“We wanted to ensure we weren’t moving to the new platform and continuing to scan and store documents without any true automation and benefit to the city.”
The City of Coppell, Texas, has historically used Laserfiche for file sharing and document storage, but as a document management system, the city’s use of the software was far from perfect. Data was managed manually and often lacked the proper naming, electronic metadata and storage conventions necessary to organize and locate documents. Data silos existed in many of city’s departments, and data was integrated across multiple sources, containers and security domains.
When prompted about upgrading to Laserfiche Rio, members of the city’s information systems department started thinking about how the city could utilize Laserfiche as a true enterprise content solution platform instead of simply a document management system.
“MCCi contacted us and told us the upgrade was available, and we said, before we start down this path, let’s talk about what we really need, what our wants are and what we want this application to actually do for us,” said Albert Gauthier, chief information officer for the City of Coppell. “We wanted to ensure we weren’t moving to the new platform and continuing to scan and store documents without any true automation and benefit to the city.”
To do this, the city decided to rebuild their Laserfiche instance from the ground up and slowly migrate departments over. This way, they could be sure they were putting protocols in place that would eliminate the city’s previous problems with document storage. Laserfiche Forms would serve as the user interface, passing data to the Laserfiche workflow engine and giving the city opportunities to integrate with other applications when necessary. The focus was putting together a taxonomy that would serve as the foundation for whatever departments and processes needed to be handled. Things that were considered were designing and consolidating metadata, developing role-based security, integrating applications for data consistency as much as possible and setting policies to govern data management, retention and security.
“We looked at how each process could be implemented and how it would work from an organizational standpoint, not just departmental, to ensure we didn’t silo our data or processes,” said Gauthier. “We wanted to build workflows that traversed multiple departments; we didn’t want each department to figure out their own solution to the same problem.”
One of the city’s goals was to not only exploit Laserfiche as a platform, but also find opportunities to replace legacy solutions with Laserfiche. By approaching each process with explicit Laserfiche use in mind before exploring additional software purchases, Gauthier says the city is consistently discovering opportunities to use Laserfiche Forms and Workflow to build solutions rather than buying them. Reducing the number of additional software applications saves the city money, but also assures that city employees have fewer applications to learn, which saves time and effort and reduces opportunities for user error.
“The Laserfiche Forms user interface is user-friendly, making it easy for employees to learn,” said Gauthier.
These streamlined operations will ultimately help the city’s employees provide better services to citizens. One streamlined process Gauthier singles out is the city’s annual driver’s license checks for employees who are required to have clean driving records. Laserfiche Forms is now used to initiate the process and single out employees who require the background check to be performed. A human resources employee selects departments or individual lists of employees and Forms submits the list to Workflow, where a PERL script formats the data prior to automatic FTP to the Texas DMV. The FTP site is monitored so that any new data or returns are downloaded and processed by the workflow, notifying the appropriate manager in the instance of a driving violation.
Before the city implemented the new process, a driver’s license check would take a single employee weeks to collect data and process inputs to complete the check. Now Gauthier estimates the process takes no more than 15 minutes. In this instance, the city is using Laserfiche as a middleware between their ERP system and the Texas DPS system.
Another area in which the city has integrated multiple applications and processes is with their HR onboarding process. The city uses Neogov for the hiring process, and once the recruiting process is complete, a data file is available from Neogov. This data can then start the process of requesting the employee setup by creating the active directory account, integrating with their S2 facilities control system for allowing building access and setting up them up in their ERP system.
Though Gauthier would not consider the transition to enterprise content management system complete, the city has gone from many manual user-directed processes to automated system-driven processes, which allows city employees to perform their job duties more efficiently and takes the guesswork out of using the Laserfiche application. Future projects include automation of the warrants process with multiple jurisdictions in their region, finishing their rollout of the HR Onboarding process and rolling out public forms to citizens for specific services.
“Some of our goals to streamline everything have been extremely successful, some are still a work in progress,” said Gauthier. “We are continually exploring and developing new opportunities to use Laserfiche in our environment. This process is not a destination, it’s a journey.”