How the Township of Springwater Got Everyone On Board with Laserfiche
Contributed by: Tony Persson, IT Coordinator and Jennett Mays, EA/Communications Coordinator, Township of Springwater, ON, Canada
When we finally got the go-ahead to implement Laserfiche at the Township of Springwater, we knew that it was going to take some time. We knew that implementing the software was not going to be the most difficult part—the hardest part would be changing the way people work, and making sure that they embrace the project.
“We can train people, we can give them the software, but they need to be on board with using it or you’re going to have more problems.” – Jennett Mays
Here is how we secured buy-in from members of our organization, and made sure that everyone embraced Laserfiche even before it was implemented.
Develop a shared vision
We put together a four-person team to spearhead the project, consisting of members with various skills from within the Township. In order to capitalize on the skills of each member, we selected one representative from each of the following areas of specialization:
- Information technology
- Records and information management
- Office administration
Our team met and discussed the various expectations that each department had regarding Laserfiche. We then molded the various visions into a single focused goal of implementing Laserfiche concurrently across the organization, with all existing hard copy and electronic information that would drive this project.
Start at the top and work your way down
Once we decided on a unified goal, we needed to secure buy-in from within the organization. We decided to start at the top, with the Council, and work our way down.
In this way, if staff had questions or concerns about Laserfiche, their supervisor had already been convinced of the validity of the project and was able to reassure them.
We approached every group differently. For example, in order to convince the Council, we wrote a report where we outlined the many benefits and efficiencies we’d gain from Laserfiche, including:
- Better use of staff time.
- Better customer service.
- Easier information access for both employees and the public.
For senior management, on the other hand, we focused more on how their day-to-day work and that of their employees would get easier.
Securing buy-in from end users was the most challenging. For that, we used the strategies outlined below.
Develop an identity
In order to personalize Laserfiche, we came up with an acronym to brand the project that would be easy to remember: SHARED
- Hub for
- Records and
In order to keep everyone on track and focused, we used this acronym consistently.
- Our repository is named SHARED.
- A SHARED logo appears on any Laserfiche related communication such as e-mail or posters.
- We spoke of “sharing” documents or looking for documents that have been “shared.”
Maintain open communication
In order to reinforce the idea of Laserfiche, our project team consistently communicated with staff at all levels. We sent branded e-mails regularly and hung posters all around the office. We also randomly stopped people in the lunchroom to ask them questions such as:
- What do you think of the project?
- Are you reading the updates?
- Do you have any questions/concerns with the proposed changes?
All of this made end users feel like they were included in all aspects of the implementation.
To keep senior management informed and help them answer questions posed by their employees, we presented frequently at their team meetings.
In order to address different types of learning styles, we spread the same message in different ways. For example, we described our new Mailroom process in written e-mails, but also created a representational diagram which we hung around the office and distributed as handouts.
We also encouraged end users to communicate with the project team.
- We created a single e-mail address to which users could direct questions and concerns. Since e-mail sent to this address was received by all members of our project team, someone could immediately reply.
- The project team hung “Ask Me” posters encouraging people to come in and ask questions about SHARED on their office doors.
Help users change their old habits
A large part of the Laserfiche implementation involved breaking users of old habits.
Break down departmental silos
Every department had its own network drive or silo where it would store documents that were rarely ever shared with other departments. In order to help facilitate our goal of a single repository with various security classifications, we referred to our Records Retention By-law which outlined the rules governing the classification. We then sat down with users from every department and used this document to figure out how to classify all the files on their network drives. Following the same guide for every department allowed users to see exactly how we were basing the decisions.
Address the “piling” problem
A number of end users were used to organizing their workload by piling paper on their desks in order of importance. In order to get them away from paper, but to continue to keep them organized, we introduced to-do lists in Laserfiche. Users are able to create a prioritized list of linked documents (a Microsoft Word document stored in their personal folder with Laserfiche documents linked to it in order of priority) – a more managed, digital system that mirrors the way they were comfortable working.
Bridge the transition
In order to get buy-in from staff, it was important to make the transition to Laserfiche as painless as possible.
- We replicated the file structure that we were eventually going to have in our Laserfiche repository on each department’s network drive. This allowed the end-users to familiarize themselves with the new environment before launching Laserfiche.
- We decided to keep paper originals at the beginning of the project and then slowly phase them out until we were only using digital documents. This reassured users and alleviated their fears about digital documents.
We also developed a Quick Reference Guide to help users familiarize themselves with Laserfiche and the new retention policies.