Episode 009: 19 Ways Government Agencies Can Leverage Technology in 2019 – Part 1

Government agencies are constantly tasked with doing more with less: less money, less time, and fewer team members. But the information and services that you provide to your constituents is high in demand, which can put you in a tight spot. In part one of a two-part episode, Kevin Ledgister, marketing manager for ImageSoft (a reseller of Hyland’s OnBase solution), shares some quick tips for using OnBase to supercharge your agency’s efficiency.

Read Transcript
Kate Storey: Welcome to the Paperless Productivity Podcast where we give you the tips, tricks, and know how, to solve your biggest workflow challenges and bring greater productivity into your workplace every day.

Government agencies are constantly tasked with doing more with less: less money, less time, and fewer team members. But the information and services that you provide to your constituents is at high end demand and that can put you in a tight spot. We know you face quite a few daunting tasks in your daily work, but we also want you to know that there’s hope. Today we’re here to share ways to meet requirements without losing your mind and maybe even improve your workflow at the same time. So, if you work in a government agency, this podcast episode is for you.

Whether it’s a small benefit like improving processes to help cut costs during bill time, or putting the technology in place for a larger project such as a searchable, online public document repository, there’s so many different ways to be able leverage technology to benefit government agencies. Here today to shed some light on some of these benefits is Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager for ImageSoft. Since ImageSoft is a reseller of Hyland’s OnBase Solution, he’ll be sharing 19 quick tips today for using OnBase to supercharge your agencies efficiency.

Kevin, welcome to the show.

Kevin Ledgister: Hi, Kate. It’s actually great to be back again talking to an audience about all the ways that they can increase their productivity by transitioning to a paperless process. I will say this, though, it’s important to note that even though this is focused around what government agencies are doing, I think even if you’re not in a government agency, maybe you’re in an insurance environment or some other environment and you’re subscribing to a podcast or listening in but you may find some new tips that may be applicable to your organization as well. I just want to make sure that everyone in the audience knows that they may find some golden nuggets in here as well.
Kate: Excellent. That’s a good point. And before we dive in I also wanted to make a note that all of this information is going to be available in the show notes afterwards. So, if you’re not able to take notes right now, don’t worry. We’ll have everything available for you in the show notes afterwards.

All right, Kevin, so let’s go ahead and dive in. Tell me, what are the top ways that government agencies can leverage a technology solution like OnBase?

Kevin: Awesome. Well, I’ve got 19 of them because it’s the year 2019. I’m just gonna run through these and Kate, feel free to join in and add anything to that. Let’s dive in.

The first one I’m gonna talk about, number one is audits. It’s not usually the most fun one that we like to talk about but a detail audit if you have an OnBase system is that you can have a detailed audit of the entire process, who touched the document, who looked at it, who accessed it, who processed and emailed it, anything that you want to do. It just makes you so much more transparent for auditors wanting to take a look at how did something get processed, how was this actually handled, and it just reduces the burden on staff and employees in terms of having to track all those things and document everything. It just becomes a seamless way to do that. So that’s number one, making your audits that much more easier and streamlined and making outside auditors less intrusive in terms of interrupting your day. That’s number one.

Kate: Excellent.
Kevin: Number two is to find information to serve your constituents faster. That’s always one of the big challenges in a government agency is when constituents are calling in or emailing you and they’re looking for information. Being able to find information quicker is so much better. If you think about any typical government agency you have file cabinets of documents, you’ve got CAD drawings. For instance if you’re a county or a city, there’s all kinds of invoices and different transactional emails that are stored in a million different places. Responding back to constituents oftentimes takes hours or days just to find all that information and to report back and say, “Hey, here’s the status of where things are at” or “Here’s the information that you’re looking for” and being able to provide that.

Being able to have one system where all that information is stored inside one single system, whether it’s a project that you worked on or a building, whether it’s an employee file, whether it’s an invoice, whatever it’s going to be, or land records, having that all inside one system makes it so much simpler and so much easier for you to respond quickly back to your constituents and provide that exceptional level of customer service.

