Jamestown, NY — April 2012 — When it comes to spending on information technology, let everyone else calculate return on investment or point to budget line items. New York’s Jamestown City School District will keep on counting the “wows” from its employees.
Sure, it’s not a traditional measuring stick. No, you wouldn’t feature it in a grant proposal. Yes, the idea probably irritates accountants. But good luck finding a budget line item that better shows why Jamestown has fallen in love with its Laserfiche® digital record storage software system by General Code.
“We measure the success of Laserfiche by the number of times we hear ‘Wow’ when we go on-site to do training,” said Jamestown Human Resources Director, Karen Briner Peterson. “Lately, we’ve been doing a lot of training and hearing a lot of wows.”
The district went with General Code and Laserfiche in 2004 largely for the software’s ease of use and the installer’s regional reputation for making the transition to digital documents as painless as possible. For Peterson, employee response is an important gauge for pursuing IT initiatives—the people using the technology and their enthusiasm for doing so matter as much as the bottom line. Fast forward a couple years, and Jamestown is seeking a grant to partner with three other school districts on expanding the system into what it hopes will become a regional enterprise content management system shared by 17 districts. The prospect of training a lot of new users is bringing the importance of employee enthusiasm—wows included—into new perspective as Jamestown attempts this expansion.
“A lot of employees are less than thrilled to try something new, and even less excited to give up their file cabinets of paper, “Peterson said. “Yet, we now have many employees who could not imagine getting up from their desk to access records.”
Employee exclamations over Laserfiche don’t stop on training day. In one new partner school district, for instance, moving nine cubic feet of inactive student records onto Laserfiche means the Superintendent’s secretary no longer climbs a ladder to access student files at the other end of the building. It’s the type of workplace improvement – hard to quantify, but easy to feel – that’s being reported throughout the districts already partnering with Jamestown. Complying with Freedom of Information requests often involved pulling, printing and shipping boxes of paper. Now the documents are downloaded onto a CD and mailed out. The ability of Jamestown’s Pupil Personnel Services Department to access a student’s file electronically while on the phone with a parent, government agency, or attorney is also cause for exclaim. One partner district started scanning school board meeting minutes into the new system. That eliminates the need to index those minutes because Laserfiche’s OCR function and Quickfields software allow full-text searching and automatic indexing. Dual back-up systems that General Code installed at two separate server sites mean the databases are disaster-proofed. Most important for Jamestown’s plans, the Laserfiche RIO system it recently purchased permits the addition of more servers over time allowing other school districts to come on board with very little added expense.
“The perks that come with these new Rio licenses are something that we as a district will roll out to our school district partners over the next few years, as they become seasoned users of this Laserfiche system,” Peterson said. “Ultimately at the end of the day, I can go out and sell the concept of a shared services ECM system to other school districts because of the ease of deployment. This is a system that is easy to use and easy to understand.”