The National Association for Court Management’s (NACM) annual conference is one of the most-anticipated events each year for the justice community…and this year, we have an all-star team on stage discussing court technology! Listen in on this lively conversation between Brad Smith, ImageSoft’s senior justice consultant; Ben Martin of Mentis Technology Solutions; and Dan Willis, Trial Court Administrator for McHenry County in Illinois, as they debate how to best integrate technology in the court system.
For years, ImageSoft has been delivering on the promises of the Component Model even before it was written. Listen to Therese Murphy, from Yakima County District Court, discuss how they implemented eFiling and while keeping their case management system and how the integrated workflow dramatically improved their court processes.Continue reading “Episode 003: How Yakima County Benefits from eFiling and a (Nearly) 100% Paperless Court”
A district court administrator, business systems analyst, and information systems director from three different courts across the country agree to be panelists on an eFiling webinar.
It sounds like the beginning of a good intention gone wrong, but it was actually an extremely informative hour learning about the benefits of eFiling for Superior Courts from three critical court perspectives. Unique to these courts is their eFiling solution, TrueFiling, which combines an eFiling portal with a highly configurable DMS, complete with an electronic workflow, that allows them to achieve an end-to-end paperless court.
As with all ImageSoft webinars, we sent a copy of the recording to everyone who registered so, in the event you couldn’t make it, you can still tune in at a more convenient time. For those who didn’t register and don’t have a copy of the recording, and for those who did register but, let’s be real, you’re just not going to listen, we’ve transcribed the webinar’s key moments below.
Meet the Panelists
While eFiling alone doesn’t yet subscribe you to the standard of “paperless,” it is a big first step. With cascading effects that impact all your court’s personnel, attorneys, pro se filers, and the superior courts, the decision to offer (or mandate, as many courts have done) electronic filing understandably raises many questions and concerns from every corner of the court.
Many thanks go out to our fun and informative panelists below, who all come from standard court settings, have “been there, done that” with eFiling and lived to share their experiences with us.
Therese Murphy, District Court Administrator, Yakima County District Court
Christina Dietrich, Business Systems Analyst, Arlington County Circuit Court
Anthony June, Information Systems Director, Macomb County Circuit Court
In Their Own Words
Q: What has been your experience with electronic filing?
Christina: Just a myriad of benefits! Arlington County Circuit Court has seen a more than 20 percent increase in case load and has been able to comfortably manage it without an increase in staff. We’re offering better service to our constituents and attorneys who, with 24×7 access to filing, can file and manage cases when it’s convenient for them. It saves them incredible time not having to drive and pay to park just to file. Prior to adopting TrueFiling, one clerk tracked the time she spent looking for missing case files and logged 14 hours in an average work week.
Therese: Adoption is easily in the 90 percent range! Filers would much rather eFile than drop papers off to the court.
Anthony: We’ve been eFiling for about eight years, and it’s been a driving force in opening access to the court. We took feedback from attorneys in terms of how they like to prepare and submit documents and what they liked and didn’t like about eFiling, provided that feedback to ImageSoft, and they built that feedback back into their product. It’s important to keep in mind that not every filer has same technical skillset. We have actually built out a technical division of the Macomb County Court so self-represented litigants can receive technical assistance with completing and filing their electronic documents. I caution anyone who thinks clerk staff can manage supporting attorneys and pro se filers with technical needs – we provide technical resources who can take the time to ensure filers have what they need. This way, the clerks’ day and document processing aren’t affected, and filers appreciate the extra support.
Q: Tell us about how eFiling has impacted your court’s workflow?
Christina: The transmission of documents and information follows a much more defined path. Our clerks no longer have to ask, “where does this go from here?” This more-established process has also instilled a greater sense of confidence in our constituents, who trust that they will receive their files as soon as the judge signs it. This faith in the system has also translated with the higher courts. When ascending a case to the Court of Appeals, we now have a very low rejection rate because what used to be a very tedious, manual process is now mostly automated.
