Weathering Shallow Roots

If you’ve ever taken a stroll through a woodsy path, you’ve probably been over towered by some pretty time-worn trees. And if you’ve endured a heavy wind storm, you’ve probably seen some neighbors’ trees come towering down. So why is it that certain trees can weather years’ worth of wind, storms and other natural disturbances and still stand tall while other trees of the same size cannot?

To find the answer, simply trace their roots. Having to dig deep for water and other nutrients, trees of the wilderness tend to have strong, deeply embedded roots. Home-grown trees, on the other hand, might have enjoyed water from sprinkler systems or rainier climates and have not had to work as hard. Spoiled as they might be, these home-grown trees are the biggest threat to our communities as they’re the first to fall.

So when a tumultuous season storms your department, will your processes be rooted in a secure, time-tested system? Or will its surface-level depth cause your customer service to come crashing down?

181_storm

What Kind of Forecast are We Talking About?

A while back, we warned you about the silver tsunamis where retiring workers are flooding years of procedural and informational know-how out of your organizations. We also explained how winter weather and comfort foods are discouraging constituents from fulfilling residential responsibilities, and the new innovations that are now allowing constituents to engage wherever they are.

But the perfect storm will inevitably hit when one or both of those contributing inefficiencies is coupled with a slammed governmental department.

As a matter of fact, this is exactly what happened to a public utility company when trying to service more than 203,000 customers by manually passing documents from desk to desk, leaving personally identifiable information exposed in broad daylight. They eventually made their way out of the squall after cultivating a more secure working environment, but they’ll tell the full story much better than we can during Velocity 2019.

So How Can I Bolster My Roots?

Let’s start with where you are.

If, like our utility company customer, you are still pushing papers around your office, you should start to seriously consider going paperless. The concept and process of “going paperless,” however, tends to be misunderstood. So much so that we penned a short eBook defining and mapping out the paperless process to help others speak our language and better understand that the concept is much more than digital storage and retrieval.

But maybe you’ve already tried branching into the paperless realm with an enterprise content management system (ECM) or document management system (DMS), but it’s no longer absorbing the new functionality and opportunity your organization needs to grow. The shallow depth of your current system is inhibiting your roots from digging deeper into automation and, because of its age, is also too complex and expensive to continue investing into. If this is where you are, it’s time to turn a new leaf and explore a modern-day ECM, DMS or other government-centric solution that will enrich your processes, nourish your staff and constituents’ needs and save you the time, money and trees you intended to preserve in the first place.

We Want to Hear From You!

Where are you currently planted – in an office inundated with paper, with a legacy system that’s keeping you shallow, or with blossoming government solution that grows with your department’s ever-changing needs?

Respond in the “comments” section below or on our Government Solutions showcase page. We read and respond – promise!

February’s Resolutions for Insurers

The LifeHack website posted a blog recently called Why You Should Start Your New Year in February. It resonates for many reasons. For parents, the New Year starts in September when the kids go back to school. For some companies, the fiscal year starts in October or June, so January is more of the same. The post-holiday letdown makes January resolutions doomed to fail.

179_febresolutionInstead of January New Year resolutions, the idea is to hit the ground running with those resolutions in February.

For insurers, February is the month to resolve to improve customer communication management and automation.

Customer Communication Management for Insurers

Your February resolution to improve customer communication management will drive better customer relations. Insurers thrive when they have a complete view of their customers and manage customer information and communication with automated, integrated systems.

Today’s insurer needs more customer contact beyond point of renewal and claims filing, and to be nimble enough to manage that contact in a strategic way.

Better customer communication management comes from automating key systems and streamlining information management. It delivers on three major goals:

  • Drives customer intelligence – With better enterprise document management tools, insurers gain insights about their customers, see patterns and predict the choices they will make. This makes insurers more engaged service providers, tailoring offerings to the customer to fit their choices. Personalized interaction also builds trust. Having access to the critical content needed to understand and predict a policy holder’s needs provides that personalized interaction.

    Agents and customer service reps need ready access to the data to solve customer issues, predict their needs, retain and upsell the customer by delivering relevant and personalized customer experiences.

  • Enables predictive analytics – By connecting systems and information, insurers can create predictive analytics by extracting information from existing data to discover patterns, future outcomes and trends. They can gain actionable insights to make data-driven decisions throughout the insurance lifecycle. It adds understanding of how customers might react to promotions, for example, and can help improve claim performance and underwriting results. At the same time, it can detect fraud or payment abuse.

