Governments that are working to save money and provide better customer service are looking into enterprise content management (ECM) technologies such as document management software, according to a recent study by the Center for Digital Government.

The study, Reinvesting in Document Management, surveyed more than 200 state officials, and reported the following findings: 

·         More than 80 percent of respondents said better document management capabilities are a high priority

·         41 percent said a key driver of electronic document management is the ability to streamline workflows

·         70 percent are actively reinvesting in their document management technology

State governments are either moving to such systems for the first time, or migrating up from existing document management systems because of the need for more sophisticated functionality than existing systems offered. For example, take cost savings. “Eliminating the cost of warehouses to store paper records is a given,” notes the report. “Now agencies want to reduce staff time for processing those documents through automated features for routing, tracking and integration with other systems.”

These governments hope to gain this improved workflow through configurability, which supports diverse organizational structures, content needs, and work processes, as well as digital forms and document capture with automatic error recognition, tagging and metadata detection—including capture and uploads on mobile devices, CDG writes. This also requires a clear user interface that makes all content types easy to search, retrieve, and, when appropriate, share with others, CDG adds.

Needless to say, all of this has to come with improved security, as well as compliance with the Department of Defense’s DoD 5015.2 records management standard, the report notes. Modern document management software can help improve workflow in a number of ways, according to the report: 

  •  Reduce time lags and bottlenecks for approvals, especially for routine processes that use standard forms and defined rules
  • Eliminate unnecessary and duplicate documents and processing steps through shared access to a central document repository
  • Enable easier retrieval of older or archived documents for case management, a current project, or a public records request
  • Ensure users see all of the content they need to respond to a constituent request, make a decision, or take the right action
  • Support consistent, collaborative information sharing across organizational boundaries for timely coordination of work activities and service delivery
  • Help government staffers work more effectively with residents and businesses through document access and capture on mobile devices

The agencies that can most take advantage of document management software? State health and human services (HHS) departments, many of which are dealing with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, and agencies that handle claims, licenses, and permits, CDG writes.

In the report, CFG profiles the Alabama Department of Mental Health, which offered the following four pieces of advice: 

1.       Inventory the documents you’ll want to manage and the system integrations that will be needed

2.      Obtain buy-in from agency leadership to encourage adoption of the new document system

3.       Determine the document management capabilities that will be needed in the near term and in the       future, then look for a product with the best fit

4.       Create policies for document handling and retention that reflect the capabilities of the new system

Claims, licenses, and permits are a special case that particularly can take advantage of document management functionality, CDG writes:Claims, licenses, and permits are a special case that particularly can take advantage of document management functionality, CDG writes: 

  • They often produce large volumes of records to manage, as well as lengthy retention periods
  • Depending on the time of claim, license or permit, the record could include multiple content types, such as an image, video, email, blueprints, electronic map, or computer-aided design (CAD) file, as well as standard-size, text-only document or form
  • Increasingly, citizens and businesses expect to do everything related to a license or permit through the agency website, from submitting the application to paying fees, obtaining status updates, and receiving the final documents after approval
  •  They often require collaboration between multiple departments and multiple agency software systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and geographic information systems (GIS)
  • Increasingly, employees such as inspectors, planners, compliance auditors and other field staff need to access stored documents and participate in automated workflows from mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops

With government being what it is, it’s unlikely that the amount of content it generates is going to decrease in the future. But a document management system can make the content less arduous to deal with and help cut through the red tape. 

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