get rid of any information—and that works great until you have nothing in your office but a ton of file cabinets.”

By 2008, the firm began looking into enterprise content management (ECM) systems to get rid of file cabinets by digitizing information, and also to automate how that information moves and is used in everyday business processes such as transaction approvals.

“We looked at some solutions that were great at loading a TIFF and filing it away so that, 10 years from now, if you needed to go look for it, you searched and found it and there you were,” Wright says. “But we were looking for something more—we wanted to automate workflows and document filing and things like that.”

The firm discovered Laserfiche through a user group for another one of its software providers, Advent Software. There, Wright met Kevin Smith from One Source Document Solutions, a Laserfiche reseller also based in Greensboro. “We were impressed with the fact that Laserfiche was such a well-known name in the industry and with how many people were using it,” recalls Wright. “One of the things that attracted us to Laserfiche was that each company tends to use it in a different way. I felt that Laserfiche was able to bring me a lot of things with workflows, intelligent capture, great search capabilities and other things that I just couldn’t get from other vendors.”

Together with One Source, Wright mapped out a plan to integrate Laserfiche with Piedmont’s Microsoft Dynamics CRM system to better serve clients. They also determined how Laserfiche Workflow could automate transaction approval processes using notification e-mails, as well as serve as an integral component of a composite application for client reporting using Advent Portfolio Exchange and Fi-Tek’s Trust Portal trust accounting system.

Says Wright, “Laserfiche gave us the most flexibility to store data, it gave us great search capabilities, and we were able to integrate it with our other solutions.”

Taking a Hub Approach 

Migration from various shared-drive folders into the Laserfiche repository took six months. In essence, Piedmont created a centralized “hub” to service information to staff and departments. Says Wright, “We took this hub approach, where we our staff are constantly going in and retrieving Excel files or Word documents and depositing them into Laserfiche using the add-on features that work with Microsoft Office.”

Key to this hub approach, Wright explains, is giving Relationship Managers access to all client documents directly within the CRM by integrating Microsoft Dynamics with Laserfiche. Relationship Managers can now click on Account Documents in the Account tab of the CRM to view all of the documents associated with that particular account directly in Laserfiche Web Access. (Read more about how Piedmont Trust Company refined customer service on the Solution Exchange.)

Turning Hours to Minutes: Using Workflow to Automate OFAC Approval 

As part of the hub approach, Laserfiche Workflow is used to automate the transaction approval process. “Many of the trusts we deal with have large numbers of transactions, disbursements, receipts and transfers associated with them. Each of these transactions has to go through a multi-step approval process called OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control). This process basically involves checking that the people involved in the transaction aren’t on a list of suspected terrorists,” Wright says. “In the past, we would have to manually run through a ton of these transactions in a day, which was very painful for us being such a small office.”

Today, the automated OFAC process is much simpler:

  • Staff scans transaction documentation into Laserfiche.
  • Laserfiche Workflow automatically generates e-mails with links that instruct people to fill out the Laserfiche fields to approve the relevant transactions.
  • Meanwhile, Middle Office Operations managers get e-mails regarding exactly where in the approval process each transaction is.
  • Once Middle Office Operations gets the e-mail that the transaction has been approved by everyone, they can go into the Trust Portal and release it.

“So what in effect happens is you take a process that could take three hours to complete for three signatures and turn it around in a matter of minutes,” Wright says.

In order to give clients online access to their important documents, Piedmont created a custom Website and integrated it with Laserfiche using the Laserfiche SDK. Once logged in, clients are able to both download and upload documents through this portal using a secure log-in. (Learn more about Piedmont Trust Company’s custom Website on the Solution Exchange.)

In addition, the portal is used as part of a composite application to enable client reporting from the firm’s Advent Portfolio Exchange system and its Fi-Tek’s Trust Portal trust accounting system, which is not only more convenient, but saves paper costs and printing headaches as well. (To learn more about this and other composite applications leveraging existing infrastructure and Laserfiche, read the white paper.)

Easier Audits

Last year, the firm went through its first paperless audit with the North Carolina Banking Commission. “We decided we were going to leverage the electronic technology that we had in Laserfiche and in our CRM system. Basically, when they gave us a list of the accounts they wanted to review, we moved them into a secured folder in Laserfiche that the auditors could access with an audit login and password. They were only able to access that one folder. The response we got was very positive,” Wright explains. “We felt it was a very successful trial and we intend to continue with this paperless approach moving forward.”

Wright says the ongoing value of using Laserfiche has been more time and space. “The time savings have given us the capacity to take on additional work. We’ve also cleared out so many file cabinets that we’re actually getting ready to reclaim the storage space in the form of new offices, and we’re all excited about that.”

Watch an interview with Ed Wright, Managing Director of IT!

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Carroll County, MD, Achieves Enterprise ECM Success Tue, 19 Jun 2012 16:19:42 +0000 Meghann Wooster

“I came on board at Carroll County nearly 25 years ago,” says Mark Ripper, CIO, “right when the county was getting its first IBM PCs with 10 MB hard drives.”

Since then, the county’s IT infrastructure has come a long way, and Ripper is particularly excited about the new fiber network the county is building to deliver high speed data and bandwidth to Carroll County businesses and residents.

“One of our primary goals in building the fiber network is to help the county build its economic base by attracting more business and industry to the area,” explains Ripper, noting that the network will connect seven primary business parks and 16 secondary business parks in addition to 102 local, state, federal and public safety sites.

“Another motivator is to establish a direct connection with our outside agencies and allow everyone to take advantage of enterprise IT systems such as Laserfiche,” he says. “Essentially, we’re creating our own private cloud.”

How Laserfiche Evolved into Enterprise IT

Ripper notes that Laserfiche wasn’t always viewed as an enterprise IT system. In fact, it was first purchased as a departmental application for HR back in 2001. However, flooding in the nearby City of Annapolis highlighted the need for the county to formulate a better plan around disaster recovery—and enterprise content management (ECM) took a central role.

“All of our documents were stored onsite, which made them vulnerable to catastrophic events,” Ripper explains. “We also wanted to free up our document storage space so that it could be put to better use. Those two things were the primary drivers for ECM within Carroll County.”

Ripper notes that although the HR department had a track record of success with Laserfiche, the IT department did its due diligence before selecting Laserfiche for its enterprise roll out. “We looked for ECM contracts already in place in Maryland to see which systems might meet our needs. Then we had vendors come in and set up their software so that end users from different departments could demo it to see what would be easiest to use,” he says.

From both a change management and a project management point of view, Ripper says, “It’s always important to involve the everyday users at every stage of the project.”

The CIO notes that he was particularly impressed by Laserfiche reseller Unity ECM. “It was clear that the Unity team was knowledgeable and understood the needs of our county. In fact, of all the vendors we work with, Unity ECM is easily in the top five.”

Ripper’s team selected Laserfiche in 2008 and has since deployed it across six areas of the organization, including:

  • Commissioners Office.
  • State’s Attorney’s Office.
  • Bureau of Development Review.
  • Technology Services.
  • Human Resources.
  • Management Analysis.

Next on the list are the Bureau of Aging and the Bureau of Permits & Inspections.

“Our goal is to get all 14 of our county departments onto Laserfiche, along with the Sherriff’s Office and Circuit Courts,” says Ripper. “The great thing about Laserfiche is that it’s so easy to maintain that, once it’s in place, there’s very little for us to do.”

He notes that since the county upgraded to Laserfiche Rio in November 2010, it now has individual repositories for each department. “Separate repositories are great from a management point of view because all of our departments are so diverse in what they do and how they store their data. Laserfiche Rio gives us the flexibility to meet the needs of different areas of our organization with one centralized system,” says Ripper. “The ability to create a test environment without additional costs was a big factor in our decision to upgrade to Laserfiche Rio, as well.”

Departmental Details 

Carroll County’s IT department is comprised of 30 IT professionals, five of whom are client service analysts. Those five are assigned to a handful of departments/agencies, acting as project managers and application specialists. According to Ripper, this model works well for Carroll County because of the strong relationships that are established between the analysts and the agencies they serve.

The CIO notes that each department that’s implemented Laserfiche now finds it much easier to find and retrieve content. He also explains that “Laserfiche has given us a good reason to clean up our files and scan only what we really need. We follow the ‘garbage in, garbage out’ principle.”

Departmental benefits include:

  • Commissioners Office: Real-time access to documents and reduced filing. “In the past, administrative staff had to make hundreds of copies of the same items, but now all relevant parties gain automatic access to documents directly through Laserfiche, saving both time and paper,” Ripper says.
  • Bureau of Development Review: Automatic document indexing using Laserfiche Quick Fields, a high-volume data processing tool, minimizes manual data entry. “As the agency responsible for processing and tracking development plans from submittal through approval, Development Review relies on Quick Fields to maximize its efficiency.”
  • State’s Attorney: Integration with case file management system so that all 40 staff can gain immediate access to supporting documents. “The great thing about this integration—besides the fact that people no longer have to run back and forth from the courthouse to the office to retrieve documents— is that staff members do not have to learn to use Laserfiche. They simply look up a case in the CFMS and the associated paperwork is available from the interface they already know and use every day.”

Although the county has yet to take full advantage of Laserfiche Workflow, Ripper notes that business process improvement is high on his list of priorities moving forward. “So far, we’ve been able to achieve all of our initial goals for the Laserfiche system: we’ve gained peace of mind from a disaster recovery perspective, made it easier for everyone to quickly locate the documents they need and reduced the need for onsite file storage. We’re looking forward to implementing Laserfiche throughout the rest of our agencies and exploring how we can use Workflow to increase our efficiency.”

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Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Reduces Weekly Unbilled Accounts by $1.5 Million Tue, 19 Jun 2012 16:01:00 +0000 katie For Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center, a small community hospital that serves a population of 19,500 in Emporia, VA, keeping patient records secure yet accessible once required a balancing act of limited staff time, large paper volumes and never-ending information requests.

The medical center’s health information management (HIM) department maintains all of the medical records produced by the hospital. A group of seven employees led by HIM Director Margaret Bass works to service requests for records from the organization’s business office, quality control department and emergency room. In all, Bass estimates that her group handles about 350,000 pages a year.

“We’re the guardian of records,” explains Bass. “However, the manual processes of retrieving records, pulling the relevant information and copying and distributing the information delayed our response time to information requests.”

These inefficiencies led to major backlogs in the center’s medical billing cycle and impeded the hospital’s ability to meet weekly benchmarks set by its parent company, Community Health Systems (CHS). CHS operates 130 small hospitals around the nation and monitors the outstanding accounts each hospital accrues.

It also enforces a three-day allowance for sending bills to patients from a hospital’s accounts receivable department. If unbilled accounts remain after three days, the hospital enters what Bass calls the “red zone” for AR billing. Due to the HIM department’s inability to quickly access paper patient records, transferring documents to the hospital’s AR department used to take weeks. The hospital frequently reported up to $3 million in unbilled amounts per week to CHS and often reached the unfavorable red zone.

“We Were Sold on the Solution Immediately” 

Before implementing Laserfiche, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center was also paying a third-party company to host its emergency room (ER) records on an outside server. Several days after records were sent to the company for scanning, staff could access and print records from the company’s secure Web portal—at the cost of $1,000 a month.

As Bass sent the company more and more records to be scanned and hosted, she was inundated with growing retrieval and storage bills. The result was a cumbersome, costly process that consumed staff time and restricted the hospital’s bottom line.

When EMI Imaging, a Laserfiche reseller, approached the medical center about replacing its hosted storage server with an in-house Laserfiche Avante enterprise content management (ECM) system, Bass and the hospital’s CFO didn’t need much convincing. “When EMI showed us that you can just scan in the record and it appears immediately to read and manage, we were blown away,” says Bass. “The CFO turned to me on the spot and told me we should do it. We were sold on the solution immediately.”

Bass said the ease-of-use of the Laserfiche product suite convinced her that the system could dramatically reduce the time that her staff spends retrieving and printing records. Plus, at a price tag that eliminated 75% of the department’s scanning and storage costs, Laserfiche offered clear financial appeal on top of its functionality.

Kim Spencer and Adam Wright from EMI helped the organization set up security rights to patient records that ensured document control would stay within the HIM department and business unit, while providing read-only records access to the quality control department. For ER records, Laserfiche provides a streamlined process that reduces bottlenecks and makes the records instantly available to Bass and her colleagues:

  • Every weekday morning, staff retrieves paper records from the ER and scans them into the Laserfiche repository.
  • Laserfiche Quick Fields, a high-volume capture and processing tool, automatically recognizes the patient account number on a certain record, uses that number to pull other identifying patient information (like date of service and date of birth) from the Master Patient Index and applies the extracted information to the incoming document’s digital record.
  • Laserfiche Workflow, a business process management tool, then routes copies of the digital records to the HIM department and the business unit.
  • From the Laserfiche repository, HIM staff can instantly retrieve a record with the click of a button.
  • Using redaction tools available in Laserfiche Avante, the department is able to block out confidential patient information when sending records for insurance and billing requests.

By switching to Laserfiche, the HIM department has cut the time that staff spends retrieving and relaying records by about 90%. In fact, the HIM department gained so much extra time with Laserfiche that Bass is actually lending her staff to other area hospitals to help them manage their paper coding processes.

Centralizing Security and Compliance

As HIM Director, Bass wears many hats, juggling security and HIPAA compliance in addition to the constant information requests. From an administrative perspective, having one technology system that can provide straightforward security features also cuts down on the time she spends monitoring the security of patient information during those requests. “On a daily basis, I’m the compliance officer, the privacy officer and the health information management director,” she emphasizes. “Having one tool that can handle all three functions is a major plus for me.”

Using Laserfiche Audit Trail, an enterprise risk management tool that tracks user activity, the department can configure strict parameters for document sharing that align with HIPAA compliance standards and can monitor which employees in the medical center have accessed particular records.

Bass says the system amazed her when it automatically detected and prevented a HIPAA violation. When the hospital’s risk manager attempted to forward an ER report from the Laserfiche repository to a department head, Laserfiche blocked the attachment because it would have broken compliance regulations outlined in the established Laserfiche access rights. “We’re the only department that has the rights to send documents to outside individuals, and Laserfiche caught the error. I called EMI and told them that the system was smarter than me!”

Spencer adds, “The system is helping to prevent the hospital from incurring possible lawsuits relating to patient confidentiality. That’s a huge benefit for a small hospital.”

Setting a Document Management Standard for Community Hospitals 

HIM’s improved efficiency translated into benefits for other areas of the hospital, too. No department has profited more from HIM’s improved efficiency than Accounts Receivable: When documents are scanned into the Laserfiche repository, the AR department can now retrieve the records immediately, reducing the medical center’s weekly unbilled amounts by $1.5 million.

“CHS wants us to work smarter, not harder, and it was clear to us that Laserfiche could help us reach the goals that CHS sets for our operations,” says Bass, noting, “We haven’t been in the red zone for our AR activities in over a year!”

This reduction of unbilled accounts has helped Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center pave the way for other regional medical groups to improve their operations, too. When Bass told a colleague at Springs Memorial Hospital the amount of unbilled payments that the AR department had eliminated with Laserfiche, Springs Memorial immediately purchased its own Laserfiche system.

Bass emphasizes that her organization’s success can be attributed to cultivating a relationship with the right ECM reseller. “I’ve gotten so much help from Kim and EMI Imaging,” she says. “Whenever I have a question, they are very helpful in figuring out what’s going on.”

The medical center plans to rely on EMI’s expertise as it expands Laserfiche to other departments. Registration staff will use Laserfiche to scan patient consent forms, which the department regularly provides to both internal and external units. As the hospital prepares to phase into a new electronic medical records system, it looks to integrate Laserfiche with the system to attach the consent forms to patient records already scanned into the Laserfiche system. Bass hopes that the medical center’s case management and human resources groups will also begin taking advantage of Laserfiche.

“We’ve just been so thrilled with what we’ve been able to accomplish. I can’t wait to help other departments benefit from Laserfiche,” says Bass.

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Computerized Management Services Incorporates ECM into Its IT Infrastructure Tue, 08 May 2012 15:34:09 +0000 Meghann Wooster For Computerized Management Services, a medical management company that focuses on meeting the needs of radiologists, technology paves the path to a profitable future.
“Because we’ve never lost a customer and have extremely low employee turnover as well as strong long-term relationships with all of our key suppliers, we have the means to invest in the technology necessary to build a world-class infrastructure to meet the future needs of our clients,” says President Tom Brajkovich.

This forward-thinking approach led the company to implement Laserfiche enterprise content management back in 2006. “There’s a lot of miscellaneous paper associated with medical billing, a lot of non-standardized communications coming from patients, payers and providers,” Brajkovich explains. “We knew that digitizing the paper and automating associated processes would make us more efficient.”

Prior to implementing Laserfiche, Computerized Management Services housed its paper archives in bankers boxes at offsite storage lockers, making it difficult for staff to find older documents. Files that had yet to be reviewed for coding and billing purposes were kept in filing cabinets, creating bottlenecks when documents were misplaced and limiting the management team’s visibility into the company’s overall workflow.

To facilitate access and improve productivity, the company now uses Laserfiche to process, manage and store four main document types:

  • Reports and face sheets from providers.
  • Explanation of benefits forms (both paper and electronic) from payers.
  • Credentialing documents from providers.
  • Internal training documents.

“We’re constantly scanning, uploading and processing information,” Brajkovich says.

Documents are processed and stored using Laserfiche Quick Fields 8, a high-volume capture and processing tool, and Laserfiche Workflow 8, a business process management tool. These tools eliminate the need for manual data entry and filing by:

  • Automatically extracting metadata from documents.
  • Auto-populating index fields.
  • Creating new folders.
  • Auto-filing documents.

For a company that receives thousands of documents a day from more than 100 locations in California and Arizona, this automation results in a big productivity boost. It also makes it easy for employees to retrieve documents by conducting simple field and text searches.

Processing EOBs with Laserfiche 

Further enhancing productivity, Computerized Management Services uses Laserfiche to manage the explanation of benefits (EOB) forms that most insurers still send in paper format.

“We use Quick Fields to convert paper EOBs into usable data, and Workflow to facilitate EOB processing,” explains Denise Van, Vice President of Operations.

Via document shortcuts, the company uses Workflow to route EOBs to the appropriate client teams for processing. Client team personnel work with dual screens, so they’re able to view a document on one screen while performing data entry into the company’s CPU billing software on the other.

Although CPU and Laserfiche aren’t yet integrated, the Laserfiche Entry ID for each document is logged in each patient’s record in CPU so that it is easily retrievable. After the EOBs have been processed, Workflow removes the EOB shortcuts from the client team folders. Workflow then archives the EOBs by date of service.

Workflow Automation Accelerates Coding 

Computerized Management Services also uses Laserfiche in conjunction with A-Life, its computer-assisted coding system.

When the company receives new information from a client site, it imports it into Laserfiche using either Laserfiche Import Agent, which captures electronic faxes, or Laserfiche Snapshot, which converts electronic documents into TIFF images. Documents are then processed by Quick Fields and exported to A-Life. Once documents have been coded in A-Life, Workflow archives the documents.

The biggest benefits of Laserfiche, however, are felt when the company can’t use A-Life. “If a facility changes the format of its reports or face sheets, it takes time to reprogram A-Life,” says Brajkovich. “When that happens, Laserfiche takes over.”

According to Van, employees need a mere 24 hours to complete the coding process in A-Life. When done on paper, the process takes 5-10 days. When used as the company’s “coding back up,” Laserfiche enables staff to complete the coding process in 48-72 hours.

“Laserfiche helps us solve problems,” says Van. “If we had to code on paper every time a facility changed its format, we’d lose a lot of time.”

The coding process in Laserfiche works as follows:

  • Documents are imported into Laserfiche using Import Agent or Snapshot.
  • Documents are processed by Quick Fields, metadata is applied and Workflow moves document shortcuts to the Coder folder for processing.
  • The coding manager assigns work and Workflow moves the folder to the assigned coder.
  • The assigned coder codes the document using the preview pane in Laserfiche, adding coding metadata to the Laserfiche template.
  • Workflow then moves the document to the billing team, which exports it to CPU for processing.
  • Once the completion criteria have been met, Workflow archives the documents.

“Workflow is a wonderful tool,” says Van. “We rely heavily on it.”

The Key to Going Digital 

Brajkovich and Van stress that Computerized Management Services’ success with Laserfiche is the result of a phased approach to implementation and training. They first worked with Laserfiche reseller JPI Data Resource to configure the system to their specifications, and then they trained their staff.

“We didn’t roll out everything at once,” says Brajkovich. “Implementing the capabilities of Laserfiche slowly allowed us to make sure that adjusting to the new system didn’t slow us down.”

Initially, staff learned how to use Laserfiche to search and retrieve digital documents. Once the company rolled out Workflow, Brajkovich and Van took a train-the-trainer approach, working with key staff from the data processing and client teams to ensure that they were comfortable with the system and able to show their team members how to perform their various tasks.

Today, as always, the company is in the process of improving its workflows. “Continuous improvement is important to us,” says Brajkovich. “In order to ensure that we offer truly exceptional service to clients in the heavily nuanced field of radiology, we constantly look for ways to fine tune our processes and our use of technology.”

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Multi-jurisdictional 911 Center Uses ECM to Enhance Information Sharing Fri, 04 May 2012 15:17:27 +0000 admin Located in Cass County, ND, the Red River Regional Dispatch Center (RRRDC) was the first 911 center in the country to consolidate services across state lines (North Dakota/Minnesota). While there are many multi-jurisdictional dispatch centers throughout the US, only RRRDC works with all of the fire, police and emergency response units in two counties in two different states.

Serving the metropolitan community of Fargo-Moorhead, RRRDC handles more than 121,000 emergency calls a year, dispatching responders from:

  • Two sheriff’s departments.
  • Seven police departments.
  • Three city fire departments.
  • 28 rural fire departments.
  • 15 rural emergency medical service providers.
  • One ambulance service.

According to Renee Lura, Professional IT Services Manager for the City of Fargo and an IT liaison/lead for RRRDC, “In the realm of public safety, sharing resources across agencies allows everyone involved to get more bang for their buck. Multi-jurisdictional agencies allow participants to pool their funding so that they can invest in more sophisticated technology and provide better, faster service to their communities.”

Integration with CAD/RMS/CMS Is Key 

Lura notes that in 2009, during the transition from RRRDC’s legacy AS400 CAD/RMS system to the CAD/RMS/CMS from New World Systems, the team looked for an enterprise content management (ECM) system that could integrate with New World to make it easy for staff to access and share reports, photos, warrants and a variety of other scanned or electronic documents.

“Three of the agencies in our consortium were already using Laserfiche independently,” Lura explains, “so the opportunity to benefit from all that internal expertise was a major factor in our purchase decision.” Working with Laserfiche reseller Cities Digital, she notes, was another. “The City of Moorhead and Cass County had worked with Cities Digital for years, and everyone was comfortable with them from the start.”

Ultimately, though, it was Cities Digital’s ability to build a seamless integration with New World that sold RRRDC on Laserfiche. “By integrating Laserfiche with New World, we can share documents across departments and jurisdictions. Anyone with security rights to a certain document can open it by clicking a button in the New World record. It’s easy and intuitive.”

The Laserfiche/New World integration works as follows:

  • When users look under the Documents tab in New World, they find a Laserfiche button that indicates whether or not there is a corresponding Laserfiche folder.
  • By clicking on the button, the Laserfiche client launches to the appropriate folder location and users are taken directly to the file associated with the record.
  • Documents can also be scanned or uploaded into Laserfiche directly from the New World interface.