    When customer information is disconnected in system siloes or not managed in a document management solution, predictive analytics are impossible.

  • Prescribes customer alignment – Insurers want to be able to segment customers by contribution, allowing for efficient resource allocation and business process alignment. Having a complete view of the customer means they can be grouped with like-minded customers to create personalized communication by group or segment. It means knowing your customer and growing revenues and margins from high contribution customers while lowering costs from low or negative margin customers.

Make February’s Resolution Digital Transformation  

If your customer data is siloed, your technology systems don’t talk to each other, or you still have paper-based systems, you won’t manage critical content effectively to have good customer relations and provide strategic customer support. How you make decisions, manage processes, and provide customer service depends on the systems and technology connecting the information.

Better and faster communication with customers, coupled with innovations to meet customer needs, are the focus of the digital transformation required for insurer success in the 21st century.

Digital transformation is about building strong customer relationships by implementing innovative technology, embracing a digital workflow and becoming a paperless office. Consumers want products and services that resonate with their personal needs, delivered in a way that includes a sincere relationship with their carrier.

By leveraging digital processes, alternate providers and InsurTech disrupters are having an impact on customer information management:

  • Insurance premiums are becoming more personalized with tech-enabled insight from wearables, mobile and other data gathering devices. Digitally intelligent insurers can build insight through relationships that exist across data sets.
  • Lifestyle apps and digital engagement are affecting relationships between the insurer and the insured. If an insured is engaging with the insurer and its lifestyle apps, insurers benefit from greater insight and more informed risk assessments.
  • Claims settlement is becoming faster, automated and a self-service process. Manual claims processes mean insurers spend too much of a customer’s premium on the claims process. InsurTech disruptors are putting the process in the customer’s hands with an automated review of claims, and decisions and payout approvals all automated.

Achieving That February Resolution

Your February resolution should be to connect with the right-fit partner to improve customer information management and digital transformation. The goal is to connect systems and achieve a complete customer view. The appropriate enterprise content management solution (ECM) should centralize all types and formats of critical content and integrate with your core line-of-business systems, giving users access to relevant data directly from familiar system interfaces, such as Guidewire or Duck Creek.

Resolve to pick a solution and partner that:

  • Centralizes all content, going beyond a simple document repository by adding enterprise-class secure document management functionality that seamlessly integrates with your existing core system.
  • Automates all supporting processes and identifies gaps.
  • Consolidates disconnected data, including all related tasks, activities, conversations and other data managed outside of your core systems (e.g., via email inboxes, spreadsheets, manual paper-based databases and legacy applications).

The goal is connected, easily accessible, tracked and secure customer data.

Resolve to embrace digital transformation that improves customer experience – this is a strategic differentiator for insurers. Leveraging innovation to deliver a personalized customer experience gives insurers a competitive edge.

ImageSoft Guides Digital Resolutions

ImageSoft can help you implement your digital resolutions with industry-leading ECM solutions for insurance. Gain automated workflows, improved speed and efficiency, reduced costs and proper compliance. ImageSoft is ready to help your company reap the benefits that an integrated ECM solution can provide.

Look for more information about our solutions for life and property and casualty insurance, plus workers’ comp.

Follow ImageSoft’s Insurance Solutions LinkedIn Showcase page, and receive all the truths you need.

3.6 Million Records Flooded: The Houghton County Courthouse Hurt by Washed-Out Paper Storage Methods

159_houghtoncountyHoughton County, a common summer hiatus for many Michiganders, has suffered a not-so-hot summer.

Just as the county was closing several of its beaches due to high bacteria levels, the Houghton County Courthouse fell victim to a flood that drenched its more than 3.6 million paper documents. The water infiltrated the storage vault in the courthouse’s basement and was absorbed by almost all the county’s circuit, family and probate records. Without these records, the Houghton county residents will be delayed from doing things like changing a name on their driver’s license or even obtaining proof of property deeds.

Livonia’s Document Restoration Services is on the case and working with the Houghton County Courthouse to recover its records. A preliminary estimate gauged the recovery project at $443,714 (yes, you read those six figures correctly!), and includes vacuum freezing the records, water/sewage cleaning and drying the microfilm. From there, a machine will separate any pages that are stuck together.

