By Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft
Do More with Less Money in Less Time
In government, budgets are tighter, technology is aging and constituents are demanding more and are upset when things seem slow or when they can’t get timely updates or resolution.
One of the top strategies that agencies use to address this is to go paperless. Paper-driven processes are inherently inefficient because only one person can work on a document at a time. To overcome this, staff will adjust processes around the limitations of paper such as making multiple copies of a document which makes it a nightmare for maintaining official records.
The great irony is that many government agencies with slick public-facing sites are converting digital submissions into paper to get the work done. And to provide your constituents with online updates or access, someone has to turn the data or documents back into an electronic format again.
So how does going paperless with an enterprise content management platform (ECM) make government do more with less?
There are three key factors that have the potential to dramatically improve services to the public that you serve:
Reduce the Time Spent Organizing and Sorting Your Inbox
In a production environment, a significant portion of time is spent by employees organizing their day and figuring out what they have to do next for each file in their inbox. It’s not unusual to see paper files being carted around and handed out to employees to work or workers using bins under their desks. And if someone is out of the office, transitioning the work to someone else is complicated if not all the notes are in the file.
An ECM platform manages the incoming work by sorting them into buckets using pre-configured rules, balances out the load to prevent cherry picking and presents the various workers with the tasks they need to accomplish specific to the file. Whatever time was spent organizing and rifling through files, whether it’s 10-30% of their day, can now be focused on work. And when an employee needs a file to respond to an inquiry, files can be retrieved in seconds on the same call rather than taking minutes or hours and playing phone tag. And if someone is out for the day, all notes and files can be distributed to other staff with the click of a button or dragging a file to a user’s icon.
Now there’s no excuse for not having a clean desk.
Reduce Time Finding Supporting Documents
When looking at an application, you may need to view supporting information submitted by the application or accessing past case history. By having all the information there, automatically organized and sorted by the document type, you can make decisions quicker instead of digging through an old file box or suffering another paper cut by flipping through a file.
A big part of this is linking the ECM platform to your core business solution. This allows you, with a button click, to retrieve the documents related to the case you’re viewing in your core application. It also allows decisions recorded in the ECM system to update your core applications so you’re not duplicating your efforts and risking keying errors.
Let the Computer Do the Work
An ECM system without the ability to automate tasks is like a car without an engine—you end up having to do all the work. The real value in an ECM platform occurs when you can configure the system to do some of the mundane, repetitive tasks that rob you of the time needed to do the work that only people can do.
For instance, what would life be like if with the click of a button, an application is approved, automatically generates and prints an acceptance letter, updates a core system’s records or portal and notifies other individuals within an office or another agency for follow up? What took an hour before could be reduced to a few minutes or seconds. Boom! And now you leave the office at the end of the day having processed more cases but with a smile instead of a frown. And people are happy to see you on the street because you helped them and exceeded their expectations.
So how much can an ECM system improve your processes? It depends on the process and how many steps are involved. In a typical project, we see efficiencies go up anywhere from 25-75% (and sometimes a lot more).
For example, we reduced the time to locate employee files for National Heritage Academy from half a day to immediate access and reduced audit times by 54%. When faced with budget cuts forcing staff reductions, we saved the Prosecutor’s office in Ingham County, MI, $450,000 annually in labor savings while they were able to maintain the same workload. And we reduced the time for judges to sign child support cases from five days to one in a county court.
So, while there is some benefit to a basic ECM scan, store or retrieve, the real power comes when your department or office transitions to a digital workflow to manage the work.
How has an ECM platform made your life easier?
Coming in Part 2: Reducing Paper