“Officers, detectives, dispatch and other authorized users all access pertinent information from one integrated interface,” says Lura.

ECM Enhances Security, Mobility and Compliance 

Furthermore, because RRRDC uses Laserfiche Records Management Edition, a DoD 5015.2-certified solution that simplifies compliance with records management mandates, new records entering the system are automatically classified and filed into the proper records series.

“We use Laserfiche to manage everything from Wants and Warrants to animal tracking documentation to case notes from officers in the field, and different laws apply to different types of records,” says Lura. “Depending on a document’s metadata, Laserfiche automatically calculates and assigns cutoff and eligibility dates, making it easy for us to manage our records and comply with regulations.”

Lura notes that there are hundreds of users across the 58 agencies the dispatch center serves. “The thin-client solution, Laserfiche Web Access, is great for us because we have so many users spread out over so many different locations,” she says. “In the future, we look to give officers access to Laserfiche from their patrol cars, and Web Access is how other agencies are making this happen.”

Making sure that all the users have the right security permissions to see only the information that pertains to them, Lura says, has been relatively easy. “We’re a Microsoft shop, so it’s great that Laserfiche allows us to use Active Directory-driven security. We came up with a dynamic, matrixed approach that’s easy to administer and update as new staff is hired.”

Workflow Makes Work Easier Across Agencies 

The consortium has also benefitted from Laserfiche Workflow, a business process management (BPM) tool that enables agencies to automate document-driven processes. “Different agencies maintain their own workflows, explains Lura. “The system is flexible enough to accommodate the needs of both RRRDC and the various agencies it serves.”

She notes that “automated approval workflows are particularly popular, as are case notification workflows that automatically notify records management staff after an officer has added information into the system.”

For example, the Moorhead Police Department implemented a series of workflow projects to minimize the amount of work involved in finding, completing and approving the paperwork associated with cases.

According to Troy Weber, Information Technology Specialist for the City of Moorhead, “Before we implemented Laserfiche Workflow, our permanent case files resided in a separate set of folders alongside our regular cases. This caused a lot of duplicate searches and errors as users needed to work with two paths because of the different permissions. Workflow now automatically sets permissions when any of the permanent case types are chosen, and the files are stored in the standard folder layout.”

He explains that case files are stored in a series of folders that match up with New World. “Because we needed the layout in Laserfiche to match up with the way New World is structured, our Laserfiche folder arrangement is not as user-friendly as it could be. In the past, our users spent a lot of time browsing to various subfolders when scanning documents,” Weber says. “We resolved this with a simple routing workflow that moves files from the new scans folder to the appropriate case folder based on metadata that was already being entered. This small change has saved a significant amount of staff time.”

In terms of approvals, Weber says, “We wanted an easy, paperless way for supervisors to ‘sign off’ on reports. Since this was only for internal purposes, we did not need an actual signature, but we did want to know which supervisor approved the document and when. Further, we wanted the documents to retain the original owner and created dates. Workflow provided an elegant solution.”

He explains, “We added a couple of fields to our template, but did not give users modify rights to them. One of the new fields is an approved field that only supervisors can modify. When populated, the workflow enters the logged in user’s name into the ‘supervisor’ field, along with the current date and time.” He further notes that this solution has given users the ability to search for documents based on a given supervisor’s approval.

Weber says that the Moorhead Police Department has found the software to be flexible and easy to configure. “Laserfiche Workflow has enabled us to transform useful digital document storage software into a full business automation solution,” he says.

From Lura’s perspective within RRRDC, “With everything it offers, from the New World integration to the business process automation and records management, Laserfiche allows the agencies in our consortium to save money each week on clerical tasks like filing. We find more and more ways to use the software every day.”

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Paperless Case Management Leveraging Laserfiche and the Apple iPad Thu, 19 Apr 2012 15:36:39 +0000 Meghann Wooster With a staff of just 11, the IT department at the City of Wichita Falls, TX, serves nearly 1,400 city employees. Similar to their colleagues at many government organizations, these IT professionals are faced with the challenge of making sure that staff members are taking advantage of new technology to elevate the speed and quality of the service they provide to citizens.

“The biggest thing we fight,” says Patrick Gray, Database Applications Analyst at Wichita Falls, “is people getting stuck in their ways.” He explains that his department’s goal is to move employees off technology from the 1980s and ‘90s and “get our city current.”

To that end, the city’s selection of Laserfiche as it enterprise content management (ECM) system of choice has been a surprisingly good tool for motivating departments to upgrade their operating systems and other IT infrastructure. “The more people see what Laserfiche can do, the more they want it—and the more they’re willing to change the way they work to get it,” Gray says.

Choosing Laserfiche

Prior to implementing Laserfiche in 2010, Wichita Falls was overrun with paper. “We had the usual filing cabinets and bankers boxes stored away in various rooms maintained by various people,” explains Gray. “Records retention was rarely enforced, so the paper was stacking up and we were running out of storage space.”

Although two departments had legacy imaging systems in place, they were outdated, lacked vendor support and didn’t offer ECM functionality such as records management, business process management or batch processing.

“When we put out our RFP in 2009, we cast the net wide,” Gray says. “We looked at functionality, but we were very careful to weed out companies that didn’t have a secure and stable future. We wanted a system that would be easy to use, administer and maintain, regardless of any staffing changes here at Wichita Falls.”

Working with MCCi, a Laserfiche reseller that specializes in local government solutions, the city implemented Laserfiche in its City Clerk’s Office in 2010. “Our City Clerk, Lydia Ozuna, is our records manager, so she’s responsible for making information available to both employees and residents, and for staying compliant with Texas State Library recommendations for records retention,” Gray explains.

He notes that having digital records available in Laserfiche makes the City Clerk’s job much easier. Documents like agendas, minutes, bids and newsletters are “readily available for staff to retrieve and research, saving the City Clerk a great deal of time and effort.” In addition, Laserfiche Workflow, a business process management tool included in the Laserfiche suite, automatically applies records retention schedules to digitized documents, simplifying compliance, reducing training time and eliminating mistakes.

Gray says that Ozuna is looking forward to the launch of the city’s new Website over the summer, which will take advantage of Laserfiche WebLink, a browser-based thin client, to allow citizens to download public documents off the Web. “She won’t have to post PDFs to the Website anymore. Users will have access to the records they need directly from Laserfiche.”

Paperless Case Management Leveraging Laserfiche and the Apple iPad

After implementing Laserfiche in the City Clerk’s Office, the IT department turned to the Municipal Courts, where it has been able to implement a paperless case management system using a combination of Laserfiche, Infosol and the Apple iPad.

In the past, court clerks printed documents from Infosol, creating hard copy files that were then processed manually and stored in an active filing cabinet until the case was closed. Once the case was closed, associated documents were moved to another filing cabinet for the five-year retention period.

Today, Wichita Falls uses Affinity to integrate Laserfiche and Infosol, allowing the courts to automatically import documents into Laserfiche without the need to print. When a document enters the repository:

  • Laserfiche Workflow automatically moves it to the Active Case Files folder, where a Case ID file is created.
  • Court clerks review the digitized document and enter metadata into the document template.
  • Workflow renames the document based on its metadata and files it in the appropriate year directory.

“By eliminating the need to print records, we’ve regained a lot of space that used to house filing cabinets,” Gray says, explaining that the Municipal Courts used to generate roughly 3,000 pages of paper a month, all of which had to be retained for five years according to Texas State Laws. “Even better, by decreasing the need for court clerks to find and file records, we’ve saved a lot of time!”

He notes that Workflow further enhances productivity by automating review and approval processes. For example, if a case file needs to be reviewed by the judge, the court clerk will update a template field in the case file, triggering Laserfiche to move it to a Review folder and notifying the judge by e-mail that the file requires attention.

By updating a template field when a case closes, court clerks kick off a workflow that archives and applies the appropriate retention schedule to the case documents. “Workflow is great because it saves time, cuts costs and leaves very little room for mistakes by end users. Once you’ve created a workflow, it basically does all their work for them,” Gray says.

Municipal Courts judges access Laserfiche on their iPads, ensuring that they can view and act upon case files from wherever they are. “I love the mobility of this solution,” says Gray, “and I can’t wait for the release of Laserfiche Mobile for iPad. Right now, we’re using Laserfiche Web Access on the iPad, but I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do with the new app.”

He notes that Wichita Falls’ full-time judge, Larry Gillen, uses his iPad so much that “he really doesn’t even need his desktop anymore.”

Gray is particularly excited about moving to a new court management system and adding wireless videoconferencing into the mix. “With access to Laserfiche and the new court management system on his iPad and the video conferencing in place, the judge will be able to administer remote judgments to prisoners at our downtown jail, decreasing costs while also improving the safety of our citizens since we will no longer have to transport prisoners to court.”

Expanding across the Enterprise 

Vital Records is another heavy Laserfiche user. Using Laserfiche Quick Fields, a high-volume capture and processing tool, Vital Records batch scans birth and death certificates. Gray notes that, before Laserfiche, scanning a year of birth certificates into the department’s legacy system took about a month. Today, it takes two days.

“Laserfiche has exceeded everyone’s expectations,” he says. “We currently have a 50-user Laserfiche Avante system, but we’re looking to upgrade to Laserfiche Rio so that we can continue to expand our system to accommodate the demand from our users.”

Additional departments currently using Laserfiche include Purchasing, Risk Management, Finance and HR. According to Gray, “Installing Laserfiche within various departments has been easy, and troubleshooting has been a snap, especially with the quick response times of the Laserfiche tech support team.”

He notes that Budgeting will get Laserfiche next, followed by the police and health departments. The city is also planning to integrate Laserfiche with its finance and HR software.

“In just two years’ time, we’ve accomplished a lot with Laserfiche,” Gray says. “People are excited about this software. Now, when they come to me with requests, I have to tell them to take a number and get in line!”

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Building Top of the Class Agility for Higher Education Wed, 11 Apr 2012 22:39:10 +0000 admin Oklahoma Christian University’s modest size offers big innovation: the private liberal arts college with 2,200 students and more than 60 degree programs is a visionary leader in advanced teaching and learning methods. Each incoming student receives a laptop and an iPhone for integrated activities in classroom instruction, and Oklahoma Christian (OC) consistently ranks as one of the top colleges in the West.

This prestige has driven a greater enrollment rate at OC in recent years. However, the influx of students strained the school’s technology infrastructure as many departments struggled to maintain back-end processes related to student services, such as billing, financial aid award processing and records retention. Paper-based processes across campus seemed almost sophomoric compared to the school’s reputation as a high-tech university.

“The irony is that we’ve been a pioneer in educational technology, but our business operations were behind the curve,” says John Hermes, OC’s Vice President for Information Technology. “We are a very digital campus, yet very analog in our administrative processes.”

Historically, Hermes’ IT department controlled new technology projects to address campus infrastructure needs. Although Hermes had explored enterprise content management (ECM) systems in the past, investing in a new technology system was a hard sell to an administration looking to consolidate IT costs.

“I watched the paper records and operational inefficiencies conflate on campus, but we had no way to manage these problems without ECM,” notes Hermes.

Scripting an ECM Syllabus 

When the university’s President visited the offices of BMI Systems, OC’s copier dealer, the company’s impressive paperless environment convinced him that enterprise content management (ECM) could optimize OC’s resources, too. With the President’s support, Hermes began developing criteria for a solution that could provide:

  • A quick, easy learning curve for administrators and students.
  • Integrations with existing line-of-business applications.
  • Methods for reducing paper records and incoming mail.
  • The flexibility to manage data for many departments while still maintaining secure records.

Although the university considered other ECM solutions, it was Laserfiche’s scalable architecture and integrations with existing applications, like the school’s ERP software, that assured administrators the system could easily cut costs and build a platform for shared services on campus.

More importantly, Laserfiche’s flexibility provided OC the opportunity to apply its innovative spirit to business process improvements. To implement ECM, Hermes led a new model of shared IT governance, a strategy that positions the IT department as a project consultant and gives individual departments autonomy over how they access documents with ECM technology. Using Laserfiche, OC aimed to catalyze new, efficient projects in diverse types of offices while at the same time establishing a university-wide standard for information management and security.

“I didn’t want to take on another project within IT without support from others,” notes Hermes. “By distributing IT leadership among administrators, we could provide the overall IT cost savings required by business units along with the sensitivity to individual departmental needs.”

Although OC envisioned bringing the whole campus onto Laserfiche, Hermes first needed to prove that ECM and the shared governance model produced real results. His approach centered on three strategies:

  • Choosing a department for initial implementation that could quickly demonstrate the value of ECM.
  • Creating a cost-analysis of current business processes.
  • Leveraging a knowledgeable vendor for a quick implementation.

Accelerating Financial Aid 

To achieve these objectives, Hermes collaborated with OC’s Director of Student Financial Services, Clint LaRue, to develop an initial Laserfiche project for Student Financial Services in 2010. The department was a textbook example of inefficient paper-based processes: Prospective students wanted to receive scholarships sooner, and current students expected the ability to submit and track their applications online. Misplaced paper files, however, often slowed responses to students and undercut the university’s competitive edge.

“Customer service issues were very apparent when we evaluated the existing system,” says Hermes. “Starting small with an office we knew was struggling helped us show a quick return on investment to other departments and gain support throughout the university.”

Hermes and LaRue calculated current expenditures, like file storage size, mailing, personnel and time costs, and conservatively projected a savings of $23,000 over the next four years with Laserfiche.

Although Hermes drove the overall IT vision, LaRue leveraged the expertise of Laserfiche reseller BMI + ImageNet to begin achieving those savings. Together, they positioned Laserfiche as integrative middleware that streamlines the financial aid award process for both students and administrators.

Before, submission forms entered the office via paper mail from students all around the world. Now, an integration between Laserfiche Avante, LincDoc (the department’s eForms tool), Microsoft SharePoint and Datatel (an ERP system now known as Ellucian), enables students to submit this information electronically:

  • Staff generates and uploads a number of forms using LincDoc, like asset information worksheets and tax forms, to the campus’ myOC portal, an online Website based on Microsoft SharePoint.
  • Students log onto their myOC accounts. By clicking on the “Missing Documents” section of the site, students may view and complete the financial aid documents they still need to submit.
  • Once the student and/or parent signs and submits the form, Laserfiche Workflow automatically classifies the document as either Award, Probation or Suspension, Need Counselor Number or Need Student Name and File in Laserfiche and routes it to a financial aid counselor based on fields on the form.

Once documents have been submitted online, the integration also allows the counselors to access both submitted documents and old student records by sourcing information from other systems within a familiar Datatel environment:

  • A Laserfiche Quick Fields session runs multiple times a day and processes incoming documents by looking up the student ID number on the document along with the name of a financial aid counselor, who is automatically assigned student files based on students’ last names.
  • Laserfiche Workflow then routes the document to the financial aid counselor responsible for this student.
  • The counselor can then open Datatel and click on a binoculars icon that pulls up any documents associated with that student from Laserfiche, such as transcripts, character recommendations and financial aid paperwork.
  • The financial aid counselor then opens the submitted form in Laserfiche and reviews it to make sure everything has been filled out correctly. A Laserfiche Quick Fields session allows staff to populate additional template fields and approve the document within Datatel.
  • With the click of a button in Datatel, the record is archived in Laserfiche and automatically updated on the student’s myOC portal.
  • Giving students real-time access to documents and quick online feedback about their application status is “invaluable,” according to LaRue. “We’ve eliminated the perception of lost documents, and can retrieve them much easier,” he says.

With Laserfiche, the office is more responsive to students, providing financial aid awards more quickly and reducing the workload of financial counselors, who quickly learned how to use the Laserfiche features.

“If I needed to send out a big batch of award letters before, they were printed, copied, mailed and filed. When I understood that Laserfiche could send those letters to the students’ electronic files with the click of a button, that was a big ‘a-ha’ moment for me,” says LaRue.

From an IT perspective, having an entire office up and running proficiently on Laserfiche in just two days without a single support call was “an ideal implementation,” according to Hermes. The IT department can manage the servers without becoming involved in mission-critical processes, allowing the Financial Aid Office to retain secure control over its own data and preserve records according to Department of Education guidelines.

How did the project stack up upon final examination? The quick implementation aced the projected ROI—instead of saving $23,000 over four years, the financial aid department saved $31,000 in hard costs in less than two years.

Applying Shared Services Campus-Wide 

Exceeding the initial ROI and gaining LaRue’s support convinced other departments to adopt ECM, says Hermes: “By having a Laserfiche champion outside the IT department, we demonstrated Laserfiche is a great cost-saving measure for other units, too.”

LaRue echoed that perspective. “Others will get on board if the leadership is confident in the right product,” he says. “Go for it and don’t hold onto paper when there are clearly better processes.”

His enthusiasm was contagious, and additional administrators began their own ECM projects after hearing about Laserfiche’s ease-of-use and flexibility. Hermes will soon roll out ECM to departments including Accounts Payable, Admissions, the Registrar’s Office and the Office of Student Life.

To enable the successful implementation of ECM across campus, OC has established an IT governance committee. Comprised of multiple administrators from different departments, the group convenes quarterly to discuss file structures, compliance concerns and integration details across the university. Now, IT no longer manages competing demands; rather, the committee addresses campus-wide initiatives and prioritizes projects in a democratic, diverse forum as enrollment grows.

This interdependent IT governance model provides a well-defined path for the university’s goal of bringing every department onto ECM. By using Laserfiche as a foundation for shared services, OC can optimize resources, cut costs and ultimately create a better student experience.

Hermes emphasizes, “We can show others that Laserfiche is something you really need in your office. This will help you in your daily process. This will improve employee morale. This will help you in everything you are trying to do for students.”

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Community Action Agency Improves Crisis Response Time by Automating Case Management Tue, 20 Mar 2012 23:15:40 +0000 Meghann Wooster Each winter, thousands of residents in Minnesota’s Ramsey and Washington Counties struggle to pay for basic heating and utilities. When a household finds itself in need, it turns to Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties, a state agency that runs the largest low income home energy assistance program in Minnesota.

“In 2009, we had more than 25,000 active applications stored in 30 extra-deep, four-drawer filing cabinets,” explains Catherine Fair, Director of Energy Assistance Programs at Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties. “Due to state regulations, we need to keep past applications on file for three years, so we had even more paper stuffed into two onsite storage rooms and an offsite storage garage.”

Paper files slowed staff down, but they also complicated the energy assistance program’s twice-yearly audits. Fair explains, “As a state agency, we’re regularly audited to ensure that applications are accurately processed. Files are randomly selected by the auditors, and it was a daunting task to find the ones they requested among 25,000 others!”

She explains that, as she was researching content management solutions, Laserfiche’s name kept cropping up. “The tech sites I visited all mentioned Laserfiche as the industry standard for government organizations.”

Fair notes that Laserfiche Workflow, a business process management tool that enables organizations to automate manual processes, was a major factor in the agency’s decision to purchase Laserfiche. “We knew that automating our application approval process would make us more efficient and accelerate our ability to help households in need,” she says.

Benefits of the TIFF File Format

Laserfiche’s use of the TIFF file format was another big point in its favor. “Laserfiche stores files in the TIFF file format, which all computers can read,” says Fair.

The TIFF file format is the preferred digital archival format for many organizations because it is an open standard. There are a variety of freely available TIFF viewers available and every computer can natively view TIFF files. Scanning documents as TIFF images and extracting their contents as ASCII text is the only way to maintain “eye readability” in a digital format.

Further, choosing an ECM solution that uses an open file format ensures that system performance is continuously enhanced by advances in hardware, software and communication technologies. Selecting a closed format hampers the ability to migrate data from one ECM system to another.

Fair notes that the IT department for Community Action of Ramsey and Washington Counties did not want to implement ECM software that uses closed file formats because there is no guarantee that such formats will be supported in 25, 50 or even 100 years. “Vendor lock-in is a big concern for the IT department. If you choose a file format that’s controlled by a single vendor, you invite a lot of unnecessary risk from both an IT and an information governance perspective.”

Managing Change with Fish-themed Fun 

After researching its options, the agency chose to purchase Laserfiche Avante, an ECM solution for organizations with fewer than 100 users, from Solbrekk, a Laserfiche reseller based in Minneapolis. Laserfiche Avante’s named-user model works well for Community Action of Ramsey and Washington Counties, since multiple staff members frequently need to access the system at the same time.

“We created and screened a home movie illustrating the way things were before Laserfiche. Then we showed how easy paperless application processing would be thanks to Laserfiche Workflow.” 


Another important feature, says Fair, is that the functionality and appearance of the Laserfiche user interface is similar to Windows. “The familiarity is comforting for our less confident computer users.”

Fair notes that, once Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties selected Laserfiche, ensuring a smooth transition from paper-based to paperless processes was essential. She explains, “We have staff with varied computer competency, so a positive attitude to the new system was critical to the success of the project.”

For two years, energy assistance program staff used Laserfiche primarily for records management, scanning paper files into the system once the data entry and eligibility determination processes were complete. To mark the beginning of a new era—the era of workflow automation—the department held a fish-themed kickoff party that boasted fish balloons, goldfish crackers, glow sticks and a fish mascot to get everyone excited about expanding their use of Laserfiche.

According to Fair, “We created and screened a home movie illustrating the way things were before Laserfiche, with endless searches for files, frustrated staff and clients and so on. Then we showed how easy paperless application processing would be thanks to Laserfiche Workflow.”

Training on how to use Laserfiche Workflow, a business process management tool, to manage applications followed the movie screening.

Automated Application Processing

In August 2011, the energy assistance program began scanning applications and documentation such as paycheck stubs into Laserfiche prior to determining income eligibility or entering the demographic information into a statewide Web-based client database.

“Many of our clients are very low income and have been disconnected from their utilities. We receive thousands of calls from clients anxious to know if we can help them,” says Fair. “Before Laserfiche, these kinds of calls were hard to field, since staff didn’t have the relevant information in front of them. Today, the calls are much more productive. We can find a client’s application immediately by looking in Laserfiche and can then let the client know exactly what he needs to do to complete his application.”

After applications are scanned into the system using Laserfiche Quick Fields, a high-volume capture and processing tool, staff members process applications for assistance by:

  • Opening the Application Status folder, which contains subfolders including Approved, Certify, Complete, Denied, Incomplete, Logged, Match Follow-Up, Transfer Out/Closed and Vacant Clients.
  • Opening the Logged folder, which contains two subfolders:
    - Red Orange Yellow, which is for all crisis files that need to be processed within a timeline.
    - Green, which means that there is no immediate crisis or threat of disconnection.
  • Opening the Red Orange Yellow folder, where they see application priority status and creation date/time. Fair explains, “We used the colors that staff had associated with crisis priorities when we were processing paper files to ensure the workflow was intuitive and easy for staff to understand.”
  • To sign out files for processing, case workers sort by application date and crisis priority. They select the first ten applications, right-click on them to open the application template, click on the Processor ID drop-down box, select their name and hit enter.
  • Workflow automatically moves the selected files into the staff member’s subfolder within the Processing Group folder.
  • Laserfiche Workflow automatically creates folders for each case, including the application, an eligibility worksheet and a case note log.
  • Many template fields in the application are prepopulated with data from the Quick Fields session, but upon reviewing the application, staff members manually input additional information such as the amount of assistance to be provided.
    - The eligibility worksheet (an Excel file) included in the case folder allows staff members to easily calculate the amount of assistance each applicant is eligible for.
    - In the case notes log (a Word document) staff members record details of conversations with applicants.
  • The template has drop-down menus that allow the staff member to direct the file to other groups for follow up. For example, if a case worker chooses “yes” under Furnace Problem, Workflow will automatically move the file to the furnace repair group for attention.