Preventing Natural Disasters From Becoming PR Disasters

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for natural disasters like flooding to turn into PR disasters for government agencies and counties. By no means is it ever anyone’s fault that a flood, fire, or any destructive force of nature occurs, but organizations should make it an utmost priority to protect the records and sensitive information stored within their care. This is especially true for government agencies like secretary of state offices or county courthouses, which warehouse millions of records for thousands of people.

So, if you were listening to Diana Ross cassette tapes or streaming 21 Pilots while watching filing cabinets rise up in your office space, it might be time to digitize. After all, our music, precious family photos and video, school projects, and so much more are now stored within a cloud. What’s the hurdle to doing the same with sensitive data?

No, there’s not an app for this (yet), but there is a highly configurable solution that’s modernizing counties, government agencies, courts, and many other document-dependent organizations across the nation.

It’s a Repository! It’s a Workflow! It’s Both – It’s An ECM!

ImageSoft has partnered with OnBase® by Hyland to bring nation-wide organizations a 360° view of (and easy access to!) their records, documents, and information. With an enterprise content management system (ECM), also called an enterprise document management system (EDMS), an organization’s records and history are not only protected by digital storage, they also give an efficiency boost to their productivity, significantly reduce (if not eliminate) physical storage costs and space, and ease standard procedures with automation.

Aside from natural disaster protection, social trends are also starting to threaten the progression of many organizations. As identified by a blog from earlier this year, retiring baby boomers are unknowingly taking their organization’s history and ideas with them. The growth of many reputable organizations has long depended on the head knowledge of those who have worked with the organization for decades, but the executives didn’t realize this until those key operators retired and their information source was gone.

With an ECM/EDMS, you never have to fret about retiring valuable knowledge of processes or rules along with a few retiring employees or unfortunate times of higher turnover. With an ECM, every documented procedure, project, note, document, and other critical information is secured and stored just a few clicks away.

Clerks Know Best

Since the expensive flood last month, Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Lorenz told The Daily Mining Gazette that she plans to suggest digitally backing up the county’s records. “To me, that’ll be almost at no cost, so why would we not start going ahead, for the future?” said Lorenz.

As the ones responsible for managing hundreds of thousands of documents and the frontline for communicating with a foot-tapping public, clerks know better than anyone that counties need to move past the paper and dive into digital storage. With tracked progress, point-and-click redactions, full audit trails, multiple-user visibility and access, and electronic notifications (eNotifications), clerks are able to stay on top of timelines and carry their county’s customer service to record heights (pun intended) without needing additional employees or regular over-time hours.

Ready to Rise Above the Paper (literally and figuratively)?

To continuously move your county forward and keep up with the demanding pace of society, you need to be equipped with the tools specifically designed to overcome the hurdles of your era. In the case of counties, government agencies, and many document-dependent organizations, this means saying “G2G*” to paper and “hello!” to the paper powerhouse that is ECM/EDMS. Contact us today to learn more about customizing an implementation plan that caters to your organization’s needs.

With the uncontrollable risks of natural disasters, retiring executives, and revolving staff, what’s holding your county back from moving forward with digital records?

*G2G is the text acronym for got-to-go, or “see you later”

County Clerks and Public Records Requests: A Happier Ever-After

By: Katie Pusz, Copywriter, ImageSoft

Can we all take a moment to celebrate the county clerks who, at this very moment, are working to keep our local governments running? Just a month ago, Winter Haven, FL blocked out an entire week to applaud municipal clerks. From May 6-12, county clerks were showered with gratitude for the value that their work brings to the Winter Haven community every day. And rightfully so!

Like the thread that holds a king-sized quilt together, one of the most important roles of a county clerk is to ensure that elected officials stay in open and clear communication with the public they serve, typically by means of public records request. In this way, clerks serve as the gatekeepers of a county’s checks and balances.

As the efficiency and success of counties hinges on the quality and capacity of its clerks, it is critically important that they stay well-equipped with the most updated tools for processing information requests and maintaining open communication with the public.

To FOIA This, You Need to Forget That!

155_paperworkmountain.jpgTraditionally, a clerk’s office space is shadowed by mountains of paper files and records that they typically sift through for days just to process one records request. Even then, they may have to redact sensitive information, which includes making a copy of the original document, inking out sensitive information, and making another copy to send to the requester. If the documents need to be snail-mailed, that will take even longer to be received and will acquire postage expenses. Not to mention that FOIA requests are bound by time restraints, and clerks need to not only manage and prioritize the timestamps on their requests, but adhere to them.