Kate: Yeah. I would imagine that the expectations are growing from the constituent side that this is going be easier to access, that they’re going to get a faster response. That’s probably a pretty important one.
Kevin: It is an important one, especially in the day of, we’re in a mobile age now where a lot of government agencies are putting things up for people to interact with them from a mobile device. But at the same time internally, they’re not always prepared for the mobile world. Having a system like that that can help them prepare for the mobile world and being that responsive just makes their lives so much easier.
Kate: That’s a great point.
Kevin: At number three, not a fun one because we’re talking about bill paying but for a lot cities, and county, and state agencies, being able to process and pay their bills faster, and quicker, and more accurately is so much more helpful. Not in just in terms of community relations but also sometimes there may be discounts that a government agency can take advantage of by paying a bill early as opposed to paying it late. You may even have a service-level agreements or policies within your department that says, “Bills should be paid within X number days.” Being able to have that process become much more controllable, being able to have those early payments bubble up to the top quicker, makes it so much better for you. It conserves some of your budget and it also makes just dealing with your vendors and your partners so much more of a better experience for them. That’s another one just in terms of bringing that whole invoice accounts payable process under control. It’s so much better for a government agency. That is number three.

Number four, think about all the millions of little tasks that you have that you’ve got this high-power computer sitting on your desk and yet you’re still doing a lot things manually and there’s no software application that you can go out and buy a solution for that takes care of those small pieces. That’s one of the advantages of having on OnBase system is that a lot of those little tasks that are time-consuming, that might involve 10, 12, different steps, that you would love to automate in the days of a computer that we wish would take six or seven of those off of your plate and have the computer does those, those are a lot of times the things that we identify with an OnBase that can take that off of your load, so it frees up to do the things which are more important and much more valuable in terms of what you bring to the table.

It allows the OnBase system to use the configurable workflow piece of it to actually hand off some of those other mundane tasks, repeatable tasks that you’re doing and have [inaudible 00:07:31] take care of it. That’s something that can make your day so much more peaceful, so much more satisfying that you get to do more valuable work and you’re allowing the dream of having computer do some of that mundane stuff that we’ve always wanted to get rid of but never could, now you have a way to do that.

Kate: Yeah, I can imagine. It’s a lot of those little tasks that end up taking up such a big chunk of your day. And it makes it harder to get to the more meaningful work for the day. That’s great to know that you can automate those little tasks and have them off your back.
Kevin: Yeah. For instance, a very simple one might be just a notification of receipt, for instance, where let’s say you’re in HR and you want to just alert everybody that sends you a resume that you’ve received their resume and it’s being considered, and once you’ve been considered, to have an email that goes out and says, “Thank you for your time but at this time we’re considering other candidates.” Whatever that is. Just something simple as that so that internally if you click a button that says, “Hey, I’m gonna reject this application” or “I’m gonna table it for another time,” the system will automatically send an email out for you. It’s such a huge time-saver, but such a big one that let’s people know what’s happening in your organization where you don’t actually have to type up the email and go into Outlook and type it up and maybe find that one that you’ve got saved and recopy the template over.

It just, it stores that template for you and just care of that. That’s just another way in terms of how you can free up by looking at all those little tasks and automating those so that you can focus more on … in the case of HR, for instance, looking at actual applicants and interviewing them and making those calls, and setting up appointments as opposed to sitting there and typing endless number of emails. Or in some cases some agencies don’t even do that all and people get frustrated because hey, “I applied and I never heard back from them.”

Kate: Never heard a response, yeah.
Kevin: Yeah, there’s no response. That could for anything, not just HR but it could be any particular process that you need to go through where you’re dealing with people from the outside, it’s just a way to have seamless communication. That’s just one way in terms using that con figural workflow to simplify those small tasks that we just don’t have systems for out there that you can just pop off the shelf. OnBase provides you with tool and a way that you can do that fairly easily.
Kate: Excellent.
Kevin: Let’s see, next one, number five. This is automatically linking your documents and content with your administrative system. So for instance, if you’re a government agency, whether you’re in HR, whether you’re in planning and public works, maybe you just have a county system that is just managing all of your data in there in terms of your accounting, in terms of plan records, whatever it is that you’re tracking in your systems. A lot of time we’ll have that data that’s in that system and then the documents exist in a file cabinets or they’re maybe scanned and stored on a file share somewhere, where maybe you have the basic document management system that you’ve been storing documents in, and to find [inaudible 00:10:48] documents you have to go in, open up another application, and do an actual manual search.