“By digitizing applications and automating the approval process, we have significantly improved crisis response time,” says Fair. “When an application shows a disconnection in progress, we route the file to an expedited queue simply by changing a template field. We can also sort through income documents much faster to determine grant amounts as soon as possible.”

Fair notes that Laserfiche, thanks to security features such as Windows authentication and named-user access, protects client information such as social security numbers. “The agency would face hefty fines if we had a breach of data security. With more than 100,000 files in four locations, we were taking a big risk. Laserfiche protects sensitive information while making our business processes more efficient. It has helped us tremendously and we hope that other non-profit agencies that deliver federal programs can learn from our success!”

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Shareholders Service Group Tue, 20 Mar 2012 23:10:03 +0000 Hobey Echlin Shareholders Service Group (SSG) was co-founded in 2002 by Peter Mangan and Bob Reed, financial services executives with over 60 collective years of experience in the brokerage services and financial advisor industry. Their goal was to provide high-quality, dedicated services for independent registered investment advisors.

From the beginning, Laserfiche® enterprise content management (ECM) software has provided a technological foundation to help SSG provide that high-quality, dedicated service. “Based on our business experience, how paper-intensive our business would be and the necessary controls around that, we knew it was incredibly important to have a well-known, well-respected document management system,” says Dan Skiles, executive vice president of SSG. “Laserfiche certainly knew FINRA and understood the importance of the documents that we use to run our business.”

Over the past decade, the firm has expanded—as has its use of Laserfiche to manage its documents electronically. “Our business is growing dramatically, and so the scalability and reliability of Laserfiche has been critical to that success for us,” Skiles says.

“When we started, we had zero advisors, and today we’re pushing almost 1,000. Keep in mind those advisors have accounts—from as little as four or five to several hundred. Laserfiche has been there with us the whole time,” he adds.

Content management that improves customer relationships

Key to its usefulness, Skiles says, has been Laserfiche’s customizable folder structures, which makes it easy to use in different business units. “We have multiple departments—trading, new accounts, operations, cash management—all using Laserfiche for their various business processes. And the fact that it’s flexible enough to meet their needs, even though their roles and responsibilities are different, has helped us to have a cohesive group responding appropriately to clients as we use their documents.”

Skiles also lauds Laserfiche’s ability to manage documents of all types and ages, using various metadata and comprehensive search capabilities. “We’re a heavily regulated business, so yesterday’s documents are just as important as today’s,” he says. “The fact that Laserfiche has grown with us, and is scalable and reliable as we grow our staff, has been critical in our overall success.”

It’s this best-of-breed ease-of-use, he says, that has been especially practical when it comes to getting everyone on the same (paperless) page. “Certainly one of the things we’ve noticed with Laserfiche is how user-friendly it is, so that our staff—from someone who’s been on staff for eight to ten years to someone we just hired as an intern last year—can immediately be productive,” he says. “Because everyone in the firm is responding to clients, a short learning curve is critical.”

The result, according to Skiles, is a foundation for not only managing content, but also relationships. “When you run a broker-dealer, your documents are critical. They represent agreements. They represent authority,” he says. “With Laserfiche, with the way we’re able to work within the system, we have control of our clients’ information. They’re impressed by our ability to retrieve a document while we’re on the phone with them, which ultimately strengthens that personal relationship.”

Smoother audits

Regulators, too, have been impressed, as they were earlier this year. “We had FINRA come in to our office for their regular audit. Laserfiche was such a critical component of that because everything that FINRA wanted related to our documents,” Skiles recalls. “Everything they asked for—new account applications, authorizations to do this for a client, this agreement that was established with this client, transfer instructions from other financial services firms—was in Laserfiche, so we were able to provide it to them electronically.

The cost of compliance has nearly doubled in the past three years, reaching an estimated annual cost of more than $25 billion, according to the Securities Industry Association’s Report on the Costs of Compliance in the U.S. Securities Industry. As Skiles points out, in an increasingly demanding regulatory environment, deploying an ECM solution not only improves the bottom line, but also helps simplify audits.

“It’s a big deal,” he continues. “Let me tell you, when you’re sitting there with FINRA and you want to respond efficiently and effectively to their requests, removing some of that anxiety is worth a lot to both your sanity and your sleeping at night.

“That’s why we have rules that if it’s not scanned, it doesn’t exist. It’s so critical with our growing staff that we all have access to the same information. Now with nearly 1,000 advisors, we all have access to information at the click of a button.”

The competitive value of “technology strength”

The 2011 InvestmentNews Technology Study showed that, in the financial services industry, increased productivity was by far the most common consideration in technology spending. Automating routine, rules-based tasks allows staff at top-performing firms to spend more time serving clients.

When it comes to ROI, Skiles highlights the availability of information as one of Laserfiche’s defining factors—something that moves beyond getting rid of paper and filing cabinets. “Certainly the immediate ROI that comes to mind is not having documents and filing cabinets all over the place. But with a growing firm, the ROI I most appreciate is how quickly we can make an employee efficient. I can hire someone and have them up and running with Laserfiche in less than a day.”

The result, he says, is that SSG has kept operations optimal and compliance concerns to a minimum while also maintaining its competitive edge. “There’s been, obviously, competitive pressure on trading, and then of course the regulations have increased dramatically. What’s helped us a lot is technology,” he says.

“We took more trades over five days in August this past year than we did the first month that I was at the firm more than three years ago. And what’s exciting about that is that our trading desk was able to accommodate those trades just because of technology. Bottom line is that it does show you the technology strength that you have in this business.”

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Custom Fit for Critical Care Tue, 20 Mar 2012 23:00:49 +0000 admin Quickly moving patients from intensive care situations to the right treatment centers allows MedFlight, a non-profit medical transportation company, to achieve its mission of caring for and transporting the critically ill and injured. Based in Columbus, OH, MedFlight specializes in coronary care, open heart recovery and cardiac catherization for nearly 7,000 critical care patients transported by helicopter and mobile units each year.

The organization’s skillfully trained nurses and paramedics are some of the first caregivers who interact with patients on scene. Treatment takes just minutes to administer; yet in the past, the billing and filing associated with those services spent days in administration. The organization ailed under a paper-intensive patient care records (PCR) process that led to lost files and extraneous document copies.

“Our PCR process is a mission-critical activity that keeps everyone accountable for all of the services MedFlight provides to patients in severe situations,” says MedFlight’s Chief Financial Officer Chuck Ansley. “Our crews take charting notes on each patient, which numerous departments in our organization rely on following a transport. We needed a way to automate this distribution that wouldn’t disrupt our operations or compromise patient information.”

MedFlight purchased a Laserfiche enterprise content management (ECM) system in 2008 after its copier dealer, Gordon Flesch, showed the organization Laserfiche’s records management capabilities and ability to deliver a quick ROI. Before implementing the software, MedFlight organized a workgroup to determine which departments would realize the greatest improvements from automated processes, focusing on patient care records, AP processing and EMR system integration.

 Bogged Down at Touch Down

Alleviating MedFlight’s PCR chart jacket process produced the greatest time and paper cost savings. Piles of field notes on all services rendered while in transit, such as administered CPR and IVs, accumulated as soon as the helicopters touched the ground:

  • Transport crews passed a copy of the chart to the receiving hospital and also faxed the chart to the MedFlight Communications Center.
  • The Communications Center would print a copy of associated computer-aided design (CAD) data and file it with the paper chart in a complete bundle called a “chart jacket.”
  • Finance would receive the chart jacket, physically copy all the papers in it, fax the documents to the billing company and file the jacket in the Medical Records storage room.
  • A paper checkout log tracked the chart jacket’s location when in use, but the static nature of the paper log made updating its most current whereabouts difficult.
  • In addition, the original chart moved from offsite base locations several days after the transport and had to be married to the appropriate chart jacket.

Laserfiche provided a powerful solution for this document-heavy procedure. The Laserfiche SDK offers a collection of programming interfaces in which users can construct their own Laserfiche scripts and programs that work in tandem with existing processes. Using the SDK, MedFlight built its own scanning client, FTP server and communications tools to help automate the entire PCR chart jacket process.

“We once used a very laborious process,” says Ansley. ”We had all these copies floating around and different departments using them for different reasons. Now, there is no more paper associated with the records. The possibility of something disappearing or ending up where it shouldn’t has been eliminated.”

MedFlight achieved these improvements by integrating Laserfiche Workflow, a business process management tool that automatically routes documents and content between users, with its EMR system, Zoll Medical. The communication between the two systems moves documents from the field into clinicians’ hands much faster and forms a legal record for the PCR chart jacket per below:

  • At the helicopter base following a transit, flight crews scan and send a mix of electronic and paper EMR documentation gathered in the field, including face sheets from the hospital, billing sheets, liability forms and any other identifying patient information, to MedFlight’s server.
  • Laserfiche automatically retrieves the corresponding patient information, like name and date treated, from the Zoll CAD dispatch system and creates a new Laserfiche folder for the patient based on the retrieved information.
  • Laserfiche Workflow bundles together the face sheets, patient signatures, clinical information and any other corresponding documents and stores them all together as an electronic chart jacket in the Laserfiche folder for easy retrieval by the Communications Center.

When the field crew scans and finalizes the EMR records, the automated PCR chart jacket workflow also ensures that MedFlight’s third-party billing company, MedBill, receives the records in a timely manner.

  • Every morning at 7:00 am, an automatic search of the MedFlight server and folders from the prior day electronically delivers new PCR charts and documents in a report to the Communications Center for immediate processing.
  • The Communications Center then verifies the information on the chart and sets the status to “Reviewed.
  • Using Laserfiche Quick Fields and the Zoll integration, the Communications Center can then fold patient demographics from the CAD data and from imported transport records into the EMR metadata in Laserfiche.
  • The Communications Center moves the finalized records into a digital MedBill Outbox for the medical record clerk, who then performs a final verification of the EMR records by tracking down any missing information in the chart jacket and exporting the records to MedBill via FTP file transfer.
  • The system also automatically faxes EMR records to receiving hospitals after field crews mark EMR records as complete on the server.
    With Laserfiche, employees can view the chart jacket bundles on their computers based on customizable security allowances, eliminating lost chart jackets, insecure files and tedious manual data entry.

“Staff time improvement has been a huge gain for us. Before, if one person had a document, no one else could get it or the information on it without making a copy. By giving our staff access to information in multiple locations at the same time, we are processing our billing much faster and building greater efficiencies,” says Ansley.

Furthermore, since Laserfiche Workflow automatically moves the medical records into restricted folders based on security allowances, Laserfiche ensures that MedFlight meets HIPAA compliance regulations. Laserfiche Audit Trail, which monitors and reports system activity like logins, security tags and changes to metadata, allows MedFlight to track exactly which employees access and use the medical records.

Delivering an Enterprise-wide Remedy 

In addition to simplifying the PCR process, Laserfiche furnished MedFlight with the flexibility to customize solutions for other departments. For example, Laserfiche Workflow also simplifies the organization’s accounts payable process:

  • When an employee scans an invoice into the Laserfiche repository, Workflow automatically files the invoice in the appropriate folder.
  • Workflow also generates an e-mail to the appropriate department head notifying him or her that an invoice is waiting for approval.
  • The department head will then review the invoice and change the metadata to “Approved.” If rejected, Workflow notifies the employee and prompts him to make changes and re-submit the invoice.
  • When the document is approved, Workflow digitally returns the approved document to Accounts Payable for payment.
“Laserfiche is truly an enterprise solution for our organization. It has grown into an application that nearly every department in the company, from Finance to Human Resources to Administrative Records, relies on in some way.”

 MedFlight looks next to implement Laserfiche with its standard operating procedures/policies forms. The organization currently posts policies as PDFs on its Intranet system, where users can retrieve documents by policy title only. Laserfiche would bring search capabilities to the policy forms so employees could easily find documents by phrase and word search.

“Laserfiche is truly an enterprise solution for our organization. When we started our implementation, we didn’t have a real handle on what Laserfiche could do; now it has grown into an application that nearly every department in the company, from Finance to Human Resources to Administrative Records, relies on in some way,” notes Ansley.

These configurable solutions have also brought significant savings; over the course of the past three years, MedFlight has saved $100,000 in paper, printing and related costs. MedFlight credits the increased capability to share information between 30 users as a key propeller of Laserfiche’s wide acceptance among many departments.

“For the people who have been the beneficiaries of a reduced paper workflow, it’s an easy sell,” notes Ansley. “If you tell them you’re going to diminish the amount of paper they have to deal with, most people get on board.”

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County of Essex Implements ECM as a Shared Service Sat, 11 Feb 2012 00:27:11 +0000 Meghann Wooster For the IT department at Essex County in Ontario, Canada, enterprise content management (ECM) has been its first foray into shared services.

“What started as a niche application in the County Clerk’s Office has now become an enterprise infrastructure investment,” says Wendy St. Amour, Essex County’s IT Manager.

The county implemented Laserfiche back in 2000 because “managing paper records in an organization of our size was an arduous, time-consuming and expensive task. Complying with a myriad of new government regulations and increasingly less physical space made it even more difficult,” explains St. Amour, adding that manual workflow processes were inefficient and time consuming.

She notes that the county “makes a point of making the right decision upfront,” and that based on a combination of good references from other municipalities, user-friendly technology and an affordable price, Laserfiche won the RFP process.

Initially implemented in the County Clerk’s Office, Laserfiche immediately began providing benefits.

Mary Brennan, the County’s Director of Council Services/Clerk, explains, “As the County Clerk, it’s my job to respond to requests for information. With Laserfiche, I never have to venture down into the dreaded basement vault to search for and retrieve records. By giving me a way to find documents quickly, Laserfiche has saved a tremendous amount of time over the years.”

Evolution of a Shared Service

What started as a solution for the County Clerk’s Office soon spread—not just to additional departments such as Engineering and Finance, but to seven municipalities within the County as well.

“Since we purchased Laserfiche in 2000, all seven of the municipalities in Essex County have implemented the software,” says Brennan. “The Municipality of Leamington was actually included in our RFP. The others saw the success we were having, heard similar success stories from other municipalities and decided that Laserfiche would be beneficial for them, too.”

At first, the municipalities maintained and administered their own Laserfiche systems. Over time, however, they began to understand the advantages of sharing, including the ability to leverage economies of scale, take advantage of a wider knowledge base and gain access to additional ECM functionality.

Brennan explains that Essex County dipped its toe into the shared service pool by jointly purchasing and using Laserfiche WebLink as a public information portal together with all seven of its lower-tier municipalities. The online portal provides residents with access to government material such as:

  • Agendas.
  • Bylaws.
  • Meeting minutes.
  • Historical documents.
  • Studies requiring public consultation.

“Laserfiche WebLink is great because all interested stakeholders can easily view public documents with the click of a mouse,” Brennan explains. “Plus, it saves our staff the work of converting documents to PDFs and manually posting them on our Website.”

St. Amour notes that, with eight organizations using Laserfiche, the knowledge base staff amassed was substantial. “The ability to share knowledge and expertise with each other has proven to be very beneficial. That, coupled with the cost savings of sharing one enterprise system, gave us the confidence to upgrade to Laserfiche Rio.”

After consulting with MC Imaging Technologies, Essex County’s Laserfiche reseller, the County and its lower-tier municipalities all agreed that purchasing and deploying Laserfiche Rio as a shared service was the best way to empower employees and capitalize on everything the software has to offer.

“The ability to use unlimited servers is what made our expansion to Rio possible, because each lower-tier municipality uses its own server while taking advantage of the additional functionality Rio offers, such as Laserfiche Workflow,” says St. Amour.

“By taking a shared-service approach, we can develop a process once, and with a few small changes, eight different organizations can benefit from it,” she adds.

Enterprise Efficiency in Action

St. Amour notes that the County and its municipalities benefit from integration between Laserfiche, ESRI ArcGIS and Geocortex, an interactive mapping tool. Cathy Paduch, GIS Technician for Essex County, explains, “The integration allows staff to access documents associated with any spatial asset simply by clicking on a point on a map. This saves time and eliminates the need to store documents in multiple locations.”

Imagery supplied by the County is leveraged by many departments in local municipalities and is also available for public consumption over the Web. Residents can take advantage of an interactive map to locate schools, recreational buildings, municipal institutions, hospitals, churches and police and fire stations—along with associated documents available via Laserfiche WebLink. Paduch notes that protected information such as property tax information is only available to staff.

Mike Sherwood, GIS Technician, adds that the custom script the County created dynamically searches Laserfiche and returns a list of the number and type of documents associated with any given location. “We don’t have to do any maintenance on the GIS side to keep the integration working,” he says.

Although designed and administered by County employees, staff across all seven of Essex’s municipalities benefit from the integration. “It allows all levels of staff from administration, emergency services and engineering departments to easily locate documents,” Paduch explains.

St. Amour adds, “The ease and efficiency of being able to track down and locate multiple documents associated to spatial data within the map interface is a great time saver.”

Looking Ahead

Although Essex County has only recently implemented Laserfiche Rio, St. Amour says that the County’s priority is automating business processes using Laserfiche Workflow. “Our first priority will be to automate our agendas; then we’ll take a hard look at how we can make our accounts payable and HR processes more efficient.”

Overall, implementing Laserfiche ECM as a shared service across the County and its lower-tier municipalities has enabled Essex to leverage economies of scale, gain access to additional ECM functionality and decrease the amount of time staff spends on manual tasks such as filing and finding paper documents.

“We’ve already realized a significant ROI from using Laserfiche,” says St. Amour. “Now that we have Rio, we can’t wait to start reaping the benefits of business process automation!”

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Optimize Your Revenue Cycle with Paperless Processes Tue, 07 Feb 2012 01:39:36 +0000 Meghann Wooster Founded in 1973 to serve the residents of California’s North San Diego County, Tri City Emergency Medical Group has a long history of enhancing patient care through the development and use of state-of-the-art technology. Tri City’s forward-thinking emergency physicians were among the first in the nation to use bedside ultrasound to evaluate emergency patients, and more recently they developed a unique medical scribe program in which pre-med students assist with electronic record keeping and documentation.

Although the doctors’ attention is devoted to delivering excellent patient care, they recognize that if the medical group’s finances aren’t in order, their ability to continue serving patients is compromised. Therefore, they’ve charged their business office with employing the best people, processes and technology to optimize the revenue cycle and ensure the profitability of the practice.

Recession Brings Reimbursement Challenges

“The tough economy and changing California regulations have made it more and more difficult to collect payment in a timely manner,” explains Sue Kruger, Office Manager at Tri City. “Medicare and Medi-Cal pay only a fraction of the fee for emergency services, people who’ve lost their jobs and their health insurance oftentimes can’t pay for their care and private payers sometimes drag their heels.”

She notes that the group’s physicians treat an average of 6,000-7,000 patients a month. In terms of Tri City’s revenue:

  • 27% comes from Medicare patients.
  • 17-18% comes from Medi-Cal.
  • A little over half comes from private insurers and self-pay accounts.

“Our employees have to work much harder to collect the same percentage of payment they did three or four years ago,” says Kruger. “If we didn’t have a paperless system, we’d absolutely have had to hire more staff.”

Integrating Content Management with Practice Management

After transitioning to a new practice management system—CPU’s MED/FM—in 2003, Tri City began thinking about how to get even more value out of that system. When CPU introduced an integration with Laserfiche enterprise content management (ECM), Tri City jumped on board.

“Handling paper was a big expense that slowed our staff down,” says Kruger. “Our doctors recognized that purchasing Laserfiche would pay off in terms of staff productivity.”

J.R. Juiliano, Tri City’s IT Manager, explains, “We scan everything that’s related to patient encounters into Laserfiche. This includes demographic information, dictations, EOBs and correspondence from insurance companies.”

He notes that the hospital sends information to the medical group via an FTP site. “In the past, we just printed everything onsite.”

This, of course, was problematic on many levels:

  • It was expensive.
  • It was difficult to store.
  • It was tough to retrieve in a timely manner.

“We have to keep patient information for seven years,” says Juiliano. “We used to rent four storage units at a facility that’s ten miles away. We kept a year’s worth of records onsite in a big filing room, but somebody had to go over to the storage units at least once a week.”

Kruger adds, “Efficient medical billing depends on keeping people in their seats so they can be productive. Manual tasks like retrieving paper records just aren’t the best use of employees’ time.”

Today, Tri City automates the document capture, indexing and filing processes with the following tools:

  • Laserfiche Snapshot converts the electronic documents from the hospital’s FTP site into TIFF images and processes them using Laserfiche Quick Fields, a high-volume document capture and processing tool that automatically extracts metadata from the documents and files them in the Laserfiche repository—no printing or scanning required.
  • Laserfiche Quick Fields also scans and processes paper EOBs and correspondence from insurance companies. Using optical character recognition (OCR), Quick Fields converts the scanned images into editable and searchable text, extracts metadata and files the documents in the repository.
  • Laserfiche Import Agent captures and processes electronic faxes.

Verifiers, coders and payment entry staff work with dual screens, so they’re able to view a document on one screen while performing data entry into MED/FM on the other. With the MED/FM integration, documents are automatically attached to the appropriate patient records in the practice management system. When employees type a number into a specific field in MED/FM, Laserfiche opens the corresponding document. This ensures that employees don’t have to launch Laserfiche or toggle between screens to retrieve the documents they require.

Kruger explains that the integration keeps her staff in their seats. “Laserfiche makes our staff so efficient that we haven’t had to hire more people. In fact, we haven’t even replaced everyone who’s left.”

Visibility = Productivity

Documents—whether scanned or electronically imported—are time-stamped when they enter the Laserfiche repository so that the management team can measure staff productivity. Kruger explains, “If something comes in at eleven but doesn’t get finished until 4:30 pm, I can go to the person and ask, ‘What were you doing for those five and a half hours?’”

Juiliano appreciates how easy it is to run and store reports in Laserfiche. With Laserfiche Audit Trail, a monitoring and reporting tool, Tri City can create summaries of all actions taken on a particular document or record, making it much easier to prove compliance with HIPAA. “We can see who changed what when, where and why,” he explains.

In terms of other types of reports, Juliano says, “We run a lot of reports—collections reports, month-end reports, weekly reports. Even if we don’t run the report in Laserfiche, we store it there, which makes it easy to access and compare historical data with present trends.”

Lisa Newland, Tri City’s Assistant Manager, notes that the group’s RAC audits have gone smoothly thanks to Laserfiche’s instant search-and-retrieval capabilities. “Being able to instantly pull the information the RAC auditors want to see makes life so much easier than digging through filing cabinets or storage boxes.”

All in all, says Kruger, “Laserfiche is a great product. I don’t know how we ever got along without it.”

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Making a Deluge of Documents Disaster-Ready Thu, 19 Jan 2012 21:49:08 +0000 admin “With cemetery records, record-keeping is literally eternal,” says Brian Pellegrin, IS Business Support Manager at Stewart Enterprises, Inc.

As the second largest deathcare provider in the United States, Stewart Enterprises safeguards contracts pertaining to every aspect of funeral or cemetery services, from memorialization and property purchases to inscription details. In the past, when people passed away, contracts from funeral homes and cemeteries were permanently added to the millions of pages of records in each of the company’s regional storage centers.

Although Stewart Enterprises initially considered implementing an enterprise content management (ECM) solution in 2005, it failed to anticipate that its documents might incur damage. Unfortunately, when Hurricane Katrina struck later that year, the company’s New Orleans Records Management Center was hit and tens of thousands of documents were submerged for over a week.

“The hypothetical doomsday scenario became a reality for our organization,” says Pellegrin. “Unfortunately, we were not as forward-thinking at that time as we are now. Rather than accepting an initial ECM proposal for $175,000, we spent $1.5 million recovering and restoring our documents.”

Setting a Document Standard

Despite the loss, the disaster gave the organization the forward velocity it needed to go digital with Laserfiche ECM. “When implementing a new functional area, as soon as I put the Katrina pictures up, everyone is on board,” says Pellegrin. “When you talk about buy-in, it isn’t a hard sell.”

As a direct result of Hurricane Katrina, the company first digitized the records in its New Orleans Records Management Center. Before implementing ECM enterprise-wide, Pellegrin started discovery by physically walking through various company facilities and taking stock of employee processes, paper piles and organization structure—a preliminary step he recommends for anyone beginning a Laserfiche project.

“The sheer volume of documents involved in digitizing a record center astonished me,” he says. “Walk through a variety of departments and ask yourself, would it would be beneficial to management to see the documents and to have real-time tracking for every step in this process?”

These discoveries allowed Pellegrin to seize the opportunity to standardize records management across the company by upgrading to Laserfiche Rio. He rolled out digital archiving to the company’s other records centers in Miami, Dallas and Orlando, as well as individual facilities and corporate offices in 25 states and Puerto Rico.

Configuring Laserfiche Rio across multiple departments and integrating Laserfiche Quick Fields with the company’s contract number system and reporting systems transformed Stewart Enterprises’ Laserfiche ECM system from a simple disaster recovery plan to a flexible, yet central, point of control.

“We’re not looking at an individual person or process, we’re thinking enterprise-wide,” he says of the company’s IT strategy. “What we have noticed as a result of implementing Laserfiche is not only a more efficient process, but a structured workflow that can be implemented nationwide.”

Centralizing Contracts

Because Stewart Enterprises juggles different regulations on its contracts and facilities for every state in which it operates, Pellegrin sought a standard workflow that could track and store documents in compliance with these regulations while still offering fluid access to documentation when adjusting a client’s file.

Laserfiche Rio allowed the company to greatly restructure the contracts workflow. Using the Laserfiche SDK, Pellegrin configured Laserfiche Quick Fields to draw information between the company’s .NET point-of-sale applications and Laserfiche. This integration, along with standardized scanning methods and better quality control, led to much faster processing:

  • 750 field employees now image documentation as .TIFF files onto a national network drive using Canon scanners.
  • Laserfiche Import Agent then transfers those documents from the drive into the Laserfiche repository automatically, day and night.
  • Laserfiche Quick Fields runs a real-time SQL search against the company’s account receivable contract system based on individual contract number.
  • Laserfiche Quick Fields then indexes each document by geographic location, sorts and routes it to separate workflows depending on values identified in the SQL lookup.
  • Users across the regional centers and corporate headquarters can route, process and update contracts using Laserfiche Workflow and Laserfiche Snapshot.

Prior to Laserfiche, these records centers contained vaults full of filing cabinets and shelves of manila folders that a contract research team mined during contract retrieval requests. With this system in place across all facilities, the company has already scanned more than 30 million pages from its document centers into Laserfiche’s digital repositories, repurposing filing cabinets into valuable real estate and saving thousands in paper costs. Now the company can scan, monitor and check the quality of its financial transactions, such as deposits, to better ensure compliance with each state’s regulations.

Enterprise-Sized Gains

Unlocking critical contract information from paper forms brought an unprecedented level of enterprise visibility to the company, which Pellegrin lauds as Laserfiche’s main asset. When Laserfiche Workflow creates a permanent record for storage, it also makes the contracts available for real-time access to over 1,000 employees nationwide via a Laserfiche WebLink Web portal.

Now, users ranging from executive vice presidents to customer service representatives can research the contracts and their indexes and status information with the click of the Laserfiche icon on their desktop.

“Giving real-time, simultaneous access to a variety of functional areas and hierarchies brought immediate value and efficiency to our organization,” explains Pellegrin.

For example, read-only access to contracts for the company’s audit department has eliminated travel costs during audits. The audit group may perform a facility audit without the facility knowing about it, right from their own computers.

“Laserfiche has allowed us to not only standardize our processes, but to easily monitor them as well. We now have access to empirical data about employees indicating efficiency, accuracy and completeness on a real-time basis,” notes Pellegrin.

Stewart Enterprises truly leverages the full scale of Laserfiche Rio, using it for everything from conversion and storage of microfilm records to streamlining and enhancing internal audit processes across the entire company.

“Prior to implementing Laserfiche, I was virtually in the dark with respect to ECM. I didn’t have the slightest idea of the impact this one system could have throughout the organization. We’re changing the culture of our company in a span of three to six months at each record facility.”

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Heartland Advisors Streamlines Research with Laserfiche Tue, 17 Jan 2012 16:11:44 +0000 Hobey Echlin Heartland Advisors, Inc. (“Heartland”) is an independently owned Milwaukee-based firm established in 1983. As of November 30, 2011, the Firm managed approximately $4.9 billion in assets for institutional and high net worth clients and the Heartland family of value-driven mutual funds.

Heartland is an active manager, seeking out those few companies from the broad market they believe fit the criteria of its investment discipline, embodied in Heartland’s Ten Principles of Value Investing™. This discipline is grounded in rigorous fundamental analysis, and has been exercised for over a quarter century. Each stock Heartland is potentially interested in is subject to a thorough review of multiple variables, resulting in a rich legacy of information and understanding of thousands of individual securities. This legacy also results in many pages of information and data!

In addition to research, the Firm has built a substantial file of client related material, going back to the Firm’s inception.

By 2010, decades of paper records had accumulated—much of which, for compliance purposes, required locked cabinets. “Any time we had a company visit, analyst research notes, quarterly company earnings reports, news articles or anything impacting an active company, paper was placed in a general location for administrators to file manually,” explains Mike Riggs, Senior Vice President and CTO of Heartland.

The pile of paper accumulated weekly and could require full days of filing by administrative staff. “We’d already gone through the 20 years’ worth of research, but we were still looking at 1,600 active companies for which we needed to maintain records,” he adds.

The Challenge

While the Firm had a fully developed and tested disaster recovery process for its mission-critical electronic information system, there were limited procedures in place for its paper-based stored files. “Both systems maintained single copy masters which took a large amount of floor and file cabinet space—and a lot of manual paper filing,” Riggs says. “We actually had a legacy scan-and-file system that was not being used because it added to the work load of users.”

Riggs led the Firm on a search for a more comprehensive electronic content management (ECM) system with two directives in mind—function and friendliness. As Riggs puts it, “We needed an intelligent forms processing system where we could develop a forms library to identify and process client-related paperwork, but it also had to be user-friendly.”

The Solution

In 2010, the Firm acquired a Laserfiche ECM system and began an extensive backfile conversion project using Laserfiche Quick Fields for advanced document capture. “For our client filing system, we were able to back scan all of our legacy files into Laserfiche according to form type and then organize the data according to client account code,” Riggs says. Using the Affinity integration tool, the Firm linked its CRM system to the digitized files in the Laserfiche repository using the client access code.

In the past, a sales administration representative would have to leave the phone call or schedule a call back with a client, go to the file cabinet and check out the file data. Now, with online access to the system, they can stay on the call and pull up client data using the shared client access code right from the CRM interface.

At the same time, Riggs notes, the flexibility of Laserfiche allowed him to grant remote, read-only access to staff who need to view files offsite for client servicing issues. “We have only one office but several executives who spend time at remote locations. Laserfiche gives them the opportunity to retrieve files when connected to their computers via a remote session.”

The process that saw the most operational improvement, however, was research. “We used Quick Fields to back scan our rich legacy of stock research, and we used Workflow to develop a way for research and portfolio managers to file directly to the Laserfiche repository,” Riggs says.

Here’s how it works:

  • By utilizing a research template, analysts can drop files into a Workflow starting rule folder to kick off the template to select the research media type.
  • Workflow then routes it to the proper security and media filing type.
  • The workflow will run an SQL query to match the template security with an in-house security holding system to identify the full company name to place on file and route it to the proper Laserfiche research file folder.

“Now compliance, analysts and portfolio managers have ready access to research wherever they are, on-site and remote.”

Going with the Workflow

Heartland is now using Laserfiche and Workflow to deploy an accounts payable processing system that will scan in invoices from vendors, have operations staff identify cost centers and allocations, and then route them to department managers for approval. After the approval is routed back to the operation admin, it will then be posted directly into the accounting system for check processing.

Likewise, Riggs is also using Workflow to develop an automated system for approving marketing material that will handle markup and approval from multiple team members, as the content needs to be monitored for FINRA and SEC guidelines. “It’s a very time and paper intensive process that requires group participation,” Riggs says.

More recently, the Firm upgraded to a Laserfiche Rio enterprise system. “This allows us to have multiple Laserfiche servers, which means we have a mirrored Laserfiche server environment running at our disaster recovery site pointing to a backup copy of our production repository that is replicated to the disaster recovery site daily.” Riggs says he’s also looking forward to deploying Laserfiche Mobile to enable Heartland staff to use iPads to access data securely via Web Access.

By using Laserfiche ECM, the Firm is confident it will achieve its goal of limiting paperwork. Says Riggs, “We hope to build custom Web forms to avoid paper-based system processes that pop up as people develop templates for a variety of management tasks.”

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Laserfiche Rio Reduces Red Tape for Colorado Citizens Tue, 10 Jan 2012 16:32:26 +0000 Meghann Wooster Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was created to oversee the state’s land, mineral, water and wildlife resources. As such, it manages a wealth of information across eight divisions, including:

  • Colorado Division of Forestry.
  • Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.
  • Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety.
  • Colorado Division of Water Resources.
  • Colorado Geological Survey.
  • Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).
  • Colorado State Land Board.
  • Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB).

According to Susan Lesovsky, Application Support Manager for the CWCB, the DNR purchased a Laserfiche enterprise content management (ECM) system in 2005 to replace a legacy IBM system that lacked an out-of-the box Web interface, optical character recognition (OCR) functionality and the ability to automate business processes. “Our old system was pretty much limited to search-and-retrieval,” she explains.

She notes that a top priority for implementing Laserfiche was making it easier for citizens to stay informed about government activities. “Ultimately, our customer is the public, and our success is measured on how we provide and process information for them,” Lesovsky says.

To that end, the DNR upgraded to Laserfiche Rio in 2009. According to Lesovsky, “Laserfiche Rio has allowed us to increase the transparency of information to the public, and it’s done it in such a way that we don’t have to worry about connections or cost.”

In particular, she describes the benefits of upgrading to Laserfiche Rio as:

  • Greater public access to information through the WebLink Public Portal, which provides unlimited connections.
  • Scalability through unlimited servers and volume discounts on user licenses to accommodate future growth.
  • The bundled functionality of Web Access and Workflow.

Laserfiche Rio Enables Citizens to Cut through Red Tape

Lesovsky notes that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recently called for every department in state government to reduce red tape. Good government, he says, is characterized by “efficiency, effectiveness and elegance.”

“As one of only two recommended content management systems for the state, Laserfiche epitomizes all three E’s,” Lesovsky says.

She explains how easy it is for citizens to access documents such as the CWCB’s meeting documents:

  • The current year’s materials are available on the Board’s Website in a table that provides direct links to PDFs stored in Laserfiche.
  • Archived materials are accessible through a custom search box (created using the WebLink Designer) on the lower right side of same page or through this link.
  • The custom search box is limited to three fields (title, date range and document type) to streamline access and reduce user confusion. (Custom search components have been included throughout the CWCB’s Website to help direct the public’s search for Board-related documents.)

Colorado’s Decision Support Systems Website also includes custom search boxes throughout its Website, such as the one at the top of this page that searches according to document type and a few other parameters, while a set of “Google-like” search results based on document type displays below thanks to an encoded URL string.

“We used the WebLink Designer to create custom searches because we noticed that our users would get overwhelmed when presented with a long list of templates and fields,” says Lesovsky. “Each custom search focuses on a particular program area or topic and uses a limited set of search criteria within the associated template.”

Quick, easy and efficient searches support Hickenlooper’s goal of driving the “three E’s” into government operations. Lesovsky explains, “In the past, people had to come to our offices to request information. Laserfiche WebLink provides a simple and elegant way for the public to get immediate access to the information they need whenever they need it.”

Integrations Make ECM “Mission-Critical”

By integrating Laserfiche WebLink with other software applications, the DNR has been able to make information even more accessible. For example, by integrating Laserfiche with ESRI ArcGIS, staff can click on a stream and retrieve associated court documents, while public users can quickly access information associated with flooding and flood hazards in the state.

To see the public-facing integration in action:

  • Visit Colorado’s Flood Decision Support System page.
  • Click on the Flood DSS Map Viewer.
  • Agree to the disclaimer.
  • Click the Documents tab in the top menu.
  • Enter your search criteria in the pop-up window. For example, select:
    • Group: Historical Flooding.
    • Document: Historical flood photographs.
    • Type: Photographs.
  • Hit the search button.
  • A new window displays the results (produced on-the-fly by an encoded URL string) in a grid format.

It’s the integrations with applications like ESRI ArcGIS that make Laserfiche “mission-critical.” According to Lesovsky, “When you integrate Laserfiche with business-specific systems, you embed it into your existing workflow processes and it becomes integral to how you operate.”

ECM Enables Electronic Forms Processing

Laserfiche Rio has been a particularly effective ECM solution for the DNR because different divisions can configure it to meet their unique needs. For example, the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) uses Laserfiche to enable an eForm application that provides an interface for oil and gas operators to enter and submit permit forms and supporting documents. There are currently six active forms and three in development.

According to Ken Robertson, Application Developer for the COGCC, “Uploaded files are stored in our production Web server. Once the operators submit the form to our internal server, we export the attachments to Laserfiche.”

He explains that the public can view the files directly from the production Web server or wait until the files are imported to Laserfiche and use WebLink to access them. Furthermore, he outlines how the COGCC has used the Laserfiche SDK to create customized Laserfiche scripts and programs.

Robertson says, “For those attachments still sitting in our production Web server, we created a Windows service to check queued files in the Web server every 15 minutes and use the Laserfiche Toolkit [SDK] for .NET to import files to the Laserfiche repository server. In the meantime, we also collect the Laserfiche reference numbers in our attachment table so that system (eForm) can provide a WebLink download page for users to view the attachments.”

He notes that there is a separate application that allows oil and gas operators to upload well logs, which are imported into Laserfiche using Laserfiche Import Agent, a tool that captures and processes electronic documents. Scanning staff members use Laserfiche Quick Fields to index other types of electronic documents.

The biggest benefit of processing permits and well logs with Laserfiche is time. Robertson says, “We used to shuffle files from one person to another until they were approved, and then we scanned everything into the system. Having the operators upload their attachments to their documents saves an average of 15 minutes of scanning and indexing time for our staff, not to mention the time saved on data entry.”

He goes on to explain that having everything available electronically at the beginning of the process allows multiple people to work on the same forms simultaneously, further reducing processing time.

“Not only do we save time,” Robertson says, “but the approval process is now more transparent for the public.”

Lesovsky adds, “Laserfiche is powerful, flexible and easy to work with. Even though all our divisions use the same system, we can all use it a little differently.”

Looking Ahead

Lesovsky is particularly excited to use Laserfiche to harvest data across organizations. She explains that the CWCB has already conducted a feasibility study and has a grant in place to make it happen.

“Colorado State University has an ECM solution other than Laserfiche but a healthy collection of water information. The Colorado Water Resources Development & Power Authority and the Colorado River Water Conservation District currently use Laserfiche, with repositories of useful water documents. By hooking our systems together and using common metadata, we’ll be able to search for information across all four entities and gain a more complete picture of accessible water information in the state.”

She says that the DNR is also working on integrating Laserfiche and SharePoint. “Most of our divisions use SharePoint for their external Websites. Right now, people have to conduct separate searches if they want to find content stored in both Laserfiche and SharePoint. What we’re looking to do is enable searches that return results from both systems at the same time.”

All in all, she says, “Laserfiche Rio is a great tool. The bottleneck now is just finding the time to make it do everything we want it to do.”

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Streamlining Service without a Hitch Sat, 07 Jan 2012 00:12:56 +0000 katie United Road Towing doesn’t bat an eye at hauling 100,000 pounds of equipment or recovering off-road vehicles, yet the company hit numerous roadblocks when moving its internal documents. Expensive storage costs and high-volume paper processes impounded the company’s regional operations in Phoenix, AZ with time-consuming, inefficient content management.

The company faced four major challenges:

  • Storage: Lack of space in the office for filing cabinets cost the company $650 a month to rent storage sheds. Temperatures inside the sheds often topped 110 degrees, degrading documents and discouraging retrieval by accounting employees.
  • Decentralized Files: Every vehicle tow resulted in the creation of documents by multiple departments, each with their own filing methods—which meant accounting employees had to contact at least three departments to complete a vehicle file. From gathering vehicle photos from the sales department and inspections from the vehicle storage facility to tracking down titles in the title department, staff spent more time searching than billing.
  • Security: Transferring files among departments compromised security and led to a proliferation of outdated copies.
  • Customer Service: Spread-out storage and misfiled contracts made it difficult to deliver towing contracts to customers by 2:00 p.m. on the day following a tow, as outlined in vendor contracts.

“The vehicle could sometimes be moved to another storage or auction facility, and sometimes the files would not get to the new vehicle storage location,” notes Sheila Gallegos, project manager at United Road Towing.

The company put out a request for proposals for an enterprise content management (ECM) product that could:

  • Quickly and easily scan documents.
  • Read vehicle barcodes and file documents with minimal human effort.
  • Perform quality checks on barcoded scans.

After reviewing RFP responses, United Road Towing saw that Laserfiche could easily set a company-wide standard to transition it away from inefficient paper-based processes.

“Laserfiche was the easiest to understand and the most user-friendly by far. Quick Fields and Workflow sessions were doing most the work, instead of our staff,” says Gallegos. “Most importantly, Laserfiche was an enterprise software solution, whereas the other vendors had to piece together other products to create the solution we were looking for.”

Gallegos led a three-month installation and in-depth training process which brought 73 employees in seven departments and seven locations—as well as 23 vendors—onto the Laserfiche system.

“Laserfiche has helped us streamline our processes, and it also helps us make sure that the processes are standardized from location to location,” she says.

Giving the Green Light to Better Records Management

The first step for United Road Towing was standardizing the documentation process from the time a vehicle hitches to a tow truck to when it leaves the tow lot—which brought immediate improvements in customer service and employee efficiency.

A custom integration between Quick Fields, Workflow and the company’s towing software now takes data from vehicle barcodes, driver invoices and customer-submitted documents across many departments for cradle-to-grave records management.

Because the towing software doesn’t contain an open database, the company worked with Laserfiche to create a custom Workflow script with an HTTP post. The script automatically pulls information from the towing software to fill in additional data in Quick Fields.

As outlined below, records management is now much simpler and more consistent:

  • When the company tows a vehicle, the truck driver places a barcode sticker on the vehicle to identify it in the vehicle inventory and places a barcode sheet in the storage reports.
  • Storage facility staff scans the barcode sheets into Laserfiche.
  • Quick Fields reads the barcodes, places the inventory number into a field and saves the storage report in the Laserfiche repository.
  • The custom Workflow script runs a session that searches the towing database using the barcode. Quick Fields then fills in additional template fields with retrieved information about the vehicle, such as the vehicle’s make, model, year and VIN number, as well as customer information and invoice and payment dates.
  • When all fields are complete, the Workflow session electronically files the documents by tow date.

With the automated system, the average user can process five documents a minute. Each day, the company as a whole can easily process 1,500 customer documents and 500 driver invoices.

WebLink Revs Up Customer Service

The integration has also improved the availability of customer documents within the contractual one-day grace period. Prior to Laserfiche, one employee would collect 200 documents a day from the accounting department, scan the documents into a network folder, rename all the documents, move the documents to an FTP folder and then make the documents available to customers on a Website in PDF form. This time-intensive process often resulted in late documents and $75 in vendor fines for each delayed delivery.

With Laserfiche WebLink, an automated process ensures that customers can view documents on the same day of the tow—many hours before the deadline.

  • When a towed vehicle is added to the storage inventory, storage facility employees scan documents from the drivers along with customer-supplied paperwork like driver licenses into a network folder.
  • From the network folder, Quick Fields brings the documents into the Laserfiche repository and identifies the documents by reading their barcodes.
  • The custom Workflow session retrieves the vehicle information from the towing software using the barcodes, and Quick Fields completes the template fields.
  • The accounting office then e-mails digital invoice copies to customers.
  • Quick Fields files the documents and automatically makes relevant documents, such as storage reports, driver licenses, private party impounds and pre-tow pictures of the vehicles, available for customers via WebLink.
  • Customers can view the files related to their tow with an assigned, secure login.

This fast flow of information empowers United Road Towing as well as the customer. The customer may view the document on the same day as the tow, and United Road Towing now:

  • Saves half a pallet of paper (50 boxes) per month.
  • Eliminates $650 a month in off-site storage costs.
  • No longer needs to train storage employees on a formerly laborious customer service process.

“In the past, a dedicated staff person spent eight hours completing this process. Now, it only takes 30 minutes to verify all the documents that were scanned,” says Gallegos.

Overhauled Processes Bring Big Benefits

United Road Towing counts centralized data as the most basic gain from Laserfiche, which has completely eliminated the company’s reliance on a carrier to move documents from remote sites to the main office.

The rewards multiply when it comes to customer satisfaction. “Now anyone who answers the phone can answer inquiries about the status of a vehicle by doing a simple search in Laserfiche,” notes Gallegos. “We used to have to transfer calls to the storage lot where the vehicle was stored.”

The company’s five storage facilities follow the same procedures, but the company can shift tasks around depending on the available employees and their skill levels. For example, when a customer calls requesting paperwork from their insurance company to release the vehicle to a body shop or the police department inquires after proof of ownership forms, dispatch staff can now look up the related information in Laserfiche instead of relying on lot staff.

More employees can be cross-trained to complete work in multiple departments. Whenever the staff has downtime, employees input and check metadata in Laserfiche from any documents that don’t include barcodes. Recently, the company even changed its file clerk positions into quality assurance roles.

With Audit Trail, Gallegos can run a report that outlines which employees have accessed certain documents. Every month, she uses the report to check productivity and conduct any back-training
for employees based on their efficiency.

United Road Towing is close to completing an expansion to the corporate office in Illinois. Instead of spending money on overnight mailing costs, the company will now digitally send Department of Transportation documents to corporate employees via WebLink.

Other plans for growing United Road Towing’s Laserfiche system include:

  • Using the Laserfiche Mobile iPad app to digitize the signed agreement binders that tow drivers currently carry in paper form. Capturing and storing the most current authorization forms will ensure that drivers remain in compliance with local regulations.
  • Working with municipalities to write laws that standardize the authorizations needed to tow a vehicle and giving cities access to signed agreements via WebLink.
  • Expanding the Laserfiche system to 11 additional sites to further standardize procedures and bring cradle-to-grave records management to the rest of the company.

“Laserfiche has helped to ensure that processes are consistent throughout the company while allowing us to improve processes and gain efficiencies,” Gallegos says. “It’s one of the best investments we’ve ever made.”

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U.S. Supreme Court Looks to Arkansas Appellate Courts for Forward-Thinking Use of IT Mon, 05 Dec 2011 22:09:13 +0000 Meghann Wooster “People don’t typically associate Arkansas with the cutting edge,” explains Daron Frederick, Network Administrator for the Arkansas Supreme Court. “That’s why it’s such a pleasure to have the U.S. Supreme Court looking to us for ideas about the unique and innovative ways we are implementing technology.”

Although both Arkansas’ supreme court and court of appeals have recently begun broadcasting—and archiving—live oral arguments on their Website, it is the courts’ use of enterprise content management (ECM) technology that has caught the Supreme Court’s eye.

“We’d had a document imaging system in place for several years, but it hadn’t been used much,” says Frederick. “Only a few techs even knew how to access it, and the search and retrieval capability for records wasn’t particularly useful. We had to ask ourselves, ‘Why scan anything if you can’t use the system?’”

He continues, “Our principal selection criteria for an ECM solution included the ability to manage content, automate processes, enable easy access to records and raise visibility for the legal community and the public.”

He notes that, ultimately, it was the unlimited servers included with Laserfiche Rio that won over the courts’ IT Department. “Both courts issue opinions of high interest that are heavily accessed, so we wanted to make sure we had failovers and test servers in place to accommodate that.”

Laserfiche Enables Electronic Opinions

In 2009, Arkansas became the first state to establish electronic reporting as the official medium for appellate court opinions. Substantial cost savings resulting from the transition provided the opportunity to implement Laserfiche.

“Before that, the appellate court opinions had always been officially reported in bound volumes,” says Frederick. “However, the volumes were produced and distributed approximately four times a year, which meant there was significant lag time between issuance of an opinion and its appearance in its official format.”

With declining subscription rates, higher production costs and advancing technology, the court determined that its current method of publication was no longer acceptable. “Although court systems in general have been slow to enter the digital age, we have to remember that we work for the public, and they’re used to finding information quickly on the Internet,” explains Frederick.

“One of the driving forces that led to the implementation of Laserfiche was to provide the official version of the opinions to everyone free of cost. The substantial savings realized by terminating the bound volume method was also a considerable advantage,” he says.

Using Laserfiche WebLink, a Web portal that provides instant, read-only access to documents over the Internet, the Arkansas Supreme Court and Arkansas Court of Appeals publish their latest opinions in PDF format on their Website.

“Most court records and paper copies of opinions are retained indefinitely,” notes Frederick. “In addition, we are required by statute to keep three copies of each bound volume; the final published volume count was 375 when we made the transition. From that standpoint, the storage of electronic records is far more efficient.”

In terms of search and retrieval, “metadata is a gift,” Frederick says. The Reporter of Decisions established the courts’ file structure, templates and fields, which allow anyone to access the opinions using one or more of the following criteria:

  • Date.
  • Court.
  • Order number.
  • Justice/Judge.
  • Session.
  • Session term.

Current Integrations, Future Plans

After enabling live video streaming by implementing a Granicus software solution, the court integrated it with Laserfiche to enable the public and legal community to access archived video footage along with a copy of the opinion tied to the case in question. “We’ve made great efforts to become more transparent,” says Frederick. “By integrating Granicus with Laserfiche, we’ve created a comprehensive digital public record that’s accessible to anyone over the Web.”

The court is currently working on integrating Laserfiche with its court management system (CMS) so that court personnel can access documents stored in Laserfiche when they’re viewing a particular case in the CMS.

Although the courts haven’t yet taken full advantage of Laserfiche Workflow, a business process management tool included with Laserfiche Rio, they may use Workflow to route drafts of their opinions to:

  • The deciding panel (court of appeals, typically three judges) for review and annotations.
  • The Reporter of Decisions for editing, publication and retention.

“Flow is a big buzzword right now, so knowing that we can use Laserfiche to automate more of our processes presents tremendous possibilities,” says Frederick.

Change Management Methodology for Curing “Parchment Disorder”

“One thing I’ve noticed after working in IT across a variety of industries is that the public sector is a little more cautious when it comes to adopting new technology,” says Frederick. “Some people still get comfort in being able to touch a piece of paper, so educating and training everyone on the value of Laserfiche has been interesting.”

In terms of change management, Frederick’s philosophy is that history always denotes the future. “As we were moving to electronic publication, we focused on the input from the Reporter of Decisions and the parameters set by the supreme court. Full integration would have been more easily put in place had we also gotten input from the court about the opinion writing process upfront.”

As Frederick and his team prepare to use Laserfiche to enable attorneys to e-file briefs and other documents that make up the appellate court record, they are training the judges, judicial clerks and administrative assistants first. “The better we understand what each court needs, the more successful the transition will be,” he says.

Frederick explains that e-filing will eliminate the need for lawyers to bring 16 copies of their briefs to court. More importantly, it will allow both courts to quickly find specific pieces of information contained within those briefs, thanks to chapter and marker breaks within electronic briefs, as well as Laserfiche’s sophisticated search capabilities.

“Digitizing will lower our costs and increase our clearance rates,” says Frederick. “Training people ahead of time is a key factor for recognizing the value that Laserfiche has to offer.”

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Long Beach Uses Technology to Cost-effectively Deliver Cutting-edge Citizen Services Mon, 07 Nov 2011 22:53:41 +0000 Meghann Wooster With unemployment rates hovering around 10%, stocks subject to wild swings and experts unable to agree whether the country is likely to dip into a double recession, cities across the country are being forced to confront deeper and deeper budget cuts.

Located just outside of Los Angeles, CA, the City of Long Beach turned to technology to cut costs—and create innovative ways to improve citizen service delivery. In fact, Long Beach has been so successful at leveraging technology that it has just been named one of the top ten digital cities in the U.S. with a population of 250,000 or more by the Center for Digital Government.

“The City of Long Beach takes great pride in our use of technology to be more efficient and make City Hall more accessible and responsive to the community,” says Mayor Bob Foster.

According to Curtis Tani, Director of Technology Services, the effort to reduce costs without compromising service delivery has been three-pronged:

  • Consolidate information and communication technology (ICT) services.
  • Increase transparency and collaboration across the enterprise.
  • Digitize processes, forms and workflow.

“The Mayor, the City Council and City staff understood the value that technology could bring the city and were open to change at the foundational level to allow Long Beach to become a technology leader,” says Tani. “They understood that the shortfalls in our budget challenged operational efficiencies and gave the Technology Services Department the freedom to lead initiatives to make Long Beach a digital community.”

IT’s Strategy: Consolidate and Standardize

Long Beach has worked hard to consolidate technology functions to create budget efficiencies while still providing enough flexibility for each department to run efficiently. “By bringing our IT staff into one office and centralizing IT oversight, we’ve been able to decrease overall staffing costs as well as the number of overlapping technology investments,” Tani explains.

For example, in 2009, Long Beach chose to replace its existing IBM FileNet system in various departments with a Laserfiche enterprise content management (ECM) system that could be used across the city. “We selected Laserfiche to create more consistency, efficiency and transparency, while saving the city many thousands of dollars in equipment and maintenance fees,” Tani says.

In fact, by implementing a single Laserfiche system, the city cut its annual ECM support costs by 50%. “Our strategy is to implement shared services to capitalize on existing funding and consolidate services,” explains Tani. “Our ECM system is just one example of this.”

Other cost-saving IT consolidation efforts include:

  • A new, enterprise-wide Internet-based phone system expected to generate $165,000 in annual savings.
  • Virtual servers and workstations expected to generate $100,000 in energy and hardware savings over three years.
  • Cluster databases that have reduced licensing and hardware fees.

ECM and Open Government

In April 2011, the Long Beach City Council adopted an open government policy identifying transparency as a core function of local government. To that end, making information more accessible by staff and citizens alike has been a top priority.

“Long Beach is dedicated to fostering and promoting open and transparent government where everyone in our community can easily participate and be engaged,” explains Long Beach City Clerk Larry Herrera. “As one of the largest cities in California, we are committed to exploring best practices, adopting new technologies that simplify and speed up all work processes and providing a level of customer service that is unmatched.”

Herrera notes that the City Clerk’s office uses Laserfiche to streamline paperwork and processes, helping the city deliver higher service at a lower cost. “In 2002, we needed 28 people to provide the public with quick, accurate and effective answers to their questions about our community. Today, with a staff of 17, our level of customer service is better than ever before.”

Over the past year and a half, the city has spent approximately $120,000 for offsite record storage. Staff had to manually retrieve paper records to answer requests, leading to delays in service and extra costs. As more and more records are added to Laserfiche, information access is improved and storage costs are expected to decrease.

On a daily basis, the City Clerk’s office scans thousands of records into Laserfiche. Just a few of the document types available in Laserfiche include:

  • City contracts.
  • Campaign finance reports.
  • Statements of economic interest.
  • Council agendas and staff reports.
  • Election ballots.
  • Sample ballots.
  • Voted returns.

Last spring, the city made all city contracts executed as of the first of the year available to the public through Laserfiche WebLink, a read-only public portal. With 24/7 online viewing access, city residents, contractors and employees no longer have to submit public records act (PRA) requests for these items, simplifying access and saving time for both requestors and the City Clerk’s staff.

ECM across the Enterprise

In addition to the City Clerk’s office, the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) relies heavily on Laserfiche, using the ECM system to make information such as gang injunctions, citations, restraining orders, field interview cards and accident reports available to officers in their patrol cars.

LBPD Police Chief Jim McDonnell notes that since implementing an improved gang injunction system using Laserfiche, gang violence in Long Beach has decreased. In 2010, the first year of using the new gang injunction system, gang-related murders dropped by 53.8%. “By pairing technology with optimized policies and procedures, we’ve been able to reduce violent crime in the face of severe budget constraints. Our officers were able to spend less time on administrative tasks and reinvest this time to keeping the streets safe.”

According to Jonathan Stafford, Administrator of LBPD’s Records and Technology Division, “We were delighted when the city decided to standardize on Laserfiche. We were confident that the simplicity and flexibility of the system would enable us to be more efficient by streamlining our processes.”

Other departments that have undergone concerted efforts to digitize paper processes include:

  • Financial Management.
  • Human Resources.
  • Development Services.

For example, in 2011 the city expanded the types of permits and licenses that can be obtained online via the Website to include garage sale permits, temporary preferential parking permits, oversized vehicle parking permits and pet licenses. Technology Services also developed an interactive Fees and Charges Web application that allows the public to easily search for fees based on department, activity or keyword.

Long Beach began streamlining its accounting processes by integrating Laserfiche with its business intelligence (BI) system. Through the integration, images of the accounts payable invoices managed in Laserfiche are available to authorized users through the BI interface. This streamlines the process of researching expenditures by eliminating the need to manually pull the physical copies of the invoices.

Long Beach City Manager Pat West explains, “Our goal is to virtualize and streamline the access and flow of records and information within the city, while ensuring security. We have been pleased with the Laserfiche system, because it easily expands and adapts to the technological and human factor needs of various departments while providing central control that is needed to ensure accountability.”

Elements of Success

According to Tani, “All the right elements were aligned for the success of our technology initiatives. City leadership, staff and citizens were onboard with the transition and willing to go above and beyond to make our efforts to centralize and standardize Long Beach’s approach to technology successful.”

In addition to the Laserfiche projects outlined above, a few of the innovative ways the citizens of Long Beach can now use technology include:

  • Submitting service requests for sidewalk, graffiti and pothole repair through Long Beach’s Website or via the city’s iPhone and Android apps.
  • Watching live and archived City Council meetings on the Internet, iPhone or iPad.
  • Obtaining time-sensitive information such as road closures or missing persons from the police via Web, social media, live text and/or e-mail alerts.
  • Using social media to access enhanced content including traffic and construction alerts, videos, news, pictures and other information.

Tani also notes that having buy-in from the community was essential to the city’s IT transformation. “We had overwhelmingly positive responses to different application launches—both from the media and end users.” He explains that the media provided ample coverage of different applications and technology tools for both public safety and general city services, and that the community was willing to try the new applications and processes and provide their feedback.

“Ultimately, increasing the dialogue between city officials and the community is what has given the city’s technology initiatives energy and poised them for success and sustainability,” he says.

As a result of the collaboration between city leadership, staff and citizens, Long Beach has used technology to position itself as a leader for the future.

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ECM’s Tipping Point for Enterprise Adoption Tue, 04 Oct 2011 16:58:55 +0000 Meghann Wooster Ed Yonker joined the Franklin County IT Department in 2004, after spending many years in the banking industry. “Government is a different world,” he explains. “Because of its size and structure, it’s a lot harder to implement new technology and get everyone on the same page.”

With approximately 150,000 residents, Franklin County comprises 52 different departments, including the Commissioners’ Office, Human Resources, Human Services and Risk Management, to name just a few. Yonker notes that these departments “operate like 52 separate businesses under the same umbrella.”

In this kind of environment, it’s especially important to establish enterprise-wide IT standards to promote consistency and cross-departmental collaboration, Yonker says. However, it’s often difficult to find technology that’s agile enough to meet the needs of many different departments and flexible enough to adapt quickly and cost-effectively to changing conditions.

“It’s hard to convince all the different departments that they can all use the same system,” says Yonker. “Because of that, we didn’t start out thinking Laserfiche was going to be enterprise technology. But after the enterprise content management seed was planted in one department, suddenly all our departments wanted to know more.”

The Beginning

Franklin County first purchased Laserfiche back in 2001. “We had some younger Commissioners come in, and they were more familiar with technology and the benefits it could have for Franklin County than previous Commissions had been,” explains Jean Byers, deputy chief clerk in the Commissioners’ Office. “They selected Laserfiche for its instant search capabilities, as well as the fact that we could install it directly on the computers already in use.”

She continues, “We immediately realized tremendous benefits from Laserfiche. Documents that used to take days to find became available with the click of a button. It used to take hours to find specific text within meeting minutes that were hundreds of pages long, but with Laserfiche it only took seconds.”

The new technology also made it easy to share documents with colleagues, and due to a similar look and feel as Windows, Laserfiche quickly became popular with both management and staff.

The Evolution of an Enterprise Standard

As Laserfiche took root in the Commissioners’ Office, other departments began to take notice. With their focus on compliance and prudent financial management, both the Fiscal Office and the Controller’s Office deployed Laserfiche in 2004.

“Laserfiche is great for accounts payable (A/P) functions and auditing,” says Yonker. “For A/P, instant document retrieval speeds and simplifies the review and approval of invoices. And with electronically stored documents, employees can quickly and easily pull the files needed to satisfy an auditor’s request, with no need to spend hours digging through file cabinets. That’s a pretty impressive efficiency boost right there.”

Yonker notes that rolling Laserfiche out to additional departments was an easier sell than other system expansions because there was buy-in from the top right from the start.

“Whenever County purchases exceed a certain amount, they need to be approved by the Commissioners,” he explains. “Because the Commissioners were already very familiar with the value of using Laserfiche, they never hesitated to give the go-ahead when other departments wanted to get on board.”

The next departments to raise their hands and ask for Laserfiche were Human Services, which was particularly excited about Laserfiche from a disaster recovery standpoint, and Human Resources. Both departments implemented the software in 2006.

Human Resources

The first thing the HR department did after implementing Laserfiche was to start scanning personnel files into the system. It took some time to develop an appropriate folder structure that separated employees’ employment records from their confidential medical records and discipline files, and then it took about a year to get everything scanned in.

“We probably spent between 4-6 months in the planning phase, but getting those personnel files into Laserfiche properly has had an enormous payback for us,” says John Aguirre, Director of HR at Franklin County.

A few of the benefits include:

  • Reduced paper consumption. “We used to photocopy 100,000s of pages of job applications a year for review by our elected officials,” says Aguirre. “We almost never make hard copies of documents anymore since our officials have access to everything they need in Laserfiche.”
  • Instant search and retrieval. “The ability to locate documents quickly is great for me,” explains Aguirre. “Not a day goes by that I don’t get a request from one of our directors for material from an employee’s personnel file for various purposes. Laserfiche makes it easy for me to satisfy their requests and quickly e-mail them exactly what they need to see.”
  • Higher staff productivity. “With Laserfiche, we can do more with less and accomplish more functions with the remaining staff, which is important in this economy. When one of our part-time HR reps left the County, we didn’t need to find a replacement because Laserfiche makes everybody more efficient. Retrieving documents is as easy as opening a Web page.”
  • Reduced need for document storage. “Prior to implementing Laserfiche, we had a large ‘Electreiver’ file cabinet in the office that stored approximately 1,500 files and rotated them on chains. It was always breaking down and causing us headaches. Once we started digitizing our documents, we were able to get rid of that monster, along with five standing file cabinets. We now use that space for our receptionist’s desk and our Laserfiche scanner, so our office is much less cramped,” says Aguirre.
  • Easier audits. “Auditors love Laserfiche because it’s so fast and easy to use. It’s also clear to them that we’re meeting compliance mandates with regards to our folder structure and the security surrounding confidential medical records, etc. In addition, my department no longer has to stop working in order to organize for the audits.”

Aguirre notes that in addition to managing personnel files in Laserfiche, his department has also added recruitment documentation and union and arbitration files to the system, which has led to quicker resolution of some grievances. In addition, HR is currently most of the way through scanning employees’ benefits files and leave of absence documents into the repository, and it has recently started on payroll documentation.

“Laserfiche is so secure in terms of access rights and privileges that we’re comfortable using it for everything we’ve got,” Aguirre says. “For example, I’m the only person in the HR Department who can view the union files, and I’m also the only one with deletion rights. I know that unauthorized staff can’t see confidential information, and I know that no one’s going to tamper with our files. The role-based security provides real peace of mind.”

Laserfiche Rolls across the Enterprise

With some technologies, organizations hit a tipping point for enterprise adoption. For Franklin County, that tipping point for Laserfiche was the implementation in HR.

“After HR deployed Laserfiche, everybody started to ask for it,” Yonker recounts. “People saw how successful the HR implementation was, and they began to talk about what the benefits for their departments could be.”

As Laserfiche was adopted by more and more departments, the types of content stored in the system grew more and more diverse:

  • Emergency Services uses Laserfiche to manage notes from its 911 calls and cases.
  • Franklin County Jail stores inmate records and requests in the Laserfiche repository.
  • Planning, which is tasked with fostering the proper growth of communities within Franklin County, manages new development records with Laserfiche.
  • Open Records, with its goal of making government transparent to County citizens, makes plans, drafts and studies stored in Laserfiche available to the public.
  • Real Estate manages audit reports and past voting results using the ECM system. It is also able to respond to 13,000 queries a week in a fast and efficient manner thanks to Laserfiche’s ability to e-mail digital documents.

With 26 departments already using Laserfiche, Franklin County recently upgraded to Laserfiche Rio to bring 24 additional departments onto the system. According to Yonker, “Court Administration will be the last big department to make the transition, and we’re going to integrate Laserfiche with the state’s case management system for them.”

Although the IT Department had not initially planned to implement Laserfiche as the county-wide standard for ECM, it’s now grateful to have that consistency in place. “We got rid of a couple departments’ antiquated imaging systems in order to move them onto Laserfiche, which makes my staff more efficient because it only has to administer the one ECM system. It’s also easier from a user training perspective, since everybody’s using the same thing,” Yonker says.

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Ramsey County Revamps Case Management Tue, 06 Sep 2011 22:08:17 +0000 Meghann Wooster Ramsey County, the second most populous county in Minnesota, has always worked hard to provide the best service at the lowest possible cost to its taxpayers. But as the nation reeled from the recession that began in 2008, it became clear to the county that it needed to better leverage technology if it wanted to continue providing high-quality services without exceeding its budget.

According to Rochelle Waldoch, Compliance and Records Manager at Ramsey County, the need for more efficient paper-based business processes drove the county to investigate enterprise content management (ECM). “The Human Services Department had always been a paper-heavy department, but as caseloads grew, we started having difficulty with sharing paper files. In addition, client information was siloed, so employees had to collect the same data over and over again. It wasn’t an efficient process, and it needed to change.”

She notes, however, that the county wasn’t interested in deploying a departmental ECM solution. “If the Information Services Department was going to invest the time and resources in implementing ECM, the solution we chose needed to provide a standard systems architecture and methodology for managing all types of documents across the county—not just in one department.”

Needs Analysis and Selection Process

To that end, Waldoch and Toyia Arvin, EDMS Business Analyst, worked with county staff to analyze business processes and document needs in every department. This analysis included:

  • Interviews with more than 500 county employees.
  • Document inventories completed by each department.
  • A review of each department’s network shared folder directory structures.
  • An inventory of software applications used by each department.

Armed with the results of the needs analysis, Waldoch and Arvin authored the county’s RFP. “Prior to implementing Laserfiche, we were using the DocuWare system to store a variety of document types, but it didn’t have the advanced workflow or capture functionality necessary to streamline business processes enterprise-wide,” explains Waldoch.

In terms of the selection process, Arvin says, “Laserfiche was beyond impressive when we were doing our RFP. Laserfiche Rio offered a familiar, Windows-like interface for our users; included all of the components we needed to achieve ECM success across the county, including Workflow, Records Management and unlimited servers; and received excellent recommendations when we did our reference checks.”

Central Control, Departmental Flexibility

Ramsey County implemented a 2,000-user Laserfiche Rio system in the summer of 2010. It is supported centrally by a four-person team within the IS Department. To date, the team has transferred more than eight million documents stored in the old DocuWare system to Laserfiche and brought a variety of departments onboard, including:

  • Administrative
    o Boards and Committees. Documents such as agendas, ordinances and proclamations are OCRed and stored in Laserfiche, streamlining search.
    o Budgeting and Accounting. Using DataNOW Affinity, Laserfiche is integrated with ASPEN (PeopleSoft) accounting software. Users can locate transactions in ASPEN and then automatically index, store and/or retrieve associated documents.
    o Human Resources. Personnel files are managed in Laserfiche. Laserfiche security restricts file access to authorized users.
  • Elections. Laserfiche allows the department to save staff time and money on tasks such as making copies, redacting private information and responding to public data requests.
  • Human Services. Laserfiche streamlines case management for divisions such as Child Care, Financial Assistance Services and Workforce Solutions.

Waldoch and Arvin note that the Elections and Administrative implementations have gone smoothly. “Because there was an election recount coming up, Elections employees did their homework before their initial meeting with us. They brought a lot of document samples and mapped out what kind of folder structure they wanted, which documents would need to be barcoded, what information would need to be redacted and so on,” says Arvin.

“Because of that, we were able to get them up and running in a week,” she adds. “Working with Crabtree, we’d do a build, show it to them that day, and then tweak it based on their feedback. They’d been thorough upfront with their planning, so there weren’t a lot of changes that needed to be made.”

Efficient Case Management Commences

Implementation in Human Services, which started out with a 75-user pilot project (including 28 case managers), has taken a little more time. “Elections is a small department with a limited number of document types,” explains Waldoch. “Human Services, on the other hand, is a huge department with hundreds of users and hundreds of forms—and a heavy need for Workflow.”

To determine how to configure the Client repository that Human Services uses, Arvin sat down with key Human Services employees to better understand their processes. “Subject matter experts in each of the three areas of the pilot analyzed their current folder structure by reviewing case files. Together, we analyzed the tabs contained in the paper files and came up with a nine-sided file structure that could meet the needs of all the various Human Services divisions,” she says.

“The goal of implementing Laserfiche within Human Services is to allow case workers to collect information from clients once and share it electronically throughout all program areas,” explains Waldoch. “Electronic client files decrease delays in processing benefits since case workers have, via Workflow, near-immediate knowledge of document receipt.

“In addition, supervisors have greater visibility into the workload and productivity of their employees. With Laserfiche, they’re able to run queries showing them what’s being processed and what’s still waiting in the queue.”

Also adding to the department’s increased efficiency is an integration using LincWare’s LincDoc to create a Case Creation Form for the Client repository. “LincDoc makes two calls—one to a State system (SMI) and one to a County system (CAFÉ) —to pull the information needed to create a new case in Laserfiche,” Arvin says. “Automating this process saves staff time.”