In a world where information is being requested at record speeds, clerks could never acquire the capacity or space necessary to maintain offices that are both efficient and manually-operated. On the flipside, many counties don’t have the budget to keep hiring more people, buying or renting more space, replenishing paper and ink, or footing more postal fees.

In a nutshell, paper is out. So, what’s moving in?

ECM, You’re Up!

Enterprise content management systems (ECM) are taking counties and clerks by storm, swooping up every document and file and condensing it all into one, comprehensive digital world. Also called electronic document management systems (EDMS), these electronic document and file repositories leverage automation and digital functionality to turnaround FOIA requests and their many other callings in optimal time.

Why are ECMs trending as the preferred tool for managing FOIA requests? We can think of a few reasons:

  • Tracking in No Time: As we previously mentioned, clerks work within several time boundaries on any given day. Able to integrate with electronic workflows, ECM/EDMS will recognize electronic requests, track their progress, and electronically deliver the results.
  • Point-and-Click Redactions: With an ECM like OnBase, redacting sensitive information is as easy as point and click. Best yet, this feature also allows you to create a separate, redacted copy for the recipient while the original copy is maintained on file.
  • Audits, Access, and Answers: Have you and another clerk, official, or staff member ever simultaneously needed the same document? Fighting over paper is not only time consuming, but it diminishes the integrity of the document – it could be on anyone’s desk at any time, and very vulnerable to wandering eyes. With an ECM/EDMS, a file or document can be viewed by multiple parties at the same time. And since you’re accessing documents electronically, you are free to work remotely from anyplace with secure internet access. Complete audits of a document’s history also hold users accountable, so you can see who has viewed or edited a document, how, and when.
  • eNotifications = No worries: Electronic notifications keep clerks on track with looming deadlines and what they should be prioritizing. Especially valuable to time-sensitive FOIA requests, the notifications reduce stress for the clerk by ensuring that everyone has what they need exactly when they need it.

As The Paperless Process People, we’re all about efficiency. If you’re ready to un-shadow your office in time for summer and learn more about the easy adoption of an ECM/EDMS, feel free to ping us.

What part of handling record requests is the most problematic for you? What’s the one thing you with your current document management system could do to help?

 

6 Ways ECM Can Help Government Overcome Challenges – Part 4

By: Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft

150_roundtuit.pngMusic to Everyone’s Ears: Better Serving Constituents and Employees with ECM.

“I just love frustrated phone calls from residents!” said no government official ever.

When you’re serving an entire state, county, or even a city of people who all “want their answers now!”, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. And as if the natural demands and conformity laws of your job don’t stress you enough, the hoops you jump through just to play your part surely will. Why is that? Because paper drives so many of the government’s processes, including the management of records, contracts, cases, photos, and other sensitive information. I light-heartedly refer to any office like this as a “paper prison” – it’s a term of endearment, really.

Moving from desk to desk, and sometimes even to other locations, clerks and staff waste time they typically don’t have just on finding documents for people at the counter who have their own timelines to attend to. And if you’ve already read Part 3 of this blog series, you know this old-school system also doesn’t bode well for transparency, as there is simply no secure way for your public to self-serve their informational needs.

With an enterprise content management system (ECM), also commonly referred to as an electronic document management system (EDMS), you can easily meet all of your constituents’ needs, and not drive your staff crazy while doing so.

Too Much Time on My Hands

A good song by the Stix, but an even better “problem” for you and your constituents to have! With an ECM, not only do you not have to jump from file to file, you don’t have to click from system to system. All of the information your customer is asking for is stored on one, connected platform, and within a few click’s reach. This facilitates much faster responses, such as responding to public housing status updates or making better decisions because you now have all the edits and notes to a plan. So, what would you typically churn out in a few months to a year gets returned to your customer long before they have a chance to call and check the status.

Automatic

A shout-out to the country music fans of government agencies, particularly Miranda Lambert. But, contrary to the song, many processes for constituents can be described as anything but automatic. One of the best features about an ECM is its automation. When a citizen submits an electronic request form, such as a request to address a pothole or a civic complaint, it’s automatically routed to the right person for further development. No more sitting on someone’s desk until they get around to it. ECM also ensures accountability and can notify supervisors when cases are not being handled according to the department’s policies.

