Located in Kennewick, Washington, the Kennewick School District is one of the thought leaders in the education industry. KSD’s commitment to providing innovative educational programs for students in preschool through 12th grade that prepare them for bright futures.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Holly Veach, Business Office Manager, as well as Dave Croney, Business Systems Analyst. Both have been working with the Kennewick School District’s Laserfiche solution for several years.
On setting up and implementing Laserfiche with MCCi. “We had a tremendous amount of paper that flowed between different buildings and departments, but no way of tracking it,” said Dave Croney. “So, by setting up our first electronic form, we were able to cut down the time that it took to complete the form with all the approvers that need to be involved. It could take up to two weeks; now, it’s done in less than a day.” “To add to that,” Holly Veach jumped in, “after the form is through its process, as a government entity, the disposition process of keeping and safely storing that document is important as well.”
“I think the first step is to find a department that has issues that you can definitely help out with using the Laserfiche tools and start there. Start with one department. I wouldn’t choose teachers or parents first,” added Croney. “It’s just too big of a group, and it’s too diverse. Some of our first groups were cooks and bus drivers. They’re a great group to target first. After all, well, their expectations of us are pretty low because they’ve been using these paper systems for a long time!”
On beginning the digital transformation process. “Little by little, as we rolled over forms from paper to digital, people became more comfortable with it,” Veach shared. “People saw how the benefits and time savings made a huge difference. For instance, our expense reimbursement forms no longer take as long, nor sit on desks. Staff were no longer waiting for their approvers to sign off on a paper form. They’re seeing real-time advantages of getting money in their bank accounts faster; these are real-life experiences that enable them to see the benefits of having this electronic process.”
On adapting to Laserfiche. “Laserfiche is so easy to learn the system and adjust to it. It’s effortless to go in, very user friendly, and it’s an excellent system for someone without a technical background,” said Veach.
“Yes, the level of complexity that we’ve gone to from our first form is just phenomenal. That comes from the ease of use within the system, the training that we’re able to get online, as well as at Empower, and the teamwork that we have,” Croney added.
On increasing productivity and efficiency. “Over the last few years since we’ve had Laserfiche, we’ve added schools, we’ve had teachers and parents increase exponentially, maybe 500 additional employees,” Veach said. “But during that time, our payroll and HR teams maintained the same level of employees, and we’ve been able to do that through electronic forms processes. We’re able to process more employees and maintain that level of employee retention and turnover.”
“I spent a lot of time working with our Accounts Payable Department, and one of the things we implemented was an electronic form for expense reimbursement. Before this, we required that everyone fill out the form, enter all their information, enter the information about what they’re pulling off of their receipts, what they wanted to get back, and then it would be sent to the building secretary. Then from there, it would come downtown to Accounts Payable,” Croney added.
“Employees had to tape their receipts onto an 8-1/2 X 11 piece of paper, not because they’re going to do anything with it, but because that was our requirements for our accounts payable team, because they were going to scan it in. It would get to Accounts Payable and then they would redo all the calculations,” Croney emphasized. “By implementing this, just the expense reimbursement alone, we’ve gone from four accounts payable clerks down to three. We didn’t fire anybody. It was just attrition. It works out pretty well because when you implement something like this it takes away repetitive work that has the potential to introduce a lot of errors, plus you free up that person to do something more interesting. They’re a lot more productive.”
On overcoming challenges. “My first project was to work with transportation and develop an electric form for our bus trip requests. Everyone that went on a field trip would need to fill out all these different forms. I took the paper form, met with the Transportation Department and they were very adamant that it had to mirror that form exactly,” said Croney. “As you work with them and identify the accomplishments, and let them sign off on the products and make sure that every step of the way you’re doing what they want, they turn into converts quickly, and suddenly they become your champions.”
“I just started with a paper form, and I was trying to eliminate the physical traveling of this piece of paper. Then, when I sat down with my boss and the superintendent and showed them this form, the superintendent says, ’Well, Dave, that’s nice, but why don’t you start with the travel request form because all the information for this bus trip comes from that form.’ Suddenly, that moment made our superintendent our champion. From that point forward, he was presenting his vision of being able to use these products to streamline our operations, and now you got the backing from the top guy!”
On seeing a return on their investment. “With the employee cost savings for our HR payroll, I’d say we save about $200,000 a year as we’re not adding additional payroll and HR employees to accommodate for the hiring process in payroll processing,” shared Croney.
On working with MCCi. “I spend a lot of time troubleshooting if there’s an issue, I get to contact MCCi support. They’re awesome. Every time you contact them, you don’t have to go through tier one support, and then elevate it to tier two. The person you get on the phone can answer your questions and resolve the issue for you right there. I don’t know what kind of tools they’ve got available to them, but I know that they’ve got some great knowledge bases they access. Your first call, you got a solution,” said Croney.
Their next big project? Database Integrations and Workflow. “We want more integration with our other systems, such as the student information system, the HR system, and the payroll system. We have a lot of information about our employees that we don’t need them to enter again. But there’s so much data out there,” Croney lamented. “Laserfiche is a great tool for us to be able to pull it all together from these various systems and get some good data out of it. We really hate the idea of having them to enter information that we already have about them. That was something that used to be in all of our forms. You’d have to fill out your name, your address, the school you’re at, and the mail stop when we’ve already got that down. We have a solid value for our team to make sure that we’re providing something to the customer that’s going to use the least amount of time and effort.”
“How it works is, we’ll just have them enter in a couple of pieces of their information; usually their employee ID, last four digits of their Social Security number, and then as soon as they enter that, it will do a lookup to fill in all the information needed, depending on the form,” Veach emphasized. “Then, the last part of their social will disappear for security reasons. At that point, they’re all set. It’s nice. They enter in a little bit of information, and the form will auto-fill whatever we need it to.”
“We also have the ability within our HR system to use this data to help the flow of the approval process,” Croney added. “We know who their supervisor is. We know the buildings that it needs to go. We see if they’ve got a second job and where that needs to go for approval. It’s using the data to be able to pre-populate their information, along with where we’re using it to decide where it needs to go next in the workflow.”