So one of the things that OnBase does that can make your life so much easier, and we’ve got many codeless ways of doing this, where it doesn’t actually touch your key administration systems, where you might be looking, for instance, [inaudible 00:11:06] in your administration system, for instance, you’re looking up an invoice, and you doubleclick on that invoice number, and up pops a window with that invoice. It’s from OnBase, but the user doesn’t even think about, or even realize it’s from OnBase. It just feels like it’s an extension of your administration system.

Or it could be a project where it pulls up, for instance, the project documents that you may have that are associated with that in an Excel spreadsheet that are associated with a particular project. So whatever administration system they’re using to manage your government agencies work [inaudible 00:11:40] to seamlessly tie the documents and [inaudible 00:11:44] with the data that you have in your administration system that makes for a seamless row of presenting that information to you in a way that just makes sense. And it makes you able to make those decisions quicker and you have better information, so you have better decisions, and faster decisions, by lumping those two together.

Number six. Just being able to track your physical records. That’s another big thing. In some government agencies there are laws that are [inaudible 00:12:13] that still require you to maintain paper copies of certain documents, and you can’t get rid of those but your office … it’s hard to store some of those within your office space, and you have a warehouse somewhere, or you’re storing them somewhere else, and you want to be able to just track those, and a lot of people have bought third-party systems that don’t do very well because now you’ve got your electronic documents in one system, and you’ve got your data in another system, and then you’ve got your digital documents being tracked in another system. And the three aren’t really talking to each other.

So by being able to create entries into your OnBase system that tracks your physical documents, and being able to check them in and check them out, and who has them, and where are they at, and being able to control that process, and if you do a search for documents, having those physical documents being listed alongside the electronic documents can be a huge time-saver, and it also makes you very aware and very responsive to any constituent requests in terms of having that information.

So it’s just another great way that you can manage they physical documents alongside with your electronic documents, and then when it comes time to [inaudible 00:13:25] or destroy those documents at some point in time, you also have a cohesive way of managing that, as well.

Number seven. Think about all your council meetings and preparing the agenda. One of the big things about OnBase is that it has a whole agenda management platform within it, so that you can manage agendas for board meetings, and council meetings, and it can record votes, and you can track the video along with that. And then also for the poor person that I feel sorry for that has to do it manually today in terms of tracking all the agenda items and putting all the associated documentation together, creating those big agenda packets to hand over to the different council members is a huge challenge. If there’s a last-minute change [crosstalk 00:14:13] can be very time-consuming to handle that.

So having an automated system that makes it easy to adjust not only the agenda in terms of which items appear first, or being able to add one at the last minute, add associated documents at the push of a button be able to automatically generate those packets, huge time-saver, makes the process so much more manageable, and it provides you a way eventually to share that out with the public, as well, if they want to see that, and maybe they want to go to a certain spot in the video to when they’re talking about an item of discussion, those on the agenda that they have an interest in makes it easy for them to jump around in the minutes video as well. It totally can revolutionize your whole agenda management process for a government agency.

Another way that OnBase can make your life so much better in 2019.

Kate: I feel like, I’m sorry to jump in but I think that this is one of those things, this is such a unique way of being able to use this system, that I think a lot of agencies, government or not, don’t really think about. When you have a larger organization like this, or like you said, something where you have to report out to the public, putting together an agenda and having people stay in formed and everything, and sometimes there is a very important, that’s why I laughed when you said about the last-minute change [inaudible 00:15:32] they have to change something and add it in and they’ve already made, what, at least dozens of copies if not hundreds depending on the size of the audience that they may be expecting or the size of the city that they may be working with.

