Case Studies

Case Studies

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Town of Brookhaven


A Big Solution With a Small Beginning

eimaging_stack_papersSome 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 implementation 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.” The Laserfiche solution really is serving the entire County.”

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 of 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 needs in your own environment.”

Finally she adds: “Develop a good relationship with your VAR. General Code has been a great partner in this project.”

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Eaton County


The Challenge

eaton_county_ITEaton County, Michigan has 25 different operating departments that are mostly geographically dispersed in different County facilities. The process of routing paper documents and records as part of the Accounts Payable process has, for many years, involved the physical movement of files by personnel walking or driving to and from different locations to pass documents for approvals. This process was time consuming and costly.

The County has been a very successful Laserfiche Document Management user for almost 20 years. In 2009, County CIO Dr. Robert Sobie authorized a test of an earlier version of Laserfiche’s workflow module for streamlining the Accounts Payable process. But, further use of workflow was postponed until the product matured in ways to add greater flexibility.

In 2012, in the midst of an overall downsizing of County personnel, the County IT Department decided to re-examine the idea of using Laserfiche workflow to maintain—and even improve—business processes. The County Controller’s Offi ce always operated with small numbers of employees. During the downsizing, the elimination of even a single position would have created a significant impact on the Office’s ability to operate effectively. The potential benefits of time and cost savings were apparent. In May 2012, he decided to re-launch Laserfiche workflow within version 8.3.

Project Objectives

Dr. Sobie set out with modest objectives for the AP workflow implementation, including:
• Put the entire IT department through workflow training.
• Map and incrementally adopt the Accounts Payable process.
• Minimize costs by doing most of the work with inside staff, avoiding the cost of the reseller’s team building and implementing workload.
• Limit the resource drain on the inside IT staff working on this project.

The Results

By the end of August 2012, three months after the project began, nearly two dozen departments were up and running on the AP workflow process and the IT team had all remaining departments engaged by the end of 2012.

The system is eliminating nearly 100% of the foot traffic and vehicle trips related to routing the documents and gaining approvals across the County. Previously, one vehicle had to travel 45 miles round trip at least twice per week to a large satellite office of the County Sheriff. This no longer occurs. Also, lost documents and time spent backtracking to look for files and documents have been virtually eliminated.

The time for workflow design and development, as well as implementation and training of users, was primarily done by the IT Department’s Administrative Assistant Ashley Bancroft. She has been with the IT Department for nearly three years, has no formal technology training, but is what Dr. Sobie terms an idea scout. “We had expected her to evolve into a technical support role over time when we hired her a little less than three years ago. With this project she latched onto the Laserfiche workflow designer and has been the primary driver in moving this project to where it is today, just four months after the software upgrade was installed.” Dr. Sobie added that, “This is a complex workflow with so many departments and variations in the way different items are reviewed and approved depending on the departments. We just expected this to take a lot longer than it has.” Dr. Sobie notes that the entire IT staff went through the workflow training and has provided support through the process but Bancroft’s initiative allowed the rest of the staff to remain focused on other important projects.

Unexpected Benefits

Dr. Sobie describes this new process as “transformational” because of how it has changed a county-wide business process to be more efficient and effective. “Transformational” also describes how the County’s IT Department views other business processes operating in the County. Today,
many other processes are viewed through a “workflow lens,” allowing new ideas to be suggested about how the processes could work. To Dr. Sobie, this is particularly important because, as he notes, “We were generally perceived as a computer infrastructure and services department. This is not uncommon and is certainly part of the role that IT must play in the County. Implementation of Laserfiche Workflow changed the relationship between users and the IT Department by engaging IT as business process engineers or consultants. We have departments now asking us when paper-based processes in their areas can be automated using the Laserfiche software and we are assessing several intradepartmental processes for automation that can now begin sooner.”