Anthony: A value that many people don’t think about is this new-found ability to measure how many documents are coming through the door, and building metrics regarding staff management and how efficiently they’re able to process certain amounts of documents. This is extremely valuable in managing staff resources!
Q: Has CMS-integration made a difference in your electronic filing experience?
Anthony: It’s rare that you will find a full-source provider for everything so, nowadays, you need to integrate. Integration considerations are very important when choosing your eFiling vendor. Something you can do in advance of your eFiling project is to reach out to vendors and find out what they offer, what they can and can’t integrate, and if they have worked with other vendors.
At some point, you’re going to expose your staff to a new system, and you want efficiency to go along with it.
Christina: CMS integration has allowed us to keep the information in our records management system consistent with the information in our CMS. ImageSoft helped us build a custom way for us to record information in CMS and pull it in real-time so we don’t have to wait for a daily feed.
Q: After making the decision to pursue electronic filing, how was your change management? What strategies worked in corralling support for your decision?
Therese: I involved those least accepting of change so they, in turn, would share their experience in a positive way with the rest of staff who, after hearing their testimony, would be all on board. I involved these subject-matter experts in any changes to existing processes, and even created a lab where staff could test and be trained on the solution in real-life work stations. Giving power to the employees and involving them in the process was the best decision I ever made when it came to deploying a successful project because I needed their support.
For external users, we hosted a series of meetings and several training sessions to expose them to the concept and get filers comfortable with eFiling.
My biggest take-way is that you need to put thought into this. Think about your staff, partners, and users, and the best way to get them all on board. If you don’t, you’re going to have some real challenges down the road.
Christina: We got all our users comfortable with using system by running through all the test scenarios. We crossed things off the list while still preparing for the solution to to be at their desk everyday and, by the time the first day rolled around, it was muscle memory.
Communication was critically important! We named it “Project Paperless,” made t-shirts, had cakes, and posted signs in our office so filers would ask us and be prepared. All in all, it took about four months for everyone to be rolling smoothly. Funny store: about 8 months in, our system was actually out for a short while and everyone panicked. We said, “just proceed like you did before eFiling” and everyone’s response was “what do you mean ‘like before eFiling?’”
Q: How was working with Judges through this paperless transition?
Therese: The judge can put an end to this quickly, so it’s crucial that we had a judge on our team while developing the solution. In this kind of project, we tend to think about admins, so don’t underestimate the judge’s role. OnBase for judges is an amazing tool! They actually hate when paper files come to their benches now. Being able to create e-forms, play with tabs, and get their job done more efficient – judges are a big fan!
Anthony: Courts around the country have not anticipated so much technology in courtroom. In our courtrooms, we work with judges to come up with a solution to fit their needs. You’re not going to have a one-monitor-fits-all solution – each judge is going to need the technology formatted to fit his or her needs. At the end of the day, the judge is going to need to access a digital case file as conveniently as traditional paper, and I suggest you get started sooner rather than later.
Have Qs of Your Own?
We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Between technology infrastructure, corralling stakeholder support and training staff, there’s a lot to consider when pursuing paperless processes. What’s your court’s biggest hurdle?
Answer in the comments section below or on social media. We promise to read and respond!
The cold temperatures have arrived and they’ve brought the stress of the holiday season with them. Sounds like a good time to hop a plane to sunny and simple Las Vegas, right? We think so too, which is why we do so every other year for the bi-annual eCourts Conference.
2018 eCourts Conference
Presented by the National Center for State Courts, the eCourts Conference is the jackpot for innovation-driven courts across the nation. The two-day summit immerses CIOs, judges, court managers, clerks, justice administrators and all eager-to-learn court personnel in the latest trends driving court technology. Not only will these sessions keep your thumb on the pulse of courtroom IT know-how, but it’s the perfect place to network, share and hear other’s experiences, and finally address the pressing issues that have been holding your court’s efficiency in contempt for far too long.
The Gift That Keeps Giving
While you’re trying to forget all the holiday hustle your family keeps texting you about, stroll over to booth #312 and meet some of the personality behind your favorite paperless process people! In addition to product experts, several members of our leadership team will also be hanging out in between note taking at their favorite sessions.
