Records management equals time management
A big solution with a small beginning
Some of the biggest Laserfiche solutions start out rather small. Municipal governments can be slow to change and adopt powerful records management technology, even when it is already available to them. Donna Lent, Chief Deputy Town Clerk of Brookhaven, New York helped her community expand its use of Laserfiche and gain the benefits of the software’s full potential.
"I began working for the Town Clerk’s office with a new administration in January 2010. At that time, Laserfiche was being used in Town Clerk’s Department only, and was simply used to help organize board meeting minutes. After I sat in on a presentation from General Code, our VAR (Value Added Reseller), it became clear to me that we were not using the software to its fullest potential," Lent explains.
Brookhaven needed a solution that would provide easy access to town records and also help fulfill New York State’s record management requirements. Lent was assigned by the Brookhaven Town Clerk to serve as project manager for a scanning initiative that had been discussed for the prior two years. Shortly after this appointment, an RFP was awarded for a multi-million dollar scanning initiative for the town’s archived records—headed by the Town Clerk’s office. Brookhaven’s search committee selected a vendor to scan town documents and chose Laserfiche as their electronic content management solution.
Building records management capability throughout the community
Donna Lent describes the progressive nature of Brookhaven’s use of Laserfiche: "Originally, we purchased 11 licenses. However, there are more than 30 departments within our town, which covers 326 square miles, and serves nearly 500,000 residents. A number of our departments are housed in different locations throughout the town. So, in July, 2010 we decided to purchase an upgrade to Laserfiche Rio and purchased a total of 200 licenses. We have installed Laserfiche in the Building Department, our most active department, and we have nearly completed the scanning of their records. I know the i mplementation of Laserfiche in our building department is a success because the employees, many of whom were so skeptical, love using it. It makes their job easier and they are able to maneuver through the software with ease."
To give an idea of the time and effort saved, Lent illustrates the cumbersome nature of the town’s previous process: "Our Building Department would request between 200-500 files per week. The written requests would go to our Records Center Managers to enter and then the documents would have to be pulled from storage cartons. Then the records would have been driven to town hall. With Laserfiche, employees don’t have to handle the paperwork for each record and our staff is not pulling records off the shelves and then driving eight miles to deliver them to the building department. Our staff can quickly pull up the necessary record in Laserfiche. Finally, our residents no longer have to wait a week and then make another trip to Town Hall to obtain copies of their records. It is an incredible relief to everyone concerned."
Upgrading to Laserfiche Client 8.2 and RIO allows Brookhaven to manage their documents and retention requirements easily. It has also greatly reduced the time that the town’s records management staff spends traveling between their building and Town Hall to deliver documents.
"I received the best news since the start of this project late one afternoon. The building department notified me that they were able to serve 122 residents in one day without requesting one file from the records center! That translates into lower costs, less demand on the staff, and happier residents as well," Lent exclaims.
Lent sums up the net results of expanded Laserfiche implementation: "Research time has been cut drastically. As a result we are able to serve the public faster, resulting in greater numbers of residents served, shorter wait times and less stress on our employees. At the end of the day, revenue has increased as well as the confidence of our taxpayers."
Building community-wide best practices in records management
Brookhaven’s $6.7 million capital project in records management allows the town to continue to scan important records and will eventually provide Laserfiche to each department.
"Laserfiche is loaded with functions that we are using on a day to day basis," Lent says. "The custom stamps function enables us to delete the tedious process of ‘hand-stamping’ all town board resolutions. Sticky notes allow staff members to leave comments without altering the integrity of the document. Moving forward, we plan to use the linking function more so everyone can look at the same document instead of storing several different versions of that document, and eating up space on our server."
Lent has this advice for other municipalities seeking to maximize their investment in Laserfiche: "Attend as many presentations, workshops, and training sessions as possible. You will find something new and useful each time. At last year’s Laserfiche Institute Conference, our IT staff attended workshops that taught them how to develop workflows and implement best practices. Don’t be afraid of the program. Playing with it will help you become more proficient in using Laserfiche to its fullest potential. Give a lot thought to your folder structure and how you access documents in their paper form. That will help you to design a document template that works best to suit your specific in your own environment."
Finally she adds: "Develop a good relationship with your VAR. General Code has been a great partner in this project."