The Florida Board of Professional Engineers (FBPE) was established under Chapter 471, Florida Statutes and is responsible for reviewing applications, administering examinations, licensing qualified applicants, and regulating the practice of engineering throughout the state. One of their primary functions is to process applications and maintain licensing records for approximately 38,000 engineers, a number that consistently changes with each exam cycle.
“Since FBPE is required to maintain licensure records for all Florida licensees, we need a program that is accurate and reliable,” states Zana Raybon, FBPE Executive Director. “Laserfiche does just that, and provides the type of document management system necessary for FBPE to comply with public records requests and licensure verifications.”
The licensing process is a very time consuming, paper-intensive, multi-step process, one that can take several months from beginning to end. At any given time staff members are processing 15-20 different application types, which flow through an approval process requiring review by several different staff members. During deadline periods, FBPE receives upwards of 250 applications resulting in over 2,000 sheets of paper daily.
Before implementing Laserfiche, applications were received and input into the licensing system by hand through reception, placed in folders along with other relevant paperwork, then distributed around the office, first to finance, then profiling, next to the assigned analyst working the file, then to the Executive Director and finally to the Board for final review and approval. This method proved to be very laborious and increased the risk of documents being misplaced. In addition, obtaining the exact approval status of an application would sometimes require going person to person.
Today, the applications are entered into the LicenseEase system for assignment of an application number, then they are scanned into Laserfiche where Workflow electronically routes the documents to the various departments and analysts for review and approval. “Implementation of Laserfiche and Workflow has been the first and largest step towards being a completely paperless organization,” states Katherine Anderson, Scanning Technician.
By using Laserfiche to automate and centralize records, FBPE saved countless hours and eliminated the potential for lost data.
Since Workflow tracks documents, staff members are able to locate any document at a moment’s notice, providing a high level of customer service and more efficient response time to the applicant or licensee making a status request.
The Board meets six times a year and is comprised of 11 board members and one board counsel. A portion of these meetings is dedicated to application review. Since FBPE is located in Tallahassee, all hardcopy applications and their associated documentation would have to be packaged and transported to the meetings. Each board member could manually review as many as 200 application files in one review session.
Using Laserfiche Web Access and iPads, the board members can access documents remotely and securely for review of all completed applications. Not only can the review be conducted during the meeting itself but the files can also be provided to the Board in batches as they are compiled prior to the meeting, eliminating the arduous task of reviewing so many in one sitting.
FBPE is also using Laserfiche as their archival system. To date, they have been able to scan in all licensure and legal files previously kept in off-site and in-house storage. Having all of these files stored in Laserfiche has provided employees the ability to easily and quickly retrieve information needed for licensure verifications, legal cases, public records requests, and answering applicant questions.
While the process of scanning these records into Laserfiche would normally be a simple task, it would still require an individual to look up the file, open it, and scan the additional documents into the file. When this process has to be repeated thousands of times it becomes a very tedious and monotonous task.
By utilizing the Quick Fields feature within Laserfiche, a batch processing tool, the system pulls data from the document’s contents to determine where it needs to be filed and then automatically files it in the corresponding engineer file. Through the use of Quick Fields, FBPE instantly saved several weeks of time archiving these documents. “Quick Fields has completed it all for us! We are now preparing to use Quick Fields at the first step in the Workflow process when applications are scanned into Laserfiche,” says Anderson.
Going forward, FBPE plans to automate several other processes in their Accounting and Legal Department with the use of Workflow. They are also configuring Laserfiche Forms for members to submit their applications online and plan to use Quick Fields in conjunction with Workflow to kick start automation of the application process.