Things to talk to us about:
- eBench Platforms
- The Component Model
- Seamless CMS Integration
- ImageSoft’s Court Solutions Showcase Page
Can’t Wait to Warm Up?
Weather-wise, we can’t do much. After all, we are headquartered in southeast Michigan – the state that’s literally shaped like a piece of winter apparel.
But we can give you a pre-eCourts warm up on some of this year’s hot-button issues. Grab some hot chocolate and head over to: www.imagesoftinc.com/ecourts2018. After that…
We Want to Hear from You! Before eCourts.
If you haven’t already heard, we like to talk. But we’re also great listeners and we want to hear what you have to say.
In your opinion, what’s the best court solution to date? Will you be talking about it at eCourts this year?
Join our other, industry-specific conversations by following the LinkedIn page below that best fits your industry’s needs:
As colder weather and feel-good movies draw us home, it’s easy to look around and reflect on “the why” of who we are and what we do – making memories with loved ones, embracing the stillness of nature, and finding ways to contribute to and be a part of both.
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, almost everyone is making a conscious effort to unplug from technology, forget about work, and be present in these moments. But, at the risk of sounding millennial, many of us wouldn’t be where we are without the rapidly-advancing technology supporting our daily lives. In more ways than one, it’s a component of who we are, what we do, and how far we’re able to go, and we would all be amiss to not show thanks.
A Case for the Courts
We know – you would expect software developers to draw such conclusions, but hear us out. 2018 has been the year of a system that, through the orchestration of loosely-coupled, modular applications, has digitally transformed courts across the nation to be more accessible, transparent, efficient, and empowered court computing environments to identify gaps in their technology infrastructure, zero in on opportunities for growth and be more strategic with their investments.
What does this mean? That justice is more accessible to everyone. That court managers, CIOs, judicial officers, and many other busy court personnel are getting more done in less time, and are able to recycle these saved resources into addressing triple-bottom-line issues. And that, with snap-on, integrative components now available, we can start having real conversations about long-term court visions and the technology needed to support it.
All of this, thanks to The Component Model.
Functionality Not Far-Fetched
As any court personnel can tell you, the idea of various parts working together to bring versatile functionality to a court’s case management system (CMS) is not original. In fact, many legacy systems are supported by functional components. The issue lies within the limits of those components. You see, the traditional monolithic structure is very tightly wound, and all the components, though serving a niche purpose, depend on one another. So if a court manager decides to alter, add to or take away one component, changes to the model’s code will have to be made, Vendors may not want to pursue new coding if it won’t be beneficial to their customers in other jurisdictions, will be too costly or other roadmap priorities are taking precedent. Not to mention that the court faces the headache of replacing or changing the entire system.
Fast-forward to loosely-fixed, NextGen application components, and enjoy defined interfaces that make it easy to snap-on and snap-off parts as you see fit. This type of flexibility allows each court system to decide on and invest in the specific functionality that best serves their needs. Despite these boundaries, however, the components use open data standards and can still communicate with one another to maintain seamless automation and workflow.
Because, just like maintaining peace with your relatives at Thanksgiving dinner, communication is key.
The Component Shop
Whether adding new functionality or enhancing existing operations, these highly-configurable (not custom, AKA vendor-coded), scalable application components work together to support the court’s business goals, technology platform, data management and reduce currently-unnecessary application complexity. Below are just a few of the many in-demand functionalities that you can mix-and-match for a best-in-class court solution:
- Online Dispute Resolution
- Litigant Portal
- Evidence management
- Electronic payment processing
- Compliance monitoring
Now, We Want to Hear From You!
As much as we like to talk, we’re also great listeners. And that’s something to be thankful for!
What does your ideal component model look like? Which functionality would you choose to work with your CMS?