What a huge issue that could become. Just one little change, but it’s an important one. I think this is a really, one of those ways that people may not have thought of how to use technology to benefit their agency. It’s a small thing but what a difference it can make when you’re franticly making copies before a pm council meeting, you know? That’s a really interesting way of using that.

Kevin: You’re absolutely right, Kate. And it you think about it, ’cause there are systems out that does agenda management, and it’s great, but the challenges you’re faced with is, what about all the supporting documentation that has to go alongside the agenda item.
Kate: Absolutely.
Kevin: Now you have to export those, or you have to call the people in Public Works, or you have to talk to people in Finance, you have to pull up all those documents together manually and attach it to that agenda item, either by scanning them in or managing hundreds of emails to make sure you get all the right attachments done, as opposed to if you’re already [inaudible 00:16:55] information in OnBase and confident OnBase, then you can pull that and attach it to those agenda items much easier, and it just becomes much manageable and easier to control.

There’s a huge [inaudible 00:17:06] to that and you’re right, it’s an area that we often don’t think about, but it’s one that can have a big impact just in terms of making the agenda process much more easier to manage and even more transparent to the public.

Kate: Absolutely.
Kevin: Awesome. Number eight. This is a fun one. Virtually every government agency has a ton of forms that are online, and a lot of those forms are just in a basic PDF form that you can kind of fill out online but you have to print them out and then mail them in or walk them into the government office. Sometimes people will create a HTML webform that you can fill certain things in. But the big challenge is what do you do with those forms that are state forms or official forms that you just can’t change? And they’re not designed to be processed electronically. You have to either fill them in online or print them out, or you print them out and fill them in manually with pen and ink and mail those in. It’s not very conducive to that process.

One of the great things about OnBase is that there’s a new tool that allows you to talk those PDF forms you really can’t do anything with and make those forms come alive where data can be stored and merged with that form and then submitted electronically. Or even if somebody has to print them out, at least now they’re printed out in a format where it’s machine print where you can use tools within OnBase to automatically read that information and process it much more accurately. And so that’s a huge bonus, something that we’re beginning to work with some of our customers on right now, we’re thinking that this is going to be a huge bonus for government agencies while we’re in this transition period where we’ve moved from these fixed PDF forms into something more dynamic and electronic.

This is a huge step in between that can help automate a lot of government agency processes. And almost every government process starts with some form of a form. And a lot of them are PDF forms that have been created and so this just gives you a whole new way to process those forms electronically and just simplify that process altogether. A huge tool for you. I think if you’re listening and you process a lot of forms, you got 20, 30, 40, 50 forms on your website that you’re just getting in via paper and raw PDF forms, I just want to let you know that there is hope and there is light at the end of the tunnel, and there is a different and a better way that you can do this.

Alright. Number nine. This is a small one but something that if you do this every day in terms of getting in emails or you need to store the actual email somewhere as part of a record because somebody made a commitment or a promise, or you need a record of that transaction of that discussion in an email, or if you received an attachment and today you’re taking that attachment you’re either printing it off and scanning it in, or it’s something that you have to save the attachment to your desktop and then open up some other [inaudible 00:20:11] and attach it to a document management system.

OnBase has a way right within Outlook that you can save an email directly into OnBase and also, or, save the attachments. You can do either email or attachment or both, or one or the other, and it’s just a nice, seamless way that you can store emails that have a record of a transaction or a record of a conversation along with the transaction so that when somebody looks at this later on, they can see the email discussion that went along with it, they can see the attachments [inaudible 00:20:43] documents, and that’s all contained within OnBase.

It just makes it easier for you to go back and refer and if something gets audited, or if somebody comes back and says, “Hey, I never made that promise” or “I never made that claim,” or made that assertion that they were actually going to perform XYZ, you now have a record if it’s done. Or if you sent something out saying, “Hey, this is something we’re willing to do” or “Here’s a record of what we said” in terms of a final judications of a case, it’s something that can also be thrown into the record along with OnBase, as well.