In terms of the success of the rollout, Dr. Sobie highlights three key elements to their success:

  1. Laserfiche’s product (specifically the workflow designer tools) are easy to use, intuitive to learn and fun to work with. “They’ve done a tremendous job moving the product forward.”
  2. General Code’s training and knowledge of the product was extremely helpful. “We went through three days of well orchestrated training for me and my team. When needed, General Code has provided supplemental support and design services throughout the project.”
  3. An internal Laserfiche workflow designer. “We had a new person in Ashley who really took ownership of this project and the work she has done to build workflow, train, and support the users. Ashley has shown tremendous initiative as well as patience while analyzing current processes and offering ideas to streamline and automate them using the Laserfiche tools.”

Going Forward

The incorporation of Business Process Automation using Laserfiche is very consistent with the County’s Strategic IT Plan. Key objectives of the plan for the next several years are to implement new processes to create greater efficiency, lower costs and improve productivity. Evaluation of current business structures and potential redesign and re-organization of those structures are a big part of the plan and workflow implementation is a key innovation that will allow Eaton County to reach those productivity objectives.

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Franklin County


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Overview

Ed Yonker joined the Franklin County IT Department in 2004, after spending many years in the banking industry. “Government is a different world,” he explains. “Because of its size and structure—there are eight employees in the IT Department, compared with 925 employees county-wide—it’s a lot harder to implement new technology and get everyone on the same page.”

With approximately 150,000 residents, Franklin County’s mission is to enrich social, economic and environmental vitality by delivering services that are responsive to the health, safety and general welfare needs of its residents. The county government comprises 52 different departments, including the Commissioners’ Office, Human Resources, Human Services and Risk Management, to name just a few.

Yonker notes that these departments “operate like 52 separate businesses under the same umbrella.” In this kind of environment, it’s especially important to establish enterprise-wide IT standards to promote consistency and cross departmental collaboration, Yonker says. In addition, standardization decreases support and maintenance costs. However, it’s often difficult to find technology that’s agile enough to meet the needs of many different departments and flexible enough to adapt quickly and cost-effectively to changing conditions.

“It’s hard to convince all the different departments that they can use the same system,” says Yonker. “Because of that, we didn’t start out thinking Laserfiche was going to be enterprise technology. But after the enterprise content management seed was planted in one department, suddenly all our departments wanted to know more.”

The Beginning

Franklin County first purchased Laserfiche back in 2001, after a new panel of Commissioners was elected. “We had some younger Commissioners come in, and they were more familiar with technology and the benefits it could have for Franklin County than previous Commissioners had been,” explains Jean Byers, Deputy Chief Clerk in the Commissioners’ Office. “They did a year of research into solutions that would grant them easy access to the documents they needed.

In the end, they selected Laserfiche for its instant search capabilities, as well as the fact that we could install it directly on the computers already in use.” She continues, “We immediately realized tremendous benefits from Laserfiche. Documents that used to take days to find became available with the click of a button. It used to take hours to find specific text within meeting minutes that were hundreds of pages long, but with Laserfiche it only takes seconds.”

The new technology also made it easy to share documents with colleagues, and due to a similar look and feel as Windows, Laserfiche quickly became popular with both management and staff. Over time, the Commissioners’ Office expanded its use of Laserfiche. When yet another new Board of Commissioners was elected three years ago, they went wireless and purchased laptops so they could review meeting agendas electronically during their Board meetings. They also use Laserfiche to manage office mail, County contracts, bids and personnel files. According to Byers, “Nobody takes paper into the Commissioners meetings anymore.”

The Evolution of an Enterprise Standard

As Laserfiche took root in the Commissioners’ Office, other departments began to take notice. With their focus on compliance and prudent financial management, both the Fiscal Office and the Controller’s Office deployed Laserfiche in 2004. “Laserfiche is great for accounts payable (A/P) functions and auditing,” says Yonker. “For A/P, instant document retrieval speeds and simplifies the review and approval of invoices. And with electronically stored documents, employees can quickly and easily pull the files needed to satisfy an auditor’s request, with no need to spend hours digging through file cabinets. That’s a pretty impressive efficiency boost right there.”