Join our industry-specific conversations by following the LinkedIn page below that best fits your industry’s needs:
By: Katie Pusz, Copywriter, ImageSoft
Unless you’re a part of the super cool, niche group of people that doesn’t talk much but, when you do, it’s about software, you probably don’t get too pumped up about the word “integration.” We, on the other hand, could talk about the transformative effects of powerfully integrative software until our smartwatches tell us to go home. Even then, we would stay late to show you a fun demo, but most people will have left by then anyways.
So when real-world examples of preventable integration fails have life-changing impacts on innocent people, we get all riled up.
What to Say When You’re Being Arrested for a Dismissed Case?
Not me. Well, that’s what one of the nation’s biggest names in software development is trying to say after its court case management system was the reason for dozens of defendants in a very populous county being wrongly accused, arrested, jailed, and even registered as sex offenders.
Worse yet, these incidents are not isolated. Distressed by the same errors, numerous courts across the nation are responding to the county’s claims with “us too!”
How Could This Happen?
We thought you’d never ask! Let us explain. Again.
Integration is key when trying to successfully leverage any software. This is especially crucial in court cases where real-time information about prisoners and warrants needs to flow statewide among prisons, officers, courts, and more.
In situations like the above, failure to integrate with a court’s case management system means mistakes. Big ones. A lot of them. This is because the same case information lives in multiple systems across the criminal justice system, but updating that information at the sheriff’s office doesn’t update it for the court. And vice versa.
Simply put, the case management systems among the courts, prisons, police departments, etc., can’t talk to one another if they’re not integrated. When this happens, the status quo of a case isn’t clarified across the board and people act based only on the information they have. Cue wrongful arrests.
So Integration is Just a Group Chat?
Not quite. By integrating case management systems, the efficiency of your processes and the integrity of your data are both strengthened. Not only is data safely stored and accessible by all authorized parties, you never have to re-key information into multiple systems. Once the data is in, it’s everywhere it needs to be and always up-to-date.
When you’re processing nearly 1,000 cases per week (as most counties do), the time and money saved by having an integrated software is kind of a big deal.
Ready for Integration That’s On Point?
We’ve helped hundreds of criminal justice systems throughout the country stay in immediate and constant communication by exchanging data and documents among law enforcement, prosecutors, courts and more with just the click of a button.
How so? Through our eFiling technology for civil courts, our LEAP portal for criminal filings, and with a little help from our friend OnBase by Hyland. OnBase has standard APIs that allow for the secure exchange of data and documents with virtually any system.
But more important than the technology, we’re a company that loves to do integrations – it’s in our DNA, and we can’t help but to take the lead on working with your technology vendors to get you where you need to be.
And if you ever want to stick around for that fun demo, we know a few people who would be happy to show you!
After hearing what has happened to innocent people in several courts across the country, do you feel your court is vulnerable to the same miscommunication? How could the components of your case management system be more in sync?
By: Katie Pusz, Copywriter, ImageSoft
When you decide to roll out state-wide eFiling, you’ll start hearing a lot of E-words. “EFSP,” “EFM” and pretty much e-everything. Eeek, we know! Confusing as all the acronyms and terminology can be, being versed in this knowledge will be the difference between optimizing the most of your digital toolbox or keeping your state’s filers e-ternally confused.
Spending a few minutes on this short crash course will set you on the path to understanding what’s available for optimizing state-wide efficiency.
Despite being thrown off by the acronym, your eFilers know EFSPs all too well. E-Filing service providers are the user interfaces that attorneys, pro se litigants, prosecutor’s offices and all other eFilers use to submit filings and new case requests to the court. EFSPs act as an “online clerk” augmenting and mimicking the filing process at the counter, with the added flexibility of anytime, anywhere filing. The EFSP also provides up-to-the-minute status updates on filings and keeps transaction history at a filer’s fingertips.
Once filed with an EFSP, the data is sent to the appropriate eFiling Manager. Also known as the clerk’s FilingReview interface, EFMs act as traffic managers for incoming filings from one or more EFSPs exposing and enforcing the court requirements for the data and documents. The EFM also manages the roles and security rights of court personnel managing the filings. If integrated, the EFM can also exchange this data with the case and document management systems of the respective courts.
EFSP and EFM: Working Together
Now that you understand the function of each, let’s watch them work together.
ESFPs are your filers first point of contact. From there, ESFPs transmit information to EFMs, or clerks, who will sort the eFiled data and move it along. If, for example, a jurisdiction was using different CMS/DMS for different court types, EFSPs could feed the multiple EFMs to get the job done.
The collaboration of EFSPs and EFMs is also very fruitful. First and foremost, it empowers filers with flexibility and options in terms of where and when they want to file, which translates into five-star customer service. In terms of cost savings, travel between the courts is eliminated, and so are the expenses of postage, paper, and ink. Truly the gift that keeps on giving, optimal customer service and multi-faceted cost savings is shared by all filers and the courts.
One great example of the collaborative power between EFSPs and EFMs is TrueFiling. A web-based portal for electronic filing, TrueFiling’s primary components are the EFSP and EFM, and the payment processor. It’s also ECM-conformant to support standard integrations, and powerful enough to serve and support highly-configurable and multi-jurisdictional needs.
Together with OnBase, TrueFiling is the preferred eFiling solution for courts, attorneys, and pro se litigants across the nation. The standard for enterprise content management (ECM), OnBase is a secure storehouse and workflow hub for all your data storage and communication needs.
The ImageSoft Way
Don’t sweat it if your court is already working with existing EFSPs or EFMs (or both!). Our innovative approach to implementation accounts for that and can integrate existing EFSPs to TrueFiling’s EFM, or vica versa, with an ECF-conformant link.
As a matter of fact, TrueFiling and OnBase solutions were designed specifically to accommodate several types of eFiling court configurations:
TrueFiling Hosted Courts: For courts new to eFiling, ImageSoft’s hosted TrueFiling and OnBase solutions will be used for filing and managing electronic documents.
Local On-Premise Courts: For courts that have already invested in an EDMS, ImageSoft provides the option to use either a hosted or local filing review while archiving and storing all eFiled documents in OnBase.
Third-Party Hosted Courts: Courts currently using an EFM from a different vendor will receive ImageSoft support for its third-party EFMs and EFSPs while eFiled documents are archived and stored in either OnBase or the court’s existing repository.
Choosing TrueFiling also means added value with the electronic commerce module, which allows filers access to court-approved electronic case files. With the electronic commerce module, courts can give filers the option of viewing and/or purchasing the entire list of filings associated with a case.
Tell Me More About TrueFiling!
Whether you feel that TrueFiling is definitely right for you, or you just want to learn more about all things “e,” send us a message. Our product experts and representatives love to chat about e-everything.
If you’re already using eFiling, how could you take efficiency to the next step? If you’re not, what’s holding you back?
By: Katie Pusz, Copywriter, ImageSoft
There’s always one.
After a scammer was able to hack an attorney’s eFiling account and take off with $130,000, Florida Courts E-Filing Authority was understandably shaken. Realizing such a vulnerability in its midst, the board quickly removed all non-lawyer eFiling accounts, which included the right-hand people of many lawyers – office managers.
Office managers typically rely on the eFiling portals to assist their law firms with managing cases, tracking files and payments, and more. Rather than creating their own account, many attorneys rely on their office managers’ accounts to perform their eFilings.
While there are still secure systems in place for pro se litigants and other non-lawyers to eFile, Florida lawyers will now have to submit their electronic files through an account attached to their bar number. If an attorney wishes to create any additional accounts, they will need to undergo a more extensive inspection by portal operators.
Speaking of Security…
Prior to eFiling, paper files were literally tossed a clerk’s desk where they sat until they were processed. Anyone could have picked up the file and stolen a client’s identity or other sensitive information. Developed to be more efficient and protective than paper-reliant processes, eFiling added an extra layer of armor to the security of every file. In such a technologically advanced era, eFiling must continuously evolve to strengthen its cybersecurity tactics.
A prime example of this is TrueFiling by ImageSoft, which just released its 3.0 version. With a continued focus on scam-proofed security measures, TrueFiling’s format is now similar to that of LinkedIn: Filers can send connection requests to other clients, attorneys, office managers, and more, and an accepted request will exist as consent between the two or more users. This step ensures that users cannot slyly add another contact as a service recipient. Filers must first be connected with one another as to acknowledge them as a party on a specific case.
Another TrueFiling security measure is the use of an administrative account for a law firm. Any person who registers to eFile as a representative of a law firm must be approved by an eFiling administrator of the law firm. This extra step enables the support staff to continue doing their job under their own, approved accounts, which actually strengthens security since attorneys aren’t sharing their passwords and account information with anyone. And with TrueFiling’s full audit trail, you can track and hold accountable those who were working on a file. If an entire office’s support staff is sharing and working under one attorney’s account, all that’s known is that “someone” was working on the file. With TrueFiling, there is no gray area – only full transparency.
Stepping toward upped security, TrueFiling also requires every filer be a registered user with an e-mail address. Sure, scammers could try to fake an email address to look like an attorney, but eFiling would then take some extra steps. By integrating TrueFiling’s software with that state’s Bar, the user’s bar number would have to be validated before he or she is deemed a registered user. You could further enhance the system’s functionality to only allow one bar number per user, which would be more than sufficient since support staff would maintain their own accounts.
Avoiding Future Flubs Everywhere
The connection-request process or law firm administrative oversight demands approval and accountability through each step of the eFiling process. This empowers attorneys to better protect their clients by harnessing complete control over who is accessing their cases and files. By applying this checks-and-balances type system, every eFiling application can avoid a scammer slithering into their case in the first place. And allow assistants to file on behalf of an attorney.
What security checkpoints does your court’s, office’s, or law firm’s eFiling system use?
By: Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft
A day in the life of prosecuting attorneys is defined by the materials in their case files (often stored in banker’s boxes)…evidence, testimony and research. The piles of paperwork grow exponentially, with police reports, photos, victim and witness statements, discovery and investigation reports, and so on. Moving from arraignment, bail hearings, and motion hearings to trials – each step multiplies the size of the file. As prosecutors research precedent and review statutes, and coordinate with other attorneys, the court, police and other professionals – the pile grows.
No wonder some prosecuting attorneys arrive at the courthouse with banker’s boxes filled with paper.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Technology is simplifying the way prosecuting attorneys deal with case files, by automating them and including functions to scan and store all types of documents, photos and video and audio files.
Prosecutors looking for ways to eliminate paper files should look for best-in-class solutions with these features.
Comprehensive electronic case file and workflow solution
Any solution designed for prosecuting attorneys should aid communication, manage discovery and related materials and be accessible via any smart device. The best solutions mirror how stakeholders interact with paper files by automating tasks such as searching cases by metadata, color-coding case files, and creating reporting dashboards that provide transparency and easy access. Such solutions should simplify the predictable, repeated steps following routing rules and process steps.
Above all else, they must integrate with any good functioning case management system already in place.
Web-based eFiling for law enforcement reduces paper handling and travel time to locate and obtain documents. These functions should integrate with the prosecutor’s case management and enterprise content management systems to create a paperless process.
Communication/integration with law enforcement
Prosecutors need a solution that manages the communication and interaction between law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office. Importantly, it should incorporate an electronic warrant request submission process. It should include such features as automated evidence submittal and subpoena management. To be fully functional, it should be integrated with law enforcement’s own records management system and include:
- Automated workflow to efficiently review and screen prosecution requests.
- Electronic discovery and digital management of all discovery materials.
- Easy and intuitive document capture features, including electronic document management, filing, and scanning.
- Automatic indexing of court notices, dispositions, electronic citations and any other documents from law enforcement to the electronic case file with no need for manual intervention.
- Electronic subpoena management
- Docket management so electronic case files are synced with the court docket.
A fully integrated and automatic discovery solution is necessary. It should streamline the receipt of initiating attorney appearance documents. A best-practices solution then would select discoverable documents, including photos, and audio and video files, and send them to the attorney of record with an automated discovery email function.
An electronic subpoena process should begin once a court notice has been received. As witnesses are selected, it should automatically generate personal subpoenas and send them to law enforcement. It then should automatically create a subpoena status report to track the service of subpoenas that attorneys can check while in court. As law enforcement enters the serve status in the system, the solution should update the electronic case file.
Prosecuting attorneys need an automated docket management process to assign and manage cases according to the court’s docket calendar. Rather than having to pull physical case files, prosecutors should be able to access the court’s dockets and electronically sync their case files via a simple key sequence. Whether automatically assigned based on pre-configured rules or manually assigned, court events should be managed by prosecutors using a docket management queue. The solution should include the routing of case files in real time from the courtroom to support staff at the end of a hearing.
Electronic signature tools
Electronic signature tools speed up justice, using tablets to sign complaints or petitions, rather than paper documents. They are a must-have on the list of potential solution features.
Time-sensitive activities require staff accountability; built-in alerts and notifications streamline processes and help staff meet deadlines.
Electronically controlling confidential information and redacting sensitive information serve to protect victims. Make sure the cause of victim’s rights and redaction process are fully integrated into the workflow.
How to Retire the Banker’s Boxes
Prosecutors can and should shed the burden of banker’s boxes filled with paper by selecting a technology solution the incorporates an electronic casefile and workflow solution.
Need more information about solutions for prosecutors? Contact ImageSoft today.
By Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft
As a Star Trek fan, I grew up watching the original series and one of my favorite episodes was one where a transporter accidentally launched Captain Kirk into a parallel universe. It intrigued me that two separate universes had the same people, the same spaceship, but very different cultures (and moustaches).
At a recent Hyland Partner conference in Cleveland, I couldn’t help but notice how developments in the enterprise content management (ECM) industry parallel what’s happening in the justice industry. In the justice space, the big news in terms of the future of technology is the Application Component Model, as championed by the National Center for State Courts and drafted by the Joint Technology Council.
The Component Model was drafted to address the slow pace of innovation with courts. It’s not that innovative technology is not available, it’s that courts purchase monolithic applications that have broad (but sometimes uselessly shallow) functionality that locks them into a particular vendor. This means that if you don’t like how your case management system handles document generation (or maybe not at all), you believe you have no recourse. Manual Word templates it is. The current state of affairs is that the majority of technology vendors have little to no interest to integrate with other applications, particularly in areas that compete with their own products.
Instead, the Component Model proposes that applications should be developed in smaller, detachable chunks that are designed to naturally integrate with other applications. For example, if a court only needs one key area of functionality, e.g. document generation, it can add that component without having to replace the entire case management system. Both the case management system and the document generation micro application can easily exchange the data that makes it possible for almost “snap-in” integration. This allows a court to implement best-of-breed solutions that provide a high degree of functionality, with minimal impact to operations, at a much faster pace.
The industry trend within ECM is following the same path. Historically, to access the advanced features of an ECM solution it required that you actually be logged into the client application which sometimes can be a clumsy transition. Today with OnBase, we can make small bits of ECM functionality available within a core application without having to load the entire ECM client. For instance, while in a case management solution, a function key could be used to generate an order even though the case management system does not possess that functionality natively. To the user, new functionality was added to their familiar interface. For the court, they just saved hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) in replacing a still working and supported case management system. That’s just one example of the many ways that a court can leverage small functional blocks within core applications and gain a faster path to a digital transformation.
ImageSoft has always pursued this kind of model as technology allowed. All of our solutions, whether it’s eFiling, workflow and ECM or eBench, are all designed to be integrated with existing case management systems. When you design your software that way, you have to design it to be able to exchange data in many different ways and include tools that can get around intransigent vendors that aren’t interested in connecting with other solutions. It will likely take years for the rest of the industry to catch up where a philosophy of openness and data exchange permeates the development and design of court applications. You can’t just beam into a parallel universe.
Thankfully, we are already there. Every one of our court projects involves integrating with an existing case management system or core application. And, we are working on the next generation of rich, consumable components that addresses the various gaps that courts have to achieve for an efficient, paperless case flow.
What do you think of this approach?