Legal documents are even integrated with the court’s CMS, so you don’t have to worry about running over to physically file or find a case. With a click of a button, all necessary documents, discovery materials, and contracts are shared and accessible to the appropriate parties. So you can take your time with the old-school traditions you do like to keep, like cassette tapes and window cranks, while still keeping up with society’s fast-paced demands.


To continue reading more about how an EDMS can help you better serve your constituents, click here!

Born to Run

Maybe you aren’t an actual runner but, like Bruce, you might always been on-the-go. But just because you travel doesn’t mean you have to keep your public waiting. Inspectors can submit work order requests on-the-spot from their laptop. People in public works can pull up plans, manuals and schematics from a layer’s map on their iPad. Invoices can be approved during a break at a conference from a mobile phone.  In the age of the mobile workforce, people expect that you’re not completely disconnected from them just because you’re on the road, off-site, or even on a plane. With an ECM, you can keep up with the mobile workforce. Simply grab your smartphone or tablet, pull up the document you need, and consider it signed, sealed, delivered!

Remember that ECMs with all of this functionality, like OnBase by Hyand, is also making life much easier on constituents. Empowering your employees with the tools they need allows them by to serve constituents faster and easier with mobile-accessible content and overall communication.

What Are You Waiting For?

Because I truly believe there are still Nickelback fans still out there!

But really, when you free your staff from “paper prisons,” you’re also making an investment in the people you serve. Not only will you see a dramatic upswing in productivity, but doing your job in this workflow will be like music to your ears – without upset constituents calling in the middle of your favorite guitar solo.

Look Back to Keep Moving Forward with ECM

If you’re not following our Paperless Process Blog, check out the rest of our blog series “6 Ways ECM Can Help Government Overcome Challenges” – Parts 1, 2 and 3. In Part 1, we discuss the ways a digital workflow adds value to your operations. Part 2 focuses on slaying the paper dragons that want to take over your office. And Part 3 speaks to leveraging ECMs to strengthen transparency.

Coming in Part 5: Complying with Mandates and Regulations

If you adopted an ECM, what kind of benefits would your constituents enjoy?

 

Silver Tsunamis are Coming, and the Times? They’re a Changin’!

By: Katie Pusz, Copywriter, ImageSoft

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Have you heard of the “silver tsunami”?

No, you didn’t miss a weather alert – we’re not talking about a physically destructive storm. But, just as threatening, there is a metaphorical mess that’s brewing across the nation as a flood of state and local government personnel begin to retire. While these natural transitions are inevitable, expected, and even a growth opportunity for those looking to climb their career ladders, they do pose a potentially self-destructive threat to government establishments and, ultimately, the communities they serve: how will decades of organizational knowledge and fluency be preserved?

Brick by Brick

We often look at government leaders and organizations as stable and strong. So, what happens when the same faces that have been leading us through institutional shifts and progress are suddenly celebrating their golden years and not leading organizations?

Losing founding members or significant figures in an organization’s history is like taking structural bricks out of the actual building – everyone feels uneasy and fearful for the stability and maintenance of their organization. Many of these retiring leaders have rooted and nurtured most of the organization’s structural ups and downs for years, even decades. When they leave, they’re not only taking their staplers, but much of the institutional know-how that has upheld so many people and procedures along the way. And when that organization is at a government level and/or responsible for the wellbeing and progression of thousands of people and communities, these entity-shaking effects can be felt throughout cities and states.

But the Times, They’re a Changin’

Remember when you were in elementary school and your teacher whispered something to one student, who whispered it to another, and so on until the whisper reached the last person? And, of course, the last person blurted out something completely different from the teacher’s original message. Similarly, when we’re relying on these word-of-mouth processes and head-stored knowledge that has been whispered down for decades, we’re jeopardizing more than just procedure. The entire organization’s vision, values, and goals are at risk of being watered down, misunderstood, or completely lost.

Unfortunately, much of “what works” for an organization is still operating on this officially-unofficial process. Everyone in the entity knows the procedure, but that secret code is only passed down and sustained through training, verbal instruction, and the occasional, stern reminder from an annoyed co-worker who received a task that is “not their job!”