Much easier than trying to go back to an email backup and trying to search through everybody’s emails and [inaudible 00:21:25] big, massive search, you now can just automatically store it as part of that transaction, as part of that record and have that record, especially if you’re about to retire or move on to another job, now there’s that record in place that somebody can always go back and refer to and say, “Oh, so and so, when she was here, this is what she said here’s a record of the conversation with a constituent and now we have more data that we can go by, as opposed to somebody just taking notes on the side, maybe have an incomplete set of notes. Great tool to have. OnBase [inaudible 00:21:59] within your Outlook client that makes it easier for you to get those email attachments that are important to store.

Kate: I have to say, that is a really important point because with the turnover right now that we’re seeing a lot of baby boomers retiring, and a lot of these people that have been in these agencies and in these organizations for a very long time, and now we’re seeing massive waves of retirement. That’s a really important point because it’s that information transfer, that transfer of expertise that is making it, it could be really difficult if you were not able to have that transfer of information in person, being able to record all that information and have that available, that’s a really powerful thing and I think really important for what we’re currently looking at right now.
Kevin: It is. Some agencies, and we see this sometimes in the insurance industry, for instance, where when they have a claims discussion, they want to record the conversation and store that in as well, so that’s it’s great you can do that as well. But the other thing with that, along with OnBase, and we see this just with our own experience that the average government agency is going to experience anywhere from 11% to 17% turnover a year. Some years may have none and other years you might see more. If it’s election year you tend to see a bigger number of changeover so that factors into it as well, too.

So there’s always going to be, besides retirement, there’s always just going to be turnover. And every time there’s people turning over there’s always a loss of information, a loss of content, a loss of knowledge, and this is just one of the ways that you can help preserve some of that information and some of that knowledge and experience as to what happens.

Alright. So let’s take a look at number ten. Number ten is taking your [inaudible 00:23:54] process electronic. And this is super, super, super important for government agencies, anyone that needs to manage the buildings and permitting and applications, and looking at plans. OnBase will provide you a way to take that electronic [inaudible 00:24:11] where plans can be submitted to a portal. Electronically it goes into a workflow queue where internal inspectors and engineers can take a look at those plans, markup, they knows those plans right within OnBase, and then updates the portal again automatically and the outside contractors can grab ahold of those notes and suggest revisions and take a look at those, and send back revised plans.

One of the great things about the plan review process is that there’s a tool in there that can automatically look at changes. So if somebody submits a plan and says, “Hey, we want to build this structure on a spot of land,” and you write back and say, “Oh, by the way, you don’t have enough accessible parking spaces for the size of the building,” and they come back and say, “Hey, we made that fix,” but they may have made five or six other fixes, as well, and didn’t tell you about it, this tool can actually automatically identify those changes and let you know visually so you can see where those changes are and inspect those changes so somebody doesn’t try to slip something by you where you may not have noticed.

It’s just great to have a tool like that, not only to make the back and forth that happens with plans and then be able to track the [inaudible 00:25:28] so it’s probably a worthwhile process, you can request a final set of [inaudible 00:25:33] plans or sometimes things change through the middle of the construction process that nobody accounted for and a city inspector comes along and says, “Oh, by the way you need to make this change. We didn’t catch this during the review initially but now that we can see it visually constructed, your electrical panel needs to be moved over by six feet because it’s too close to your furnace,” whatever it is you need to have those changes being tracked and then a final set of plans being submitted.

Having that process from end to end to help you with that can just streamline that plan making process tremendously.

Kate: Now that was a lot of good information and we’re only halfway through that list. So we hope you’ll join us next time with Part 2 of Nineteen Ways that Government Agencies and Others can Benefit from Using OnBase in 2019.

Thanks again for joining us today for this episode of Paperless Productivity. This podcast is sponsored by ImageSoft, the paperless process people, which you can learn more about at imagesoftinc.com. That’s imagesoftinc.com. Join us next time where you’ll learn how to harness the power of technology, supercharge efficiency, and accomplish your organizations goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *