Contributed by: Michael Wells, Systems Administrator, Chesterfield County, VA
Tackling your first Laserfiche project may seem like a daunting task, because there are many details to keep in mind before and during implementation. Here are a number of tips for new administrators to ensure a smooth first deployment.
Perform upfront analysis
- It is very important to define your workflows ahead of time, figure out exactly who the users will be and work with them to clearly outline the processes involved. Make sure you write all of this down and go over every detail!
- Remember that Laserfiche will not fix bad business processes already in place. Alternately, good paper workflows may not necessarily translate to optimal electronic workflows.
- Ask yourself the question: How are you going to find the documents again?
Optimize your metadata
“You can live and die by your template fields.”
Folder browsing is fine with only 10 folders, but with 1,000,000 documents and hundreds of folders, it takes forever. Utilizing the search functions takes just a few seconds.
In order to maximize the usefulness of your search tools, you must first learn how to successfully work with metadata. Here are some helpful hints for setting up your template fields:
- Set field constraints and create drop-down menus to maximize data integrity.
- Limit the number of fields you have. Just because you can automate data entry doesn’t mean that you should have 50 fields. Using just a few, well thought-out fields, is a much better option.
- Make sure to assign metadata during the actual scanning process. The “dump it all in, we’ll fix it later” philosophy never works.
Master the “people challenge”
The largest challenge in setting up a Laserfiche project is the “people challenge.”
“Software gives you the same result every time, but people don’t.”
- Be smart with security.
- Assign users only the rights that they need to perform their job, and no more.
- Be careful with assigning “delete” rights—if users keep deleting documents it is a security issue, not a Laserfiche issue.
- Make sure to train the users upfront, especially those who have rights to be potentially destructive.
- Centralize processing. It’s easier to train one person as a scanner operator then to train 20 people to scan arbitrarily.
- Reduce human error by automating as much as possible.
- Get help and support from other people, such as members of a user group or your VAR.
- Force people to use the search functionality by taking away browsing rights.
- Clearly define staff roles. Select someone to be a “Laserfiche Champion” in each department and let that person be the expert and handle Laserfiche-related questions.
Set up your first repository in eight steps
- Start with one document type and grow from there.
This will help everyone get comfortable with Laserfiche.
- Define the workflow. Make sure you know how each process works. Speak with all potential users.
- Define the metadata. If you don’t have good fields, then your whole Laserfiche implementation will not work.
- Define the security. Think in terms of groups, not individuals. If you have one person who needs to perform one function, make this into a group. That way, if that person leaves the company, it is easier to transfer their security access and function to someone else performing the same job.
- Test as much as possible before the launch. Pretend that this system is live and have all users test it as much as they can.
- Train the users. Make sure to do this ahead of time, not after the Laserfiche system has already been deployed.
- Deploy the system. Make sure that everyone knows exactly when you are going to go live.
- Review and identify the next round. A month after going live, analyze the results. What is the next step?