But changing “the process” isn’t as easy as telling people to work differently. When your tools only allow you to do so much, it’s easy to stay in an archaic tradition of inefficiency. And just as Bob Dylan cassette tapes are to the 60s, file cabinets, paper documents, and floppy disks are to an outdated, early 2000s system that would be too incompetent even for the Bedrock institutions, home of the Flintstones.

Beyond Bedrock: Preservation and Progression

While we’re not impressing the Jetsons just yet, we are getting closer with the dawn of digital government technology. Thanks to contemporary enterprise content management systems (ECMS), paperless processes can be automated throughout an entire organization using the rules that adhere to your required procedures, and simultaneously preserve the foundationally-rooted know-how that your retiring executive is taking with her.

I Can Do What?

As you can see from the tablet, Mac, or cell phone you’re reading this on, technology has marched on in the past five or ten years. With an ECMS like OnBase, sometimes referred to as an electronic document management system (EDMS), you can now do more than the basics of scan, store, and retrieve, which are the primary functions of older systems that we fondly refer to as “legacy archives.”

Electronic workflow solutions are designed with a contemporary business model at the forefront of its mission. Papers become electronic files (eFiles), and they preserve all the institution’s historical knowledge in a back-up system or within a secure, cloud-based system. Why is that so cool? Because in the event of a real tsunami, fire, or vandalism, sensitive documents and audit trails are safe, and you can continue to access and work on them from any computer.

Once you’re set up with an ECMS, documents are automated to be en-route to where they’re supposed to be. This is true for internal emails, document storage and access, and communications with other government agencies, law enforcement, clients, and even the public. This unparalleled transparency with every audience is empowering government entities, courts, insurance companies, and others to do more in less time and, as a result, earn complete trust with their constituents and co-workers.

And with electronically indexed documents and cases, rest assured that every document can be searched for and seen by any and only the people who might need it. That’s right, gone are the days of panicking over a misdirected email containing sensitive information. But if you are curious as to who has opened, viewed, or edited one of your documents, simply pull up the audit trail that tracks where and with whom it’s been.

You’re Invited!

ECMS are point-and-click solutions that have already revolutionized more than 20,000 organizations across the globe. With very minimal training, even the most non-technical people have configured workflows to make their services more efficient and their impact more widespread and purposeful.

So, if your office operates like it’s still the founding year, your co-workers and constituents are frustrated, and your sensitive paperwork is still as vulnerable as actual paper, we invite you to learn more about workflow solutions. You may even want to start by catching up on our six-part blog series discussing how ECM can help the government overcome age-old challenges.

What challenges are you and/or your organization facing as experienced staff retire?

6 Ways ECM Can Help Government Overcome Challenges – Part 3

By: Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft

148_fullinbox

You show up to work, get coffee, open your mail, open your email and check your phone and just like that, you have tens if not hundreds of requests for public records that you need take care of. Even if you can charge for it, the work is tedious, particularly if the records that you’re looking for aren’t where they’re supposed to be, or are covered in cobwebs and dust.

Virtually every government agency is bound by rules of transparency and openness to ensure public accountability. But short of allowing the public to come in and rifle through your files, search your network folders, or setup a new desk in your office, there just isn’t a good way to allow for self-serve access. Things get particularly thorny when you have to redact information or secure certain items from the public because of the sensitivity of the information that you are entrusted to protect. Those requests can take months or years if paper-based.

Public offices have tried to solve this by implementing some kind of image archive where staff can at least access that information faster – if they know what to look for. As an interim step, some offices have provided a kiosk in the lobby for the public to use but this still is not a very convenient solution. At ImageSoft, we hear these stories all the time.

Another challenge to transparency and openness is how to find the information when it has been converted to a digital format. Sometimes, things are not always indexed correctly, so finding the right information can also be an exercise in frustration. And if there is a legal proceeding and you find more stuff after you said that you provided everything, you probably won’t be having a good day.

An enterprise content management system (ECM) like OnBase, or what some call EDMS (electronic document management system) can help with transparency in several ways:

Read more about how ECM can address the challenges of various government offices.

Faster and more complete searches

While any system may have good metadata, a lot of useful information may not be stored as metadata but may be contained in the body of the content. For instance, a sub-contractor on a project may appear in a paragraph but the document may have been indexed using the name of the general contractor. A text search would be the only way to find what you’re looking for.

