Since 1960, the American Public Works Association has sponsored a week dedicated to public works professionals who are often times known as the unsung heroes of our society. This year, National Public Works Week falls on May 15-21, 2016. The special week raises awareness about different public works services that involve planning, building, improving, managing and operating the heart of living, breathing communities.
In a historic move for California, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the State Water Resource Control Board to implement mandatory reductions aimed to cut the state’s water usage by 25 percent. Individual cities and communities have been facing mandatory water reductions that range anywhere from 4 to 36 percent.
As a way to “Make Conservation a California Way of Life,” Gov. Brown issued an executive order on May 9, 2016, to make the temporary statewide emergency water restrictions more permanent. Although California received higher levels of winter rain and snow this year, there are still areas of the state facing limited drinking water supplies. Since experiencing the drought for the fifth consecutive year, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the State Water Board will require urban water suppliers to report information regarding water use, conservation and enforcement on a monthly basis. Ultimately, adjustments in the state’s emergency water conservation regulation will be made to enhance reductions in per capita urban water use by 2020.
In drawing attention to limited water supplies, the drought has highlighted an urgent need for government organizations to maintain access to clear and drinkable water for their communities. Below, you will learn about how Laserfiche ECM can strategically tailor two processes that are made more urgent by drought conditions: public records requests and mobile approval processes.
Information Governance Strategy
Public records can be requested on a variety of topics, but these requests can increase exponentially during a severe drought. City, county and state governments are under increasing pressure to improve electronic records management capabilities because each request or work order requires a response by a set deadline. Although it is necessary for government entities to deploy sophisticated archiving and retrieval systems, it is more important for them to create a smarter process that can be utilized interdepartmentally (i.e., by public works, the attorney’s office, community development, etc.).
Laserfiche’s records management system promotes positive results through its information governance capabilities. According to the article, “4 Things to Consider When Implementing Electronic Records Management,” the structure behind good governance includes:
- Developing an information governance strategy
- Evaluating certified records management systems
- Ensuring the electronic document can be legally presented as an official record
- Tracking the actions taken on the document
Now, let’s take a deeper look into the public records request process. Laserfiche Forms has the ability to collect and disseminate information expeditiously to help understaffed government organizations “do more with less.” For example, let’s imagine that a public records request enters the queue asking for information on water projects. When this happens, the public works department is immediately notified of the new request via email. Then, upon receipt of the request, Laserfiche ECM will send a confirmation email to the requestor stating that the information has been received and will follow up with a response within the required time period. This helps cities, counties and state agencies maintain compliance with public records mandates while streamlining the process of administering the request.
By setting up an electronic form or e-form, government organizations can provide citizens the ability to access public information electronically. By automating its records management process, the City of Ithaca, NY, received a return on investment in the following ways:
- Reduced its records processing time by 7,000 hours in the first year
- Slashed the average records request processing time by 35 percent
- Complied with New York state legislation requirements
- Eliminated the need for its citizens to physically visit City Hall to submit a public records request form
“Laserfiche allows us to take the burden and responsibility for compliance off individual employees, and moves it to a centralized and defined system. Not only can we ensure documents are stored as long as they are required, they are now also safe from accidental loss or tampering, and easily available,” says Julie Holcomb, City Clerk from the City of Ithaca, NY.
Process Automation from Mobile Devices
One of the great benefits of utilizing an ECM system is its ability to kick off routing and approval workflows straight from a mobile device. Let’s say that a capital improvement project (CIP) is underway to upgrade its storm water management program. In the past, government employees would have to frequently check to see if contractors were doing everything correctly and according to plan. The problem with this method is that a lot of time has been spent in the field with no access to the laundry list of pending items in the queue waiting for completion. By utilizing Laserfiche ECM, the Indio Water Authority created a more efficient CIP process that involved:
- Inspectors taking pictures using the Laserfiche App
- Inspectors selecting the correct document template to add pictures and utilize the mobile device’s speech-to-text feature
- Project managers having the ability to approve and reject processes in any location straight from their mobile devices
Government must take into consideration that business processes cannot come to a standstill just because key employees are out in the field. In information governance, it is critical for municipalities to streamline processes for capturing content, increasing efficiency and becoming more accessible directly from mobile applications.
As California enters its fifth year of drought, it is important to consider how the perception surrounding water has changed. For the first time in a decade, decision makers have been reminded that water is a scarce resource, and if conservation efforts aren’t implemented, this precious supply could be depleted. When high levels of lead were discovered in Flint, Mich., it highlighted the need for better practices, oversight and safety measures. Ultimately, Laserfiche ECM provides solutions that are easy-to-configure and scalable to meet either the needs of a single department or an entire organization. Different ECM tools can be customized to enhance the organization’s ability to capture shared-service and self-service opportunities. Today, Laserfiche ECM provides cutting-edge web-based government solutions and online mobile applications for tablets and smart phones. As a committed system, many government organizations can benefit in the following ways:
- Save staff time and reduce costs by eliminating paper and manual tasks such as photocopying, printing and filing
- Expedite processes with automated workflow to route documents to appropriate parties
- Provide a central repository to allow swift and simultaneous access to documents, photos, video, audio and other content by multiple parties
- Eliminate lost documents and assure that the most current version is being used
- Give staff mobile or web access to content and documents from the field
- Save, archive and secure documents without consuming valuable physical space
For more information about the benefits of process automation, download a copy of the complimentary white paper entitled “The New Answer to ‘Do More with Less'”