The City of Thousand Oaks, CA, purchased Laserfiche United in 1997 and upgraded to Laserfiche Avante in 2012. Antoinette Mann, Deputy City Clerk for Thousand Oaks, co-led both implementations. The upgrade allowed the city to streamline its agenda review and packet process, giving employees and residents more timely access to information.
Antoinette Mann shares her thoughts on the city’s upgrade and explains why agenda management necessitates document management and automation software.
How does Laserfiche help you perform your job duties?
The City Clerk Department is responsible for all the business records of the city. We use Laserfiche both externally and internally to access and retrieve records. This enables staff to access and share those records faster. The public also has access to various records, including City Council records.
You’ve been a Laserfiche advocate for several years. What has helped sustain this relationship?
Initially, it was the affordability of electronic records storage. Now, it’s the ability to upgrade the software so that it’s consistent with modern usage. Laserfiche listens to customers to add enhancements, increase information access and provide excellent customer service.
For instance, Laserfiche Web Access makes our employees feel more comfortable because it looks like Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer. Also, with the change from standalone to web-based systems, Laserfiche has given our off-site employees remote access to information they didn’t have before. Employees can access Laserfiche from phones, tablets, iPads and computers.
What did Thousand Oaks want to accomplish with a system upgrade?
The goal of the upgrade was to increase government transparency. With Laserfiche United, we would not have had access to the tools we needed to fulfill this goal. Increased access for employees and residents was a key factor in why we upgraded. Additionally, we wanted to implement a workflow and Laserfiche Avante allowed us to explore this possibility.
What made your colleagues most excited about the upgrade?
Being able to implement our agenda workflow, and in particular, automating our agenda review process, was the most exciting component of our upgrade. City Clerk staff was also excited about not having to perform upgrades on individual work stations. With Laserfiche Avante, we can upgrade our server and all users run the same version.
How did you determine an upgrade was necessary?
We knew if we stayed on the Laserfiche United platform, we wouldn’t have the ability to improve our operations and the City of Thousand Oaks has a goal to increase and improve governmental transparency. Society has become one of instant access. If residents can’t access public records through your website, it is time to consider that upgrade and become part of the technological society. Your employees will thank you for the efficiencies they will receive with a document management system.
For other organizations considering an upgrade, I recommend attending the annual Empower Conference so you can see what’s new with Laserfiche, what your options are for enhancements and what you may need to adjust as software administrators.
How has Laserfiche helped the city achieve its various goals throughout the years?
Initially, we purchased Laserfiche to improve customer service. We wanted to increase access to records that had previously been stored on microfilm. In our original plan, Laserfiche was only going to be accessed by employees, but we would have a public access kiosk in City Hall. In other words, you would still have to visit City Hall to view those records. Over the years, we did add a public portal to our website.
In 2012, we upgraded to Laserfiche Avante because we needed software that allowed us to automate processes and easily access records, which we achieved with Laserfiche Web Access. With the upgrade, the focus shifted from customer service to employee productivity.
Lastly, Laserfiche offered a credit to the city that was equal in value to our initial software purchase. We all have fewer funds available these days and must always ensure we are spending our resources wisely.
What do you think are the key components to a successful upgrade, from a project management viewpoint?
First, get buy-in from upper management. In our case, upper management had to see how the upgrade would increase productivity and access to records—plus they really liked the workflow component.
Next, break down your upgrade into components that will allow you to complete them successfully. We upgraded our software, then offered training to our employees. Laserfiche then began designing our workflow. We held weekly status meetings and conducted rounds of testing. Once completed, we trained staff, had then run live data in the system and used their feedback to enhance the workflow.
As the project manager, I kept management informed and provided timelines. I wanted to ensure the success of this project.
Want to see how the City of Thousand Oaks and other municipalities automated their agenda management processes? Download 5 Steps to Agenda Management Automation.