After a case is created, it goes through the following steps:

  • The case receives “Appointment Pending” status in Laserfiche. When the client arrives for the appointment, CAFÉ alerts the worker to the arrival. An intake worker assigns the case to him- or herself by changing a template field, and Workflow routes the file to that person’s New Cases Queue.
  • The intake worker meets with the client to collect additional information. Once the information has been captured into Laserfiche, Workflow routes the case to Case Assignment, where a clerk assigns the case to the ongoing case worker.
  • Workflow sends a New Case Notification to the ongoing worker, who “acknowledges” the case by changing a template field. The case is then visible in the worker’s Active Cases queue. The worker then manages the case for ongoing benefits.
  • Once a case is closed, its status is changed from “Active” to “Closed,” and the case is routed to the Records Department for long-term retention.

Arvin notes that creating workflows for Human Services wasn’t as simple as she’d first imagined. “The biggest lesson I learned is that you shouldn’t try to replicate paper processes in an electronic workflow. We built a workflow this way only to find out that a chunk of it was unnecessary, so we had to ask the Laserfiche engineers to go back and build it again.”

In terms of additional functionality, the IS team is currently in the process of enabling electronic signatures, electronic forms and barcoding, all of which will simplify working with Human Services clients.

In terms of additional Human Services divisions, the team is working to:

  • Transition 340 Financial Assistance Services employees from read-only to full-client users, allowing them to expand their use of the system beyond search and retrieval.
  • Integrate Laserfiche (via DataNOW Affinity) with MAXIS, the state-based case management system.
  • Integrate Laserfiche with vxVista, the Mental Health Center’s electronic health system, so that users can automatically retrieve information from Laserfiche while looking at patient cases in vxVista.

“Although we have a long way to go before we’d consider Human Services a mature Laserfiche implementation, we’re definitely on the right track,” Waldoch says.

Change Management Methodology

“A lot of counties have to force content management into their departments, but we don’t have that problem here, due in large part to our extensive training program,” Arvin explains.

For the Human Services Department, the Laserfiche team involved all pilot participants in the project from early on. “The more involved people are in designing their own solutions, the more bought-in they’ll be when it comes time to use it,” she says. “We also had some strong advocates who’d previously worked in other counties that use ECM, so that was certainly a stroke in our favor.”

Once the Laserfiche pilot had been implemented, non-pilot employees started receiving information from Laserfiche on disk so that they’d become familiar with the way information was organized and presented. The team also created a lot of training documentation (available online), including videos of how to perform tasks in Laserfiche featuring the cast of The Flintstones. “Just because something is technical doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it,” Waldoch says. “If people are laughing, they’re paying attention.”

In-person training classes are conducted by unit, so that employees see the information and steps that are relevant to them. When needed, the Laserfiche team conducts individual training sessions as well. The Laserfiche team also plans to create a county-wide Laserfiche User Group to facilitate knowledge sharing between departments in the future.

Future Plans

Although Laserfiche is currently being used by several departments to enhance internal productivity, in the future, Ramsey County wants to use Laserfiche to directly help its citizens as well. It plans to do this by making information available to its constituents via a public portal, increasing transparency, and also by giving constituents the ability to complete and submit forms online. “We’re here to serve the public,” Waldoch explains. “We want them to get as much benefit from Laserfiche as our staff does.”

In conclusion, Waldoch says, “Laserfiche is a powerful enterprise system that’s already having a great impact in a number of departments.”

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Paperless and Purposeful Thu, 18 Aug 2011 15:30:31 +0000 Hobey Echlin Northern Michigan’s Muskegon County Community Mental Health Services (MCCMHS) implemented its Avatar practice management system back in 2003 to automate electronic health records (EHR). Although the Avatar system had a document imaging module that could digitize the patient histories, lab reports and documents that would always require doctor and patient signatures, several of the county’s non-clinical departments—including HR and Finance—were also contending with overflowing file cabinets and rising storage and handling costs.

Rather than implementing separate solutions for the clinical and non-clinical sides of the house, MCCMHS officials recognized that enterprise content management (ECM) would be the most efficient and cost-effective way to answer its document-related challenges.

ECM Supports EHR

MCCMHS’ search brought the organization to Jeff Nelson of Bolt Document Management, a Laserfiche reseller based in Elkhart, IN. “Initially the objective was for the Laserfiche system to act as a bridge between legacy information and future digital content,” Nelson remembers. “At the same time, implementation of Laserfiche allowed MCCMHS to address areas where working with paper was simply inefficient.”

In 2003 Pat Latimer, the former project manager, led the effort to implement a 118-user Laserfiche system in the agency’s centralized scanning bureau. Staff began migrating and adding patient histories and signature forms for use in conjunction with patient records, which were being generated from Avatar by Crystal Reports and then scanned into Laserfiche.

Dave McElfish, Director of Technology, says that although the original idea was for clinical staff to simultaneously access patient information from Laserfiche and the practice management system, “the reality was, even though we purchased Avatar with the idea of integrating it with Laserfiche, when we explored it further, it was going to be cost prohibitive on the Avatar side of the project.”

In the meantime, Laserfiche deployment had been extended to MCCMHS’s HR and finance departments, which likewise began migrating backfiles to ease storage costs and give staff the ability to retrieve information on command. System use has since grown to the point that the Laserfiche repository now houses over 800,000 documents.

More recently, McElfish says clinical staff have once again expressed interest in being able to access to information from Avatar and Laserfiche at the same time, even going so far as to revisit the idea of using Avatar’s add-on imaging module. “After much consideration, our clinical staff felt that would put us no further ahead in our goal for a true, single database to model our EHR from,” McElfish says. “The reality is that Laserfiche is designed to manage unstructured data, so in that respect it’s closer to that single database because we are able to include unstructured data, such as lab reports and doctor’s notes.”

Going Mobile

McElfish adds that MCCMHS has been speaking with Nelson and Bolt to explore ways to simplify and streamline how data is entered and accessed between Avatar and Laserfiche. McElfish says staff is especially encouraged by the release of Laserfiche Mobile, which could be used to grant clinical staff in the field comprehensive access to patient data via Web Access. He says several options are being considered, including taking advantage of the Laserfiche Q3 Promotion to upgrade the agency’s current system to Laserfiche Avante and receive Web Access (which is required to use the Laserfiche Mobile app) for free.

“We know that allowing staff to access information from Laserfiche on iPads in the field would be a huge boost in our productivity,” says McElfish.

An Avante upgrade would provide lot of potential for automation as well. McElfish notes that Nelson and Bolt have recently been discussing implementing distributed capture processes for paperless faxes and digital signatures via virtual rubberstamps, all routed by Workflow through the agency’s central scanning office for oversight.

Looking ahead, he is understandably pragmatic. “Although Laserfiche is not our primary practice management system, it represents a critical and necessary content management tool that complements Avatar.

“We’ll continue to have paper and documents that need signatures, and the simplest, most cost-effective way to incorporate them into our EMR strategy is to use Laserfiche. There are digital signature solutions and other options, but Laserfiche lets us use what we already have,” McElfish adds. “Our goal was and is to have a single database to model our EHR from, and Laserfiche has provided us with the portability and flexibility to move forward with that goal from a solid foundation.”

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Fresno County Shares Its Laserfiche Configuration Details Tue, 16 Aug 2011 15:47:02 +0000 admin 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:

  1. Avoid inputting information from the same document at the same time.
  2. Use best practices and practical needs to manage metadata.
  3. How the Property Transfers Division configured their template.
  4. 67 database fields shared across 26 document templates.
  5. “People love stamps here.”
  6. Processing ‘Claims for Reassessment Exclusion’ forms.
  7. Extracting data from the form.
  8. Create templates first to help determine fields.
  9. How tokens use fields to name documents.
  10. Include the document type in its name for future associated use.
  11. Can’t find something? Check the folder path.
  12. 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!”

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How Workflow Turned Tax Season into ROI Season Wed, 27 Jul 2011 20:00:55 +0000 Hobey Echlin Al Hewitt Inc./Hewitt Financial Group (HFG), headquartered in Palmdale, CA, is a combination fee-only Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) and tax preparation firm serving 6,000 clients between its two offices in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

During tax season, staff regularly doubles from 15 to 30, owing to the sheer volume of work—and paperwork—associated with tax preparation. But as HFG’s businesses steadily grew, the firm had also steadily outgrown what Chief Operating Officer Ali Mroue calls its “Stone Age document management system.”

In 2004, the firm had implemented the proprietary and non-SQL based system, which was an add-on module for the firm’s Intuit Lacerte tax preparation software, “purely for storage,” he says. Data transfer to PDF was difficult and error-prone, and “we were essentially scanning to create a back-up for the actual physical file. But that was unreliable—we lost data once, and it had no security or audit trail of any sort.”

From just paperless to purposeful: An ECM vision takes shape

By 2010, HFG files containing 10 years of data were simply too big to manage and too hard to find. “We’d already added a scanning clerk and a designated file clerk, but it was quickly becoming an operational nightmare, with more staff to manage and more documents getting misplaced,” Mroue remembers.

The irony is that when the firm’s search for a proper enterprise content management (ECM) solution brought Mroue to Laserfiche, it was not the first time. “We first looked into Laserfiche in 2006, but back then, we weren’t looking at ECM in terms of business process automation or any bigger-picture operational improvements,” he says. “We just wanted to get rid of the paper.”

Working with Patrick Welsch of Laserfiche reseller Cities Digital, Mroue began to see how integral ECM deployment was to not only keep up with, but also anticipate, Hewitt’s projected growth. “We looked at a few solutions, and they all did things in their own way. Only Laserfiche offered the flexibility to develop our own folder structures and templates—and we’d be able to change them depending on requirements without calling in a consultant,” Mroue says.

“Plus, we required that Laserfiche integrate with our Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Intuit Lacerte tax software, as well as send Microsoft Office documents directly to Laserfiche. We wanted everything to mesh together, other systems either didn’t integrate, or if they did, it was going be complicated and expensive.”

Ease and familiarity of use speeds an already speedy deployment

HFG purchased a 15-user Laserfiche Avante system with Web Access (for deployment to its Ventura County office) and Audit Trail in December of 2010. With April 15 on the horizon, initial deployment focused on the tax preparation side of HFG’s business, beginning with a substantial backlog conversion of paper files. “Considering the holidays, it took around 30 days to deploy, customize and integrate the system. We had one day of training for full-time staff. And it took me 30 minutes to train the part time staff on how they’d be using Laserfiche,” Mroue recalls. The ease of deployment was significant, he adds—based in no small part on Laserfiche’s ability to mirror the firm’s familiar paper filing structures. Tax worksheets are automatically sent to Laserfiche with a single click from Microsoft Office programs, while all forms from the Intuit Lacerte system are sent to Laserfiche using Snapshot.

“We were able to mimic our exact process in the Laserfiche system. Nothing changed for staff; I told them, ‘The client file doesn’t exist—it’s now a client folder.’ That made it easy for the employees to understand the change. Instead of people getting up and moving files from cabinets, it ‘jumps’ by itself,” Mroue says.

Workflow makes a $20,000/1,000 hour difference

The jumping-by-itself, Mroue continues, is the result of implementing Laserfiche Workflow. “A file used to jump between seven sets of hands, from client meeting to the client delivery,” he begins. “File clerk/ front desk staff/preparer/checker/scanner/processor/mail clerk, and back to the file clerk.”

“Now, using Workflow, the front desk sets up the appointment and creates the file for the preparer, and it’s just ‘click’ the field, ‘approve,’ ‘approve,’ ‘approve,’ all the way through the process. If something isn’t approved, it is sent back automatically with a ‘sticky note’ on the document in Laserfiche. Nobody has to leave their desk, and I can monitor the whole process and see where everything is so I know what’s getting done. It just raises the level of efficiency and accountability,” he adds.

“Operationally, we had the best tax season ever, especially for me since I could monitor every detail of the business and everyone’s performance from my screen,” Mroue says. “We delivered content on a CD instead of paper, so we used five boxes of paper instead of 50, plus we saved a lot on postage. We also saved the cost of our part time clerks—which is about $20,000 a year. We made our ROI in the first year alone. But the biggest savings was the preparers’ time—at least 10 minutes for every hour. When you add that up, that’s literally a thousand hours our staff can spend working with more clients.”

Coincidentally, the firm’s Laserfiche installation and training took place right around the time of the annual Empower 2011 Laserfiche Institute Conference in January, inspiring an even quicker adoption. “Everyone from our office agreed the Conference was pretty amazing in the amount of knowledge provided,” Mroue adds. “I was actually able to continue writing the Workflow automations for our tax preparation process at the Conference.”

Expanding deployment, saving more clicks with image-enablement integration

As of June 2011, the firm has extended scanning to Al Hewitt, Inc., its RIA firm. “Our goal is to eliminate all the files in our office by the end of August—which will free up a big space,” Mroue says.

For next tax season, Mroue says HFG will utilize Cities Digital’s Unfetterfiche to image-enable their Lacerte system with a single hot key. Deployment for the Al Hewitt, Inc./RIA side of the business is also being mapped out. “Each client file has about six folders, so that transition will be immensely beneficial,” he says.

“We’re taking things step by step,” Mroue adds. “One thing we’ve learned from this process is that in order for the transition to a totally paperless environment to be successful, users have to accept it and want to use it. Laserfiche has the flexibility to make that happen.”

For his part, however, Mroue is very satisfied. “From an IT standpoint, Laserfiche is easy to maneuver and to develop and change. You’re not going back and asking the VAR for help all the time, so it won’t cost you money down the road,” he says. “We’re already thinking about upgrading the system and adding more users.”

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“We Fell In Love with Workflow” Tue, 28 Jun 2011 17:21:56 +0000 Hobey Echlin Eastmont Towers, a continuing care retirement community in Lincoln, NE, offers multiple levels of care and a range of services between five buildings on two campuses, which leads to multiple levels of information management challenges. Patients transferring from area hospitals bring electronic and paper medical records with them, creating distribution bottlenecks, logistics and the need for more and more filing cabinets—along with potential compliance and confidentiality concerns.

When Eastmont Towers’ Health Care Administrator Beth Nelsen RN, CHPN, began exploring enterprise content management systems, she soon discovered that “paperless” meant a lot more than just empty file cabinets. “First, we looked at outsourcing to a company that would scan our records onto disks,” remembers Nelsen, “but we were concerned about how we’d be able to use the information once it was digitally stored.”

Not to mention, outsourcing may have gotten rid of the paper—but it created an entirely new set of compliance concerns. Nelsen next began to explore solutions the agency could configure, use and administer in-house.

Quick Fields and Workflow: impressive possibilities

Kathy Gentile of Laserfiche reseller Bishop Business Equipment had worked with Eastmont Towers as an MFP hardware provider. Gentile, Bishop’s Laserfiche Document Management Specialist, invited Records Management staff from the agency to attend a workshop to see Laserfiche in action. Nelsen and her staff saw how Laserfiche Quick Fields could create files on the fly. Once files were created, Workflow could then notify decision makers of pending approvals and track those approvals throughout multiple business processes.

Nelsen was impressed. “We fell in love with Workflow,” she says, citing how it could help the agency:

  • Transmit insurance information to the billing office.
  • Send lab results to physicians.
  • Route medication orders to the pharmacy.

“We’re a multidisciplinary team caring for people across a continuum, so that ability to share documents between departments, reduce paperwork and improve communication would greatly increase efficiency and positively impact patient care,” she adds.

Thus inspired, Nelsen and her team purchased a 30-user Laserfiche Rio pilot system and have spent the first half of this year preparing to roll it out. “Laserfiche Rio made the most sense in terms of meeting our immediate needs. It includes Workflow and the Records Management component to work with our EMR, as well as unlimited servers.

“As we progress, we can just add users to grow the system to meet our future needs and goals. Scalability was a big factor in choosing Laserfiche Rio,” Nelsen explains.

Goodbye filing cabinets, hello automated patient charting

Eastmont Towers’ medical records staff is now halfway through a backlog conversion process that Nelsen anticipates will eliminate at least four filing cabinets by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Nelsen and her staff have been analyzing business processes to guide the upcoming implementation. “After we had our initial training, we sat down to map out what exactly we do with our documents, where they are sent and why,” she says.

Initial focus has been on automating the patient charting process to compile and distribute client records and information as they enter Eastmont Towers from hospitals and other healthcare agencies. “We have several departments we need to route various information to, so we needed a way to streamline and simplify everything coming in and have it work with our EMR so staff could find everything in one place,” explains Nelsen.

Eastmont Towers is currently working with Gentile and Laserfiche consultants Our Support Services to automate and streamline the patient charting process:

  • When a patient transfers to Eastmont’s Skilled Nursing facility, Quick Fields generates a chart by recognizing document types from an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Quick Fields then populates metadata template fields according to patient name and ID number.
  • Quick Fields then builds the folder structure out according to what documents fall under respective chart headings.
  • Workflow then notifies the pharmacy and dietician according to document type (nutrition information, etc.).

Prior to implementing Laserfiche, paper files all had chart tab dividers. Every time a document was added to that tab, all documents had to be removed from the file so new information could be filed in the appropriate spot, then documents would be replaced in the folder and the folder refiled. A new feature in Laserfiche 8.2, dynamic fields, greatly simplifies this process, Gentile explains.

“When a ‘tab’ item is selected from the ‘Chart Tab’ field drop down, the ‘Chart Doc Type’ drop down list automatically populates to correspond with the documents that fall under that ‘Chart Tab’ category,” she says. “It’s saved staff a lot of time.”

Immediate practicalities, limitless possibilities

As Nelsen and her team continue to come up with ideas for future process automation, she sees even more potential for Laserfiche. “We wanted something that was would be fairly easy for the end user to learn but that also could streamline our processes better, and Laserfiche has met and exceeded our expectations,” she says.

Next up, she says, are integrations with the agency’s Keane clinical and financial software to support current EMR deployment and refine and automate processes in the Accounting Department. “We see a lot of value in having an ECM system that’s flexible and adaptable enough to meet clinical and non-clinical needs throughout our agency,” Nelsen adds.

“We have a lot of time and resources invested in our existing technology, so it’s important that Laserfiche enables us to build on the progress we’ve already made without interrupting the ways we’re used to working. Plus, the way Rio’s set up, we can keep building with it, which is very appealing to us. Technology’s always changing and Laserfiche is a great tool to adapt along with it.”

Screenshot of Eastmont Towers' table used to populate the template's dynamic fields by chart type.


The drop-down menu where users select Chart Doc Type to automatically populate the list with specific documents, instead of having to manually sort through tab dividers to find the paper file.

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Nowhere to Go But Up Mon, 27 Jun 2011 21:25:20 +0000 Hobey Echlin Covering just two square miles, Chelsea, MA is the state’s smallest city, but also one of its densest with 35,000 residents residing in its two square miles. Housing a dozen schools and a dozen-plus more municipal buildings, Chelsea is “certainly compact,” as IT Director John Hyland puts it. By 2008, the tight quarters left the city’s document management strategy nowhere to go but up, especially in the Inspection Services Division, where 45 filing cabinets were “literally overflowing” out of their allotted storeroom. The only available storage option, says Hyland, was the attic of City Hall. Nowhere to go but up, indeed.

At the same time, Chelsea had been experiencing what Hyland terms “a slowdown” with some departments—IT and the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) among them—facing staff reductions of up to 15–25%. For Joseph Cooney, Director of Inspectional Services, servicing the FOIA/public records requests his department received every week from real estate agents and lawyers was affecting overall service levels. “We’re down enough staff that to devote one or two people to spend a whole day finding and copying paperwork to fulfill requests was just brutal,” says Cooney.

Filling a need, launching a vision

In 2009, Chelsea IT and ISD combined efforts to go before the Chelsea City Council to propose implementing an enterprise content management (ECM) system to address the problem. “It was a pretty easy sell,” recalls Hyland. His vision was to acquire a system that eventually all departments would use, with ISD leading the way. “ISD had the immediate need and the 100-year-old documents that made the case for digitization that drove the project.”

Out of the three vendor responses to the city’s RFP, it was the Laserfiche Avante ECM system proposed by Mike McDonough of area reseller Duplitron that met all the city’s requirements the most cost-effectively. “Several cities in our area were also already using Laserfiche,” Hyland notes. Faced with his own staff reductions, Hyland was especially encouraged by the idea of using Web Access to deploy, administer and eventually expand the system. “We have a virtualized environment, so the Web-based client made the most sense for us,” Hyland says. “The less desktop installation we need, the more resourceful it is for my staff, and Web-based deployment means more users can use the system from any browser in our intranet.”

For his part, Cooney was won over when Chelsea’s Deputy City Manager, a resident of neighboring city Peabody, showed him how that city’s Laserfiche Web Portal made public information instantly searchable and available from its website. “He literally typed in his name and every document came with his name in it came up right away. I was like, ‘That’s awesome. I’m sold.’”

Searchable, viewable, sendable

In April of 2009, the city purchased a 10-user Laserfiche Avante system with Import Agent and Web Access. Initial deployment targeted the ISD’s overflowing storerooms. Cooney’s staff began scanning in the 45 filing cabinets of building, electrical, zoning, etc. inspections, ranging from bulky legal size file jackets to 3×5 cards. Laserfiche in turn made all the documents, regardless of size, age or number of pages, immediately searchable by address and viewable as a series of thumbnail images. The improvement for Cooney and his staff was immediate. “We could literally be on the phone with a request, type in the address, ask, ‘What’s your email?’ And ‘Boom, boom, boom, see ya later’—it’s sent and done,’” says Cooney. “All our inspection notices coming in now are scanned in. We’re not bogged down at all.”

Building on the ISD’s initial success, deployment has followed to the City Clerk’s office, which has merged with the Licensing office to further consolidate and optimize departmental functions and systems. Planned implementations include the city’s Law Department, which, like ISD two years ago, has nowhere to go but the attic of City Hall with its file cabinet overflow. Hyland expects more to follow. “We envisioned the system to be something more and more departments will be using,” he says, noting that this makes sense not only from an IT resource perspective, but also in terms of establishing a single point of control for governance. “Our next step would be to securely open up our information to the community.”

Turning ‘physical ROI’ into a practical framework for increased efficiency and governance

To that end, Chelsea is considering a potential upgrade to Laserfiche Rio, which would include a WebLink Public Portal, similar to the one used in neighboring Peabody. With the ISD success as a cornerstone, he says, the idea at least has a fighting chance. “The reality is that using Laserfiche has given us a ‘physical ROI’ in terms of getting rid of hundreds of filing cabinets, so we have that foundation and momentum to work from.” With modest IT resources and city staff often wearing many hats (City Clerk Deborah Clayman also serves as de facto Records Manager, for instance), a Rio upgrade would offer Chelsea bite-sized benefits of an ECM strategy (incremental deployment/licensing; increased governance; simplified records management; test server environments) without the city—or Hyland’s modest staff—biting off more than they can chew.

The possibilities are many—from simply having a single, centralized repository for documents generated by all city departments to replacing its current PDF-based online documents available with links to view documents (with appropriate redactions) right from subdirectories in the Laserfiche repository. There are also other potential projects, from image-enabling the Police Department’s CAD/RMS system through its current SharePoint deployment to linking the city’s cloud-based GIS system to the centralized Laserfiche repository. Hyland is as hopeful as he is realistic. “Right now our concept of ‘workflows’ are limited to file-sharing,” he says. “But I think when once we get all the departments online, we’ll be able talk about how that will work for us and what ECM can do project by project.”