Easy redaction capability

Some documents should be available to the public but contain sensitive information that needs to be redacted, and at the same time, you need to keep the original. A good ECM solution allows you to create redacted copies for public consumption in the application while retaining the unredacted original securely without having to print, markup and rescan.

Online search access

Allowing the public self-serve access with both metadata and text searches frees up critical office resources. This method is only cost-effective if your ECM vendor offers some form of constituent or external user licensing.

Better tracking system

As we described, the process to track and handle the requests for which the public cannot access a record can be time consuming as well. We will cover more of this in a future blog post but an effective workflow tool that is integrated with your ECM/EDMS can receive requests electronically, track their progress and then electronically deliver results, which greatly reduces the burden on internal staff.

So, whether you store your documents in files and boxes, in network folders, or in an old archive, you can benefit significantly from upgrading to a true enterprise content management system that increases your ability to be transparent and open while reducing your staff’s workload.

If you’re not following our Paperless Process Blog, check out our blog series 6 Ways ECM Can Help Government Overcome Challenges – Part 1 and 2. In Part 1, we discuss the ways a digital workflow adds value to your operations. Part 2 focuses on slaying the paper dragons that want to take over your office.

Coming in Part 4: Meeting Constituent Needs

Justice Summit Reflection: From Case Management to Information Management

Experiencing June’s Justice Summit in Grand Rapids as usual felt like drinking from a fire hose.  Sadly, I have yet to master the trick of sitting in on three sessions at once, so will have to content myself with reviewing the materials and watching the videos of the sessions I missed when they are posted to the conference website.

IMG_1273I chose to follow the Case Management track, which Jim McMillan set up with his keynote on current developments in utilizing the plethora of data flowing from all forms of Electronic Content Management systems to enhance Case Management and Decision Support. From the fire hose I came away with, among other things, the following observation.

The justice system, often led by the courts, is approaching or at a “tipping point” in the management of information.  As I listened to how modern systems incorporate, integrate, and internally leverage the three traditional informational pillars – Case Metadata (Case Tracking Systems), Content (Document and Content Management Systems), and Process (workflow) – I realized that the improvements have gone beyond evolutionary to revolutionary.

Here’s what I mean.

The original electronic Case Management Systems (CMS) automated the systems previously kept in large files or books, typically called The Register of Actions, The Judgment Docket, and The Court Docket, or some similar terms.  Thus the DNA, or “lizard brain” of even the most sophisticated of early CMS were electronic “direct descendants” of the old, physical record. As such, they are of course “case-based”.

Likewise, Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) automated what had previously been physical case files. Again, they were direct descendants. So, for example, the electronic documents “of course” had “page numbers”, for instance.  And perhaps “Title Pages”. And, also of course, they tend to be very “document” and “file based”.

Workflow systems were a little different.  While their antecedent was written or institutional process information, generally they came into being either with or following implementation of EDMS and began with “smart” routing of documents through the process cycle. As such, they really were not different just in form (electronic versus paper based), but also in function, from their great, great grandparent, the Routing Slip. From the start they were able to take advantage of the electronic information contained in or accompanying the very documents they were tasked to route.

As time has gone by, Electronic Case Management, Electronic Content Management, and Electronic Workflow have become more tightly integrated and cross-leveraged. This trend has led to much of the almost incredible new capabilities of modern systems to impact

What I began to notice, from Jim’s Keynote through the various sessions on Case Management, is that the newest systems are starting to leave some of the old DNA behind. Instead, they start from ground zero and are designed to capture, store, utilize, disseminate, exchange, secure, manipulate, manage, and control information electronically from end to end, without resort to “lizard brain” limitations imposed by the physical limitations of previous ages. Concepts such as “case”, “file”, “person”, and so forth can be dynamically formed and utilized as needed, without imposing design or performance trade-offs necessary in bygone days. Furthermore, they are not so much “integrated” as they are reformed into a new, more complete, flexible, and robust whole.

What is emerging is a new type of system that is designed, from the ground up, to holistically handle all types of information – meta data, content, institutional knowledge and rules, security – without regard for system boundaries imposed by either information type or historical format limitations.

For those aficionados of Arthur C. Clark, what I think we are seeing is a Childhood’s End moment. The first wave of automated systems got us to where we are today. Now courts and the wider justice system are poised to move to a new level of Information Management, the successor to Case Management.