To Learn More

Attend a free Webinar on Document Management for State and Local Government next Thursday, July 7th, at 10:00 am PST to see what using Laserfiche can do for your departments and processes.

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A Healthy Integration Tue, 19 Apr 2011 16:22:49 +0000 admin While the restaurants and vineyards of the North East Victorian town of Rutherglen are key elements of the town’s economy, it’s the not-for-profit Indigo North Health organisation that promotes the community’s health and wellbeing. Servicing a population of approximately 2000 people, Indigo North Health provides a range of services including home-based nursing, residential aged care, children’s services, retirement village living and community transport.

Challenge: Document management efficiency

Located across three campuses, Indigo North Health operates on a tight budget, balancing the provision of quality services with a streamlined yet highly efficient staff and infrastructure. Not surprisingly, internal efficiencies that contribute to improved services are a high priority for the organisation’s CEO, Cameron Butler; and high on the agenda in late 2009 was document and file management.

“We rely heavily on suppliers and contractors,” Cameron says. “So it’s important for everyone that the flow of information, whether in the form of general correspondence or finance-based documents is incredibly efficient. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case; and with the business having doubled over the past five years, we were in the position of having to identify and implement a more efficient means of managing our documents and files.”

Answer: A Laserfiche solution

In partnership with Copy Print Scan (CPS) Albury, a Ricoh Business Partner, Indigo North Health sought to evaluate the suitability of a Laserfiche and Ricoh MFD (Multi-Function Device) solution. Following an extensive evaluation process, Cameron gained approval from the organisation’s board to partner with CPS on the solution’s implementation.

“The first and most important aspect of our document management on which we worked with the CPS team was our accounts payable invoice approval process,” Cameron says. “And by the first of July 2010, we had a streamlined workflow that’s nothing short of fantastic.”

Saving a day every fortnight

Streamlining the accounts payable workflow for invoice distribution and approval has delivered an immediate saving of eight to ten hours every fortnight. On that alone, it’s a saving that represents a near full return on investment in barely 12 months.

So where does that saving come from? Firstly, as invoices are received—either electronically or in hard copy—from suppliers and contractors, they are immediately transferred to the organisation’s Laserfiche system where they are assigned to a particular cost centre. At this point, the customised workflow developed by the CPS team kicks in and an email is automatically sent through to the cost centre’s manager.

The savings realised up to then are through:

  • Eliminating the manual distribution of invoices.
  • Reducing the instances of having to request misplaced invoices from suppliers.
  • Removing the need to manage a large number of paper-based accounts payable files.

Next, it’s the Laserfiche-based approval process that adds even greater efficiency and savings. With the e-mail received, cost centre managers receive an embedded link to the invoice, which, when clicked, displays the invoice on their screen along with the ability to approve or deny the payment, specify an expense code and add notes for the accounts payable team if required.

Once closed, the approved or denied invoice is sent immediately through to the accounts payable team who then take the appropriate follow-up action. Again, the savings accumulate. This time, though, through:

  • Streamlining the invoice approval process.
  • Achieving instant transmission of approvals from the cost centre manager to accounts payable.
  • Fully eliminating instances of invoices lost in transit.
  • Dramatically reducing the “chasing up of approvals” by accounts payable.

“Laserfiche has delivered even more in cost and time savings than we initially expected when it comes to the accounts payable workflow,” Cameron states. “For cost centre managers, invoice management has become a simple and straightforward process, and for the accounts payable department, there are new high levels of accuracy, accountability and time efficiency.”

A well-defined audit trail

What then of purchase orders that relate to the invoices? “Quite simply, we have a Laserfiche folder containing invoices and another for purchase orders,” Cameron explains. “When the invoice is filed, it’s matched with any corresponding purchase orders so when the invoice is sent through, the cost centre managers are immediately able to verify its details against those stipulated in the purchase order.”

A key enabling factor in the matching of invoices to purchase orders is the advanced and highly accurate OCR (Optical Character Recognition) capabilities of the Laserfiche solution. Whether invoices are scanned in at the MFD or received by fax, the solution automatically scans and translates each word on the document, then updates an integrated index database.

“When we need to locate any document, whether it’s an invoice, purchase order or anything else that we’ve filed in the Laserfiche system, it’s a simple case of entering a supplier’s name or any other search criteria into the search field, and it’s there immediately,” Cameron says.

“The time this is saving everyone is definitely one of the key reasons this solution is being so well accepted and utilised by our organisation.”

An extended application

Having recognised the document and file management benefits of the Laserfiche solution, Cameron was quick to take the lead within Indigo North Health and initiate Laserfiche filing of business correspondence, patient records, and Board documents and meeting minutes.

“We’re a relatively small organisation, and even as the CEO I don’t have the luxury of a personal assistant,” Cameron states. “For my correspondence, one of the admin team uses the Ricoh MFD to scan in everything and drop it into my correspondence folder. From there, I’m able to browse through it all, search for any related documents and file it into my own Laserfiche file folders.

“For the admin team, all that’s required is to stack the correspondence into the MFD’s document feeder, press a couple of buttons and that’s it,” Cameron continues. “In a matter of a minute or so, all my daily correspondence is scanned, filed and available online.”

Understanding the business

It’s well worth noting that while the Ricoh MFD and Laserfiche are the two core elements that have supported achieving those early savings, the equation is significantly more than being simply the sum of the two. It is the tight integration existing between the two technologies, along with the high levels of customisation and integration that enabled the CPS team to create workflows that have proven to be precise matches for Indigo North Health’s business needs.

“When the project commenced, we had in our minds what we wanted to achieve,” Cameron explains. “But then, there are workflow requirements that are specific to our business and to the industry in which we operate. Bringing our ideas and goals to reality was only achieved through committed work from the CPS team to understand our business, talk to our administration staff members, thoroughly document the manual processes and then apply that knowledge to the solution.

“It’s that same commitment and expertise that we fully expect will underpin the growing range of applications we have in mind for the solution. For us, the Ricoh MFDs, Laserfiche, support and expertise are fundamental to our ability to improve efficiencies and deliver even better services to our community.”

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Making AP Processing Less of a Process Thu, 24 Feb 2011 17:17:14 +0000 Hobey Echlin The Waco, TX, Independent School District (WISD) serves over 15,000 students across 32 campuses. For WISD’s Accounting Department, that means cutting 300-400 checks a week to vendors and agencies serving the district, as well as handling the information management needs that come along with AP processing for a mid-size ISD like Waco. This includes:

  • Copying and filing checks, purchase orders and invoices.
  • Filing bank and vendor reconciliations and journal entries.
  • Answering daily open records requests from vendors and departments district-wide.
  • Making records available for auditors from internal, local and state agencies.

By 2008, file cabinets were taking up more and more space—and staff trips to look up records were taking up more and more staff time. Sheryl Davis, Superintendent for Business and Support Services, decided to do something about it. Davis had seen how different document types could be scanned, sorted, indexed and filed according to a customizable set of template fields using Laserfiche at a workshop held at the Region 12 Education Service Center (ESC Region 12). ESC Region 12 held the workshop in conjuction with their Laserfiche reseller, Bryan/College Station-based SMARTfiles, to introduce Laserfiche and its benefits for ISDs.

Davis was encouraged by the fact that ESC Region 12 (which serves WISD) was already successfully utilizing Laserfiche, and contacted SMARTfiles about acquiring a similar system in the WISD Accounting Department.

A scan in time saves nine

Initial implementation focused on automating how AP staff captured vendor information, and key to that was integrating Laserfiche with the District’s SunGard e-Finance software (formerly Pentamation). Utilizing Laserfiche Quick Fields advanced capture software, staff could now schedule regular processing sessions to automatically create Laserfiche files using the purchase order (PO) numbers, which then automatically fill-in vendor information from the SunGard system. The efficiency, says Cindy Shaver, Accounting and Payroll Coordinator, was immediate. “It saves us time because we don’t have to scan in the POs and create a file,” she says. Then, after paying the invoice, the scanned check and other supporting documentation are likewise added to the file—which is all accessible from a desktop.

WISD found that user adoption is not without its hiccups—or its remedies. “We had an employee that did not want to scan at first, as she thought it would consume her time,” Shaver recalls. “Once she saw the value in retrieving documents at her desktop and not having to retrieve them from a file cabinet and/or boxes from off-site, she became more willing to scan.”

Shaver admits she herself took a little time acclimating to the idea of paperless information automation. “When I first came on two years ago, I thought we’d need to create a full-time position to scan in all these documents, but that hasn’t been the case,” she says. After every check-run, the Accounts Payable Specialist scans in the checks and supporting documentation by PO, adding them to the file already created in Laserfiche. “It takes some time and monitoring to ensure that items are being scanned in weekly, but the result is this overall efficiency,” she says. “It’s absolutely wonderful to have this information on our computers versus going to a file cabinet, or a person’s office, or finding a missing document.”

The scanning process itself benefitted from some refinements. Initially, Shaver says, staff scanned in by invoice. “But one check could pay 30 invoices, which took time. So we reevaluated the process and started scanning by POs.” Now, almost three years later, the department has seen consistent long-term benefits. “We are able to retrieve documents quickly and are able to move files off-site sooner, which has freed up space in our department.”

As a principal end-user, AP Lead Gloriana Murry credits a short but optimistic learning curve with contributing to both the success of initial adoption, and leading to a broader scope of Laserfiche use. “It’s a very easy-to-use system,” she says. “It didn’t take much to open my eyes to what else we could use the system for.”

WISD’s Laserfiche reseller, SMARTfiles, intially provided staff with an eight-hour training session, followed by annual refresher courses. In addition, monthly newsletters and tips-and-tricks e-mails keep users up-to-date with new ways to increase efficiency. Staff have also taken advantage of online training courses available through the Laserfiche Certified Professional Program to further increase their knowledge base.

Shaver credits the flexibility of Laserfiche to add and customize template fields with expanding its use for more detailed audit information and accounting functions, including journal entries, bank reconciliations and documents/reports for outside auditors. “I created a template for journal entries very easily. I simplified the template to include ‘Journal Entry Number,’ ‘Description,’ ‘Period’ and ‘Year,’” she says. “Since I’m scanning them in, I no longer have to keep an actual file folder for them.”

Paper-free means headache-free audits, records requests and reconciliation

The comprehensiveness and convenience of having vendor and other financial information in single, searchable repository has significantly impacted two major processes-slash-pains: answering open records requests and making information available to auditors. “Every day you’re bombarded with phone calls from people needing information from you,” says Murry. “In the past you had to get up and go to a file cabinet to look it up—if it was misfiled, you were on your own. Now I just save a copy to PDF and e-mail it off. It went from taking 15 minutes to less than two minutes. I’ll have campuses call and I’ll have them on the phone and say ‘Okay, it’s in your e-mail right now.’”

Shaver shares this story: “I had an open records request for all invoices that were paid to this one vendor for the last five years. For the first 2 ½ years—from before we implemented Laserfiche—for those, we had to track them down in off-site storage and then pay to have those files delivered. We then had to un-staple them and stand by the copier machine to make copies,” she says. “For the invoices from the 2 ½ years since Laserfiche was implemented, I searched by vendor, highlighted and saved it to a file and sent the file electronically, which saved paper, toner and valuable time.”

Between internal, local and state agencies, WISD’s financial records are subject to regular audits—at least 12 times a year—often without more than a few days lead time. “Our auditors usually provide us a list of maybe 200 invoices they wanted to review for testing purposes.” Shaver says. “We used to either pull the items for them or they would go through our files to pull it themselves. Now, I set them up with viewing-only access in Laserfiche, so they can review their selections in Laserfiche.

“They can also save paper by saving their selections to file versus printing as they, too, are trying to go paperless,” she adds. “I had one auditor comment how simple the process was for him to review and how much it sped up the process. Some of the auditors were fighting over the computer as we had stored all information for them in a special “Audit folder”—perhaps next year I will need to ensure they have another computer with Laserfiche so they don’t have to wait until the other auditor is finished with their testing.”

Another process that Shaver says significantly improved is reconciling the WISD fixed assets system with its SunGard system. “If there’s anything missing in our fixed asset program or SunGard, I just use Laserfiche to research the asset in question and make any corrections,” Shaver says. “It’s so easy, and I’m doing it from my desk.”

Now, she says, she can’t imagine life without Laserfiche. “If you take it away, it’s like you’re taking away my computer. It’s like going back to the Stone Age.”

Hello Payroll, goodbye nine filing cabinets

More recently, Shaver’s departmental duties have expanded to include the WISD Payroll Department—and all nine file cabinets worth of its personnel files. “One of the Account Payable Specialists was promoted to Payroll Specialist II position—she’s a strong advocate for Laserfiche and is looking forward to utilizing it for Payroll,” Shaver says. The department, she adds, is preparing to input personnel files into Laserfiche, including:

  • Action sheets.
  • Direct deposit forms.
  • Payroll deduction forms.
  • W-4 forms.

For her expanded duties, however, Shaver is already using Laserfiche. “Currently, I am scanning in all the payroll redistributions that I have prepared, because it enables me to keep track of the redistributions as well as to retrieve the documentation for the redistribution,” she says.

She says what has made Laserfiche so versatile for WISD has been its ease-of-use. “I’ve seen similar programs to Laserfiche, but nothing as simple to use,” Shaver offers. “We can set it up similarly to how we’re used to keeping out documents on our desktops.

“It’s so easy to use that when I joined the department as the system administrator, I picked it up right away. I think it says a lot about our success using Laserfiche that it is so easy and intuitive, because you can set it up however works best for you.”

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Integration Improves Information Flow Fri, 18 Feb 2011 20:00:39 +0000 Meghann Wooster The Virginia Port Authority hired Angela Ellis as its SharePoint Administrator in 2007, but it wasn’t long before her boss, Deputy Executive Director of Administration and CFO Rodney Oliver, enlisted her to start looking into enterprise content management (ECM) solutions.

“Rodney recognized that although SharePoint could do many great things for our organization, DoD 5015.2-certified records management wasn’t one of them,” says Ellis, who today is a senior web analyst for the Port Authority.

“SharePoint,” she explains, “with all of its many features is so much more robust than a network drive. In particular, the Port Authority uses document workspaces heavily, because they make it easy to collaborate on works in progress such as contracts. However, once you go beyond about 10,000 documents, you’ve got a real mess on your hands.”

According to Ellis, the Port Authority didn’t want to lose the collaboration features inherent in SharePoint, nor did it want to take a familiar interface away from the staff, so it needed to make sure that the ECM solution it selected had a seamless SharePoint integration. “I was the lead on the team that built our RFP,” Ellis says. “In the end, we had more than 400 requirements and 24 vendors vying for our business. The SharePoint integration was our top concern.”

Other important selection criteria included:

  • Robust records management functionality.
  • The ability to electronically store a wide range of file types, including AutoCAD drawings.
  • Open architecture allowing integration with line-of-business applications such as CRM.
  • Availability of workflow functionality for process improvements—and a reduced paper flow.

“Before we implemented Laserfiche, our records management plan was very inefficient,” Ellis explains. “We’d print out documents, process them by hand and then file them in cabinets. We had a whole warehouse dedicated to file storage, containing all kinds of old documents in Bankers Boxes stacked nearly to the ceiling that we didn’t have time to properly manage.”

Laserfiche + SharePoint = Transparency

By integrating Laserfiche with SharePoint, the Port Authority now has the ability to collaborate on documents, retain them electronically, and efficiently manage and dispose of digital records—all while giving users access to content through the SharePoint interface.

“Laserfiche has dramatically reduced the flow of paper throughout the organization,” says Ellis. “It’s opened up space for new offices and enabled us to tear down an entire warehouse for profitable use!”

But the cost and space savings aren’t the most significant benefits the Port Authority has realized as a result of its Laserfiche implementation. By acting as integrative middleware, Laserfiche allows users at the organization to access information in the environment with which they’re already familiar: SharePoint.

“The Port Authority’s had SharePoint for close to ten years, so people are pretty familiar with it,” says Ellis. “Most of our users won’t even know they’re using Laserfiche. With the integration, our content is searchable on an enterprise level, and the results are returned to users transparently through SharePoint. It enables us to access all our information from one central location without having to train our users on a new system.”

Laserfiche + SharePoint = Operational Efficiency

With Laserfiche in place, the Port Authority has started using it to streamline business processes. First on the list? The RFP and vendor selection process.

The Port Authority was established in 1952 as a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia for the purpose of stimulating commerce in the ports of the Commonwealth, promoting the shipment of goods and cargoes through the ports, improving the navigable tidal waters within the Commonwealth, and in general to perform any act or function which may be useful in developing, improving or increasing the commerce of the ports of the Commonwealth. As such, it contracts with dozens of vendors each year.

In the past, the RFP and vendor selection process was manual and paper-based:

  • Proposals were submitted in hard copy and photocopies for each member of the selection committee.
  • After a contract had been finalized, paper copies were made for the Contracts and Finance Departments, and also distributed to the contract administrators.
  • Because copies of the contracts documents weren’t centralized, it was difficult to locate the most current version of any given contract or amendment.

With the help of Unity ECM, the Port Authority’s Laserfiche reseller, the organization has transformed the entire process as follows:

  • Proposals are submitted electronically and automatically routed into SharePoint.
  • Proposals are posted to a workspace in SharePoint for contract evaluation, scoring, changes and selection.
  • Once the collaboration phase is finished and the contract is finalized, it is automatically pulled into Laserfiche, where it is retained according to contract retention schedules.
  • From SharePoint, users can access the contract by clicking on a URL that takes them directly to the document stored in Laserfiche. The URL placeholder in SharePoint ensures that the data is synchronized between the two systems, simplifying version control.
  • When searching for a contract, users run a search in SharePoint that seamlessly provides results from both the Laserfiche and SharePoint repositories.

“Even employees who aren’t technologically inclined appreciate the efficiency of our new process,” says Ellis. “In general, having real-time information available in a central location has been one of the most important process improvements our organization has received as a benefit of this project.”

Overcoming Implementation Hurdles

One implementation hurdle that Ellis hopes to help other people avoid when integrating Laserfiche with SharePoint has to do with Kerberos, a network authentication protocol that, according to Ellis, is “widely used but poorly documented.”

The Laserfiche/SharePoint integration tools are optimally designed for a single-server deployment, but according to Ellis, the Port Authority “has Laserfiche and SharePoint set up on a multi-server farm that consists of five different servers: the Laserfiche Application Server, Laserfiche SQL Server, SharePoint (MOSS) Server, SharePoint SQL Server and a server for Laserfiche Web Access. Prior to implementing Laserfiche, we didn’t realize that—because we have multiple servers—the integration wouldn’t work without a great deal of manual configuration and without using Kerberos. We had a few frustrating days before we figured that out.

“In the end,” she adds, “we had to enlist a senior network administrator to assist us by adding the SPNs on the domain controllers, since adding them to the Laserfiche or SharePoint servers doesn’t solve the issue.

“My two big pieces of advice for other organizations that want to deploy the Laserfiche/SharePoint integration are to get to know your Active Directory and SharePoint experts really well (if you’re not either one) and use the Laserfiche Support Site. Read those Knowledge Base articles!”

Even the hassle surrounding the Kerberos issue, however, didn’t dampen Ellis’ enthusiasm for Laserfiche. “If I had to do it all over again the same way, I’d do it all over again, hands-down,” she says. “Both our users and our executives are impressed with the efficiency and effectiveness the Laserfiche/SharePoint integration affords the organization. Putting a secure, centralized and powerful Laserfiche repository behind SharePoint has given everybody much better access to the information they need to do their jobs well.”

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Special Benefits for Special Education Fri, 18 Feb 2011 18:51:18 +0000 admin College Station Independent School District (CSISD) in College Station, TX, needed a more efficient way to manage content for its Special Services Department to provide students with timely, specialized assistance. “Everything we do is designed to ensure that the special education student is on the same playing field as a regular education student,” stresses Technical Assistant Nancy Boller, who is responsible for maintaining compliant student records.

The confidential information contained in a special education student’s file is vital to CSISD’s special education teachers. “It’s important that those working with students in Special Services understand what modifications need to be in place and what each student needs to succeed in class. That information resides in our students’ files, so maintaining them properly is a top priority for us.”

With an overflowing amount of paperwork, stored offsite as well as taking up space onsite, keeping these confidential records organized, secure and easily accessible was a massive problem. “I used to get paper cuts and a strained neck from sorting through boxes for hours to satisfy a request for information,” says Boller.

Costly Paper Trails

“We’re required to keep our students’ files for seven years after they leave our district,” Boller explains. As a result, the department housed thousands of inactive files in offsite storage—costing several thousand dollars a year.

“Annual placement review meeting reports alone can be anywhere from 10-30 pages long. Some students are in the district from age three until age 22, so they get reviewed 18 or 19 times,” Boller explains. “The bulk of content we have to manage, just in our inactive files, is incredible.”

In addition to yearly placement meeting reports, each student’s file includes federally protected information such as:

  • Special Education testing (required every three years).
  • Medical records.
  • Disciplinary information.

To satisfy requests for information, Special Services staff used to go to the warehouse and search through boxes, or, in some cases, warehouse staff would bring 10-15 boxes from the offsite storage room to the department so that staff could sort through them to find the requested information. Once located, the department made copies of the entire file (sometimes hundreds of pages) and paid to mail it to the requesting school district. “At $5 or $6 a package, the cost adds up,” Boller says.

Transition to Technology

After learning about Laserfiche enterprise content management (ECM) software from an employee in the purchasing warehouse, the Special Services Department acquired bids from two other content management providers and then evaluated the software during demos and presentations. “We needed a solution that would not only keep our records safe and accessible, but would also be easy to use for a variety of staff. Laserfiche was the best fit for our needs,” Boller says.

“At first I was a little skeptical,” she admits, explaining that some of the long-time employees were especially hesitant to switch to digitized content. “But we received lots of help from SMARTfiles, our Laserfiche reseller. Scanning in all the files was faster and easier than I expected, and the end results of using Laserfiche make it well worth the investment of both time and money.”

Secure Access Saves Time

One of the biggest benefits of deploying Laserfiche for CSISD’s Special Services Department is that content is both more secure and easier to share with authorized personnel. “When a dyslexia specialist or a special education teacher needs to access an active record that was previously stored in one of 40 boxes, she’s now able to access that information online, right from her classroom,” Boller explains.

Because only authorized personnel can access the files stored in Laserfiche, confidential information is secure and protected. Plus, Boller says, “With student information in electronic format, it’s so much easier to provide it to new schools and districts if the student moves. The transfer of information is prompt, so students’ services aren’t interrupted.” She notes that smooth, continued service is particularly key to accommodating student needs.

CSISD uses the Texas Education Agency’s state-wide record request system, Texas Records Exchange (TREx), to send and receive student information across the state’s educational system. “We’re now able to export files from Laserfiche to PDFs, then upload them to the TREx system for delivery. We no longer have to scan in pages one by one. It’s so much faster and easier—and it doesn’t tie up the Xerox machines all day!”

In addition, CSISD uses Laserfiche Audit Trail to ease the burden of complying with federal record retention regulations and mandates. “The government can come in and audit us at any time,” says Boller. “Electronic records are much easier to locate thanks to the organized file structure, granular search capability and secure access we get through Laserfiche.”

Prepared for the Unexpected

While Laserfiche is able to reduce CSISD’s paper clutter and provide instant, secure access to student records, Boller brings up another interesting benefit of implementation. “In our region, we have to keep in mind that natural disasters occur. For instance, some schools lost all their paper records when Hurricane Ike came though.”

In order to create new or replacement files for special education students, the students must be retested. Retesting can take anywhere from four to 12 hours—not including the time it takes to do the paperwork. To get a child into the Special Services system, Boller says it can take as long as 60 days.

“Digital files aren’t as fragile as paper,” Boller says. “With Laserfiche, we don’t have to worry that our students will lose ground after a natural disaster.”

Future Plans

Although CSISD’s Special Services Department currently uses Laserfiche mostly for inactive records management, Boller says the department is moving toward managing all active files in Laserfiche. “After seeing what Laserfiche can do, we can’t wait to take it to the next level. Laserfiche has made our jobs more efficient, which in turn helps students—and that’s our main priority.

“Laserfiche allows us to better manage the sheer volume of paperwork we have, but our added needs for confidentiality and easy access make the system essential for Special Services,” she concludes.

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Teaching Old Docs New Tricks Tue, 15 Feb 2011 23:05:42 +0000 admin Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) knew enterprise content management was in its future in 2007 when its president, touring the campus, opened the door to a shower room in an old gymnasium—and found 70 filing cabinets of old business records. Needless to say, the oldest continuously operating institute of higher learning in South Texas needed a new, more effective way to manage its information.

A committee was promptly formed to review content management solutions. Ralph Stephens, Executive Director of Strategic Sourcing & General Services at TAMUK, knew that some of TAMUK’s sister schools had turned to Laserfiche with similar content management challenges.

In fact, nearly 1,200 staff in 10 different departments and divisions within The Texas A&M University System’s members were already benefitting from Laserfiche, including:

Stephens spoke with colleagues about the benefits of using Laserfiche and learned that Texas A&M AgriLife had also recently implemented Laserfiche to eliminate the need to print records and to automate document matching across 86 locations. The TAMUK committee contacted Laserfiche reseller SMARTfiles, which had worked with several TAMUS accounts, and arranged several demos to see how Laserfiche could fit their needs.

“So many records and copies were being created that security became an issue, especially for upper administration,” explains Vicki Bienski of SMARTfiles. “Sensitive information such as social security numbers and travel vouchers were being manually transported between offices.” Implementing Laserfiche would allow multiple departments to access and share information from a single, secured repository, rectifying confidentiality issues surrounding certain records while also allowing multiple departments to instantly access the information they needed.

The committee decided that Laserfiche was the right choice for TAMUK, with users across the board agreeing that the system was not only user-friendly, but also scalable enough to grow as needs changed. “Although we needed Laserfiche to solve our document storage issues, its breadth of capabilities also played a large part in our selection process,” explains Stephens.

Updating by Automating

Implementation began late that June and by the end of the summer, 15 employees in six departments were using the system, paving the way for campus-wide deployment that fall. Initially, the school chose administrative offices to serve as beta sites for developing procedures, testing processes and eventually training other departments to use the system. The beta sites included:

  • Accounting.
  • Accounts Payable.
  • Budgets.
  • Human Resources.
  • Physical Plant.
  • Procurement.

Once the beta sites proved successful, campus-wide deployment began. A significant part of this expanded deployment was to change the scope of Laserfiche use from archival storage to day-forward capture of active business documents, the idea being to input, organize and access old and new files across multiple departments, all from Laserfiche. “We liked that Laserfiche could be a repository for any document—image files, Word documents, PDFs, e-mails— not only scanned images,” Stephens says.

To automate such a high volume of document capture and processing, TAMUK turned to Laserfiche Quick Fields, which pulls data from incoming electronic documents, to automatically create, sort and file records in the Laserfiche repository. Managing certain business documents like purchase orders or payment vouchers, however, required a more elaborate solution.

Utilizing FabSoft Integration to Optimize Functionality

While Quick Fields could easily scan documents and file them appropriately from the university’s legacy system, those records were then sent to the University College Station remote mainframe, where information is electronically housed, before they were sent back to TAMUK and printed—up to a staggering 4,000 pages of vouchers and purchase orders a day. In order to eliminate both the need to print such a large volume of paper, as well as to eliminate the extra steps it took to input this paperwork and deliver it to the departments requesting it, TAMUK worked with Laserfiche engineers to integrate FabSoft with Quick Fields to create detailed electronic forms unique to the information at hand.

FabSoft places the print data from the mainframe system onto a new form, and that key information is extracted by Quick Fields, then organized and stored in the Laserfiche repository. From there, TAMUK departments selectively print only the purchase orders or vouchers they need, bypassing the remote mainframe. Response time to inquiries—both internal and external—has been greatly reduced. Multiple departments are able to access information simultaneously.

“We can quickly look up images of the purchase order or payment voucher and provide either copies or specific data elements in seconds rather than hours,” says Tina Livingston, Director of Budgets. “Previously, we had to go to file cabinets (sometimes in different offices), pull folders and make copies. Now, we look them up in Laserfiche and e-mail them to the customer.”

With such a successful integration of systems, Stephens says, “Several of the other A&M schools have expressed interested in following suit and implementing their own Laserfiche-FabSoft integration.”

Enterprise-Wide Results

Today, 200 users have access to Laserfiche, with approximately 45 users accessing the system on a daily basis—which is only 25% of TAMUK’s projected use. While TAMUK is saving on paper, labor, mailing and storage costs, the real benefit of using Laserfiche, Stephens says, has been in changing the mindset of TAMUK’s staff and administrators, inspiring the adoption of new ways of working.

“Laserfiche can do so much more than we first envisioned,” he says. “We’ve been able to expand it from a simple storage repository to a system that controls the workflow of our documents and maximizes efficiency.”

Though Laserfiche is now primarily used within Administrative Services and offices within departments, Stephens says that collaborative content management is the next phase—and TAMUK is looking to Laserfiche Workflow to drive it. “Workflow is going to be the real tool for efficiently managing documents between departments. It’s going to deliver huge benefits,” Stephens says. He predicts that TAMUK will see exponential growth in process change.

As for his take on the Laserfiche Run Smarter® Philosophy, Stephens offers this advice to new users: “For TAMUK, Laserfiche has been a business-process change agent—it showed us solutions to problems we hadn’t even considered before. Think of Laserfiche as an initiative, not just an application.”

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Shaking Up Shakopee’s Approach to ECM Tue, 08 Feb 2011 16:44:54 +0000 Meghann Wooster When making the case for upgrading Shakopee, MN, to Laserfiche Avante, Carrie Duckett, the city’s Information Technology Coordinator, did her due diligence. “To date, there hasn’t been one Minnesota city that’s purchased Laserfiche and left for one of its main competitors. But in 2010 alone, six of the state’s cities and counties migrated onto Laserfiche from a competitive system.”

She ticks off a few of the benefits that give Laserfiche a leg up on the competition: “First, Laserfiche is easy to use, because it looks and functions like Windows and Google. Second, it’s stable and easy for the IT Department to maintain. Third, it has an open API that makes it easy to integrate with our other applications.”

These benefits, Duckett notes, are vital to Shakopee, which has a two-person IT Department supporting approximately 125 city staff in nine different departments. In fact, if Laserfiche wasn’t easy to use, maintain and integrate, the city wouldn’t have considered shaking up its approach to enterprise content management (ECM) by upgrading from four concurrent users to a 50-user Laserfiche Avante system.

Leading Up to the Upgrade

“We first implemented Laserfiche in 2005, using it to manage building permits through an integration with our PIMS building permit software,” Duckett explains, outlining how the process works:

- “We print barcoded permits that our records clerk scans into Laserfiche Quick Fields, which is an automated data capture solution.
- “Within Quick Fields we have an ODBC connection that connects to the PIMS database.
- “Quick Fields pattern matches the permit address, permit type and permit ID and automatically archives the document in the Laserfiche repository.”

She also notes that the city has long used Laserfiche to manage council agenda packets and other miscellaneous items, some of which are made available to the public through Laserfiche WebLink, a Web browser-based thin client that provides read-only access to public information.

The desire to upgrade the system came last year, when the Police Department hopped on the Laserfiche bandwagon. “In October 2010,” Duckett says, “the Police Department started using Laserfiche for evidence photos, and we integrated Laserfiche with New World, the PD’s case management system, to enable officers to automatically open photos that pertain to specific cases.”

The integration works as follows:

- Officers access an incident report in New World.
- By right-clicking on the New World screen, a box with a “Search Laserfiche” button pops up.
- Clicking the button launches Laserfiche and automatically takes the user directly to the right case folder, where he can view the evidence photos.

Jennifer Boudreau, Shakopee’s Police Records Technician, explains that one way the PD leverages the integration is to track graffiti, making it easier for officers to identify all instances of a tagger’s work so the city can recoup clean-up costs.

She also notes that Laserfiche allows officers to access photos in the field from their squad cars, which is something they couldn’t do in the past. “It’s an officer safety issue,” she says. “For example, if the officers come across a tagger with a known gang affiliation, they can treat that individual with more caution.”

Boudreau notes that in the past, search options were limited. With Laserfiche, officers can search photos by case number, but they can also search based on the metadata associated with each photo. This makes it easier to discern patterns that might not have otherwise been apparent.

Now that Shakopee has upgraded to Laserfiche Avante, the Police Department is looking forward to scanning all case files into the system. “Right now, case documents are contained in a paper file, which eliminates collaboration and the ability to work on the case at the same time as someone else,” says Boudreau. “As a result, we end up doing a lot of photocopying, which wastes paper. It can also get confusing to have so many copies of the same document floating around, because you never know which is the most current, complete version.”

Further, she explains that Laserfiche will be able to store more than copies of paper documents; where applicable, electronic case files will also contain audio files, squad car video and so on.

Since the Upgrade

Less than a month after implementing its 50-user Laserfiche Avante system, Shakopee has already brought the Finance Department onboard. It now uses Laserfiche Quick Fields to scan barcoded accounts payable documents into the repository, where they’re instantly searchable from the desktop.

“With the upgrade to Laserfiche Avante, which for us included the ‘Barcode and Validation’ and ‘Real Time Lookup and Validation’ packages, we can now use the pattern matching feature in Quick Fields, which automatically creates the folder structure in Laserfiche,” explains Duckett. “This creates a more efficient and seamless process for the users who scan documents into the system.”

She adds that once the Police Department starts using Laserfiche for its case files, it will use Quick Fields for its scanning, as well.

The next department to start using Laserfiche will likely be HR, which wants to use the system to digitize employee records and automate the hiring process using Laserfiche Workflow, a business process management tool that automatically performs specified actions (such as document routing) based on organizations’ unique business rules.

According to Duckett, this is just the beginning. “We hope to have every department using Laserfiche by this time next year.”

Additional Integrations

With the New World integration well underway, and the integration with the city’s PIMS building permit software already in place, Shakopee has big plans for linking Laserfiche to additional city applications. “Next, we plan to integrate Laserfiche with GeoLink, our GIS/mapping application,” says Duckett. “When you click on a land parcel, you’ll be able to launch Laserfiche and pull up all the documents associated with that particular piece of land.”

This functionality will be useful for multiple departments, including:

  • The Police Department, which will use it for crime mapping.
  • The Fire Department, which will be able to quickly retrieve building plans during emergencies.
  • The Public Works Department, which will gain easy access to sewer information.

She goes on to explain that the city is also looking to integrate Laserfiche with JDE, Shakopee’s finance, payroll and HR software. “By integrating these two systems—and taking advantage of Laserfiche Workflow—we’ll be able to simplify the payment cycle with electronic invoices and purchase orders that can be automatically routed through the approval process. Once we digitize our HR records, we’ll be able to automate the hiring process as well.”

From Duckett’s perspective as an IT professional, the best thing about the planned integrations is how easy they’ll be to set up. “Because Laserfiche is used across so many cities and government entities, there are a lot of proven, pre-built integrations available to us at no additional cost.”

Laserfiche Avante = Affordability

In terms of cost-effectiveness, Duckett also appreciates how affordable it was to upgrade to Laserfiche Avante. “If we’d stayed with a concurrent user system and simply purchased the additional functionality and users we needed, it would have cost us $40,000 more than the upgrade to Laserfiche Avante,” she explains. “Plus, our named users now have 24/7 access to information, which is important from a productivity standpoint.”

She concludes, “Although it’s early in the implementation process, we’re starting to see financial and efficiency savings in the Finance, Building and Police Departments. Once we extend Laserfiche to all city departments and start creating workflows, we expect to save a lot more on paper and printing costs, and we also expect to greatly enhance employee efficiency.

“It’s our goal to have Laserfiche installed on every desktop in the city. We envision that it’ll be used as often as our e-mail client, providing instant access to records, streamlining business processes and allowing us to move data across multiple platforms.”

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Schooled on the Benefits of Content Management Mon, 31 Jan 2011 17:16:26 +0000 admin As the IT Director for Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) in Ontario, Canada, Mike Hiltz provides IT leadership and proactively brings technology opportunities to HWDSB’s various departments. Several departments within the district were already using Laserfiche to manage content, and Hiltz knew that expanded deployment could help the school board solve many of the issues it was having with content organization, storage and access—not to mention save a significant amount of time and money.

The Facilities Services/Plant Management Department was using Laserfiche to digitize content like electrical drawings and floor plans, but other departments still relied on third-party storage and manual search methods. Filing, storing and locating records were not only extremely difficult processes, but also very time consuming.

“Managing primarily paper records in an organization of our size was often a slow, arduous and expensive task,” says Hiltz. “We were forced to rely on outside storage facilities, and manual workflow processes were extremely inefficient.”

In addition to eliminating the need for paper storage altogether by building a digital records repository, HWDSB also needed to improve its ability to readily locate records—both for faster customer service and easier compliance with government regulations.

Compliance Complications

The Ontario Ministry of Education requires a student’s records to be kept for five years after the student graduates, while other information is to be held for 55 years, including:

  • Student transcripts.
  • Special education information.
  • Disciplinary records.
  • Copies of diplomas and certifications.

In a district of 50,000 students and 7,000 employees, this amounted to an enormous quantity of records that were on paper, CD-ROMs or microfilm—often stored in boxes in basements of schools that had the extra space. “If someone graduated in 1960 and contacted us for a copy of their diploma, we had to take the time to manually search through each box until we found the record,” Hiltz explains.

Overhauling Old Methods

In an effort to overhaul its paper-based approach to content management, streamline processes in multiple departments and ease regulation compliance, Hiltz pushed for change. “The IT Department began an education campaign around content management. We held information sessions and group discussions to figure out how additional departments could use Laserfiche and if it was the right choice across the board.”

Turns out it was: Citing ease of use as the number-one selection criteria, Hiltz says that the scalability of Laserfiche allowed HWDSB to roll it out at a workable cost, expanding use by one department at a time.

“The biggest user of Laserfiche is the Director’s—or Superintendent’s—Office,” he says. There, the Director and other senior officials use Laserfiche on a daily basis, not only as a mechanism for storing records, but also to manage:

  • Committee meetings and minutes.
  • Trustee meeting agendas.
  • Ontario policies and procedures.

Hiltz’s own IT Department also uses Laserfiche to manage its forms, invoices, purchase orders and records. Rather than wait for other departments to respond to information requests—which entailed locating the information, making necessary copies and then sending them over—now Laserfiche allows authorized users to retrieve records themselves from the Laserfiche repository. “All of the departments working with Laserfiche are eliminating storage and getting rid of excess paper, but we’re also focusing on improving interdepartmental access to records and making them faster to retrieve.”

In addition to IT, Facilities and the Director’s Office, HWDSB deployed Laserfiche in Business Services as well. “Accounting, Payroll, Purchasing—they all use Laserfiche now. When it comes time for audits of our invoices and purchase orders, everything we need is easily accessible,” Hiltz explains. “Previously, we had to send this information to offsite storage, which made retrieval extremely difficult.”

Winning Results

HWDSB was pleased to see several immediate benefits after expanding its Laserfiche implementation, including:

  • A reduction in the need for offsite storage.
  • Optimization of office space.
  • Easier compliance with government mandates and a streamlined auditing process.
  • More efficient use of staff time.
  • Quicker searchability and accessibility of records.

“Laserfiche has become a part of how people do their jobs on a daily basis,” Hiltz says. “It’s evident people are committed to using it—it’s just a more efficient way to operate.”

A substantial amount of paper has been removed from HWDSB’s offices as files can now be accessed from the secure Laserfiche repository, both optimizing much needed office space and allowing the staff to work more efficiently.

“Laserfiche has allowed our staff to work more productively, saving our Board money and providing us with the confidence that we can quickly access critically important documents when needed,” Hiltz continues. “Staff is able to complete tasks in a fraction of the time and reduce the possibility of lost or late arriving documents.”

Positive Projections

In addition to using Laserfiche for enterprise content management, Hiltz says that HWDSB is also working to develop a SharePoint Enterprise Portal, with plans to use Laserfiche as the ECM component to provide content management, search and retrieval and Workflow automation. The integration will enable staff—and eventually students and their parents—to access documents stored in the Laserfiche repository right from the portal, eliminating the need to launch Laserfiche separately or toggle between screens. Staff-related documents types will include:

  • Staff benefit statements.
  • Vacation requests.
  • Professional development portfolios.
  • Mileage requests and reimbursement claims.

Staff will be able to log into the portal from anywhere and search information stored in Laserfiche. “One of the keys to this integration is the ability to instantly search for documents. Laserfiche makes it so easy,” says Hiltz.

Although HWDB is still at the beginning stages of implementing Laserfiche Workflow, Hiltz says that the organization is planning to use the full range of BPM functionality. The Director’s Office is eager to use Agenda Manager, while the HR department is very interested in using Workflow to automate processes for job applications, benefits information and staff records. “Using Workflow to complete forms and requests, while integrating with the portal, will boost efficiency in paper-heavy departments like HR immensely,” Hiltz explains.

HWDSB also has plans to make Laserfiche a part of its education initiative called 21st Century Fluencies. “We’re asking, ‘How can teachers teach like they’ve never taught before?’ The classroom needs to prepare students for careers, and of course technology is a huge part of that,” says Hiltz. “Both students and teachers are adjusting to learning and teaching with technology, and Laserfiche is the perfect fit with the idea of paperless classrooms—where reference materials, student papers, grades and so on are accessed and organized electronically.”

Hiltz concludes that HWDSB decided to expand its Laserfiche implementation because it is “far superior” to other ECM systems. “Even if Laserfiche is implemented in individual departments at first, the benefits are clearly enterprise-wide. It’s definitely important to focus on working toward implementation across the entire organization.”

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User-Friendly, Departmentally-Flexible, Globally-Applicable Thu, 27 Jan 2011 15:54:31 +0000 Hobey Echlin ECOM is a global commodities company headquartered in Dallas, TX, trading cocoa, cotton and coffee between 40 offices in 30 countries. “Columbia, Chile, Honduras, all the i-stans—if they’re growing an agricultural product, we’re there,” says Willa Zandi, IT Director. The Dallas office, for instance, is the company’s hub for cotton trading.

With ECOM’s global reach comes the potential to standardize business processes common to every office. Zandi had long been a proponent of using technology to standardize and streamline repeatable business processes, but she also knew departmental adoption could only come from answering a user-driven need for practical application.

When two of the 10 departments in ECOM’s Dallas office came to Zandi with what she recognized as a need for an electronic document management system (EDMS) in August of 2009, she saw an opportunity to introduce full-scale ECM/BPM functionality into the company, one familiar process at a time.

“I’d been preaching the importance of using workflow and document imaging, but I didn’t have any business groups with that burning need,” she says. “Then a year ago our tax and real estate departments each came to us with some ideas about streamlining and automation, and we told them, ‘If all your documents were electronic, you could.’”

Hitting the Ground Running—with the Vision to Go the Distance

ECOM had a relationship with Jeff Flory of Dallas-area reseller Datamax Technology Group, who suggested Zandi look into Laserfiche as an ECM solution agile enough to answer ECOM’s pressing needs while also possessing the potential to expand in size and scope. “Laserfiche was easily the most user-friendly solution we looked at, but it was also scalable to meet more and bigger needs as we evolved the system,” Zandi recalls.

ECOM purchased a 25-user pilot system with Audit Trail and the Laserfiche SDK with an eye toward future integrations, expanded deployment and automated business processes —once the immediate document management fires had been put out.

“We had the vision for BPM and automation upfront,” she says. “The important part for me was the Workflow and the scalability. We started with the two departments that were on fire, and we’re capturing that momentum to implement Laserfiche in other departments. The system lends itself to that flexibility.”

First up were HR and Accounting. Zandi explains, “HR saw that it could use Laserfiche for archiving and historical information, while Accounting could jump in with day-forward scanning of active records.”

Operational improvements followed these departmental implementations. For example, “Our Treasury Department has a variety of companies depositing checks and money. Those checks are now automatically scanned, so that when the bank receives checks it no longer copies them—and a notification that the bank has the check is automatically printed in Laserfiche as well,” says Zandi.

Unanimous User Adoption, Magnanimous Enterprise Expansion

Building on this initial success, ECOM is now upgrading from its pilot system to Laserfiche Rio with a goal of standardizing content and business process management worldwide. “Rio makes sense for us because it gives us the flexibility to add servers and licenses incrementally, in whatever way we need to,” Zandi explains.

Currently, the system is being rolled out to more departments in ECOM’s Dallas headquarters—with unanimous adoption. “The familiar interface, being able to save searches, being able to use sticky notes—these are things that helped people catch on right away,” she says.

Zandi is confident that Laserfiche’s ease-of-use is paving the way for bigger and better things for the enterprise by encouraging users to do bigger and better things with their information. “Laserfiche is flexible enough that departments can implement it in a way that mirrors their current system, but once they’re comfortable, they can say, ‘I don’t even need a folder, now I can start thinking about changing my business,’” she says.

That change, she says, will come from implementing business process management (BPM) initiatives using Laserfiche Workflow. To that end:

  • ECOM is working with Datamax to integrate Laserfiche with its Navision accounting software to set up distributed approval A/P processing for 10+ departments. Invoices will be automatically updated, then filed according to payment type and date using Workflow.
  • The Real Estate Department is planning to integrate Laserfiche with its Timberline accounting system to update contracts and payment histories and file them automatically.
  • The HR Department plans to integrate Laserfiche with its ADP system to automatically create and update personnel folders.

The most extensive—and potentially impactful—use of Workflow, however, is in ECOM’s Traffic Department, which is developing 35 workflows with up to 250 different outcomes. “I can’t even get my head around it!” jokes Zandi. She credits the simplicity of the Workflow Designer for lending itself to such an extensive deployment. “Workflow is created graphically—the Designer is essentially drag and drop, so you don’t have to know Fortran to use it.”

With an operational model and foundation in place, Zandi says ECOM is well on its way to standardizing its approach to content management worldwide using Laserfiche Rio. “This is where the scalability of Rio is so, so important,” she explains.

“Once we have integrations with the ERP up and running in our office, we can roll it out to our offices around the world literally overnight,” Zandi says. “We’re developing what has the potential to be the global, centralized ECM/BPM standard for the company’s business processes. Even before we’ve done all our analysis or know where that infrastructure will go and how our repositories will break out, we know Laserfiche has the scalability to do it.”

Willa Zandi’s Run Smarter® Philosophy

“For me, as an IT professional introducing technology-driven initiatives, success is powered by my effectiveness as a change agent. What I like about Laserfiche is that it has the flexibility and familiarity that allow users or departments to implement it in a way that mirrors their current system and how they think right now. That’s really important, because once they’re comfortable and see what’s possible, they’re saying, ‘I don’t even need a folder, now I can start thinking about changing my business.’

“Laserfiche is introducing ECM and BPM into our organization in way that gets users thinking about how they use the information—not the piece of paper.”

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