Yonker notes that rolling Laserfiche out to additional departments was an easier sell than other system expansions because there was buy-in from the top right from the start. “Whenever County purchases exceed a certain amount, they need to be approved by the Commissioners,” he explains. “Because the Commissioners were already very familiar with the value of using Laserfiche, they never hesitated to give the go-ahead when other departments wanted to get on board.” The next departments to raise their hands and ask for Laserfiche were the Human Services and Human Resources Departments. Both departments implemented the software in 2006.

Human Services

In Franklin County, Human Services is comprised of 18 different offices and agencies, many of which use Laserfiche to manage case files. Effective case management, of course, is essential for providing high-quality services to qualified individuals at an affordable cost.

Electronic case management using Laserfiche enables the smooth delivery of services such as psychiatric assistance, medical care and food assistance, among others, by granting case workers instant access to client fi les, along with the ability to upload their own notes into the system.

The offices and agencies that fall under the Human Services umbrella include:
• Aging Agency
• Children & Adolescent Service System Program
• Children & Youth Services
• Community Services
• Developmental Disabilities/Early Intervention Programs
• Domestic Relations Section
• Drug & Alcohol Program
• Falling Spring Nursing & Rehab Center
• Franklin County Transportation
• Mental Health, Mental Retardation & Early Intervention Administration
• Grants Management Department
• Information and Referral – Community Services
• Juvenile Probation Department
• Mental Health Program
• Parent Power Newsletters
• Penn State Cooperative Extension Office – Franklin County
• Public Defenders Office
• Veterans Affairs Office

According to Claire Hornberger, administrator for the Mental Health, Mental Retardation & Early Intervention Administration (MHMR), disaster recovery has been a driving force behind her department’s adoption of Laserfiche. MHMR has 80 employees who provide services to 1,400 individuals across the County. Client charts typically contain an intake assessment, school records, hospital records, treatment records and notes from meetings with social workers.

Hornberger notes that the files can be up to 5-6 inches thick. At first, the department was scanning closed case files into Laserfiche with an eye to decreasing the space needed for document storage. When MHMR was forced to evacuate the office for three false fire alarms one day in early 2010, staff realized that in the case of an emergency, it would be more beneficial to have active files available in an electronic format than case files that were long closed.

From that day on, the department stopped back scanning and started moving its active files into the system to make them available in the event of a fire or other disaster. Hornberger notes that Laserfiche allows her department to organize its digital charts in the same manner its paper charts were organized, so it hasn’t been complicated or cumbersome for staff to learn to use the electronic system. Scanning, however, has been a bit of a challenge. Because MHMR has so much paper, it’s had to hire temps to do the scanning, which has made the process slower than the department would like. Once the records are in Laserfiche, though, Hornberger appreciates that it’s a secure and user friendly system for her staff.

Human Resources

Human Resources John Aguirre has been the director of HR at Franklin County for the last 13 years. He notes that his department has nine employees who are charged with:
• Establishing, administering and effectively communicating sound policies, rules and practices that treat employees with dignity and equality while maintaining compliance with employment and labor laws, County policies and labor agreements.
• Providing the ever-changing needed services to the citizens and employees of Franklin County in order to secure, maintain and develop employment with the County government.
• Administering payroll and the County benefits program. “We became interested in Laserfiche because we saw that it could us move into the 21st Century,” says Aguirre. “The direction of the nation was to go paperless—even the military was doing it! We didn’t want to get left behind.”

Before deciding to invest in Laserfiche, the HR Department had actually been considering moving to microfilm to cut down on the space needed for document storage. Even such photographic film, however, would require storage space, along with expensive machines to read it. “We ultimately decided that digital records would be easier to deal with,” explains Aguirre, “and we knew that a number of other departments were already having success with Laserfiche.”

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Jamestown School District


Jamestown Case StudyArea schools share the cost and gain superior records management and business process automation. Over the past several years, New York State has focused on Record Managers sharing services in an effort to decrease operating costs and thus reduce the amount of tax dollars needed by individual school districts throughout the state. One of these programs is the Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF) which focuses on shared services grants. Jamestown School District’s Director, Karen Briner-Peterson, describes how Jamestown’s Laserfiche system helps neighboring communities save money through shared document management resources: “These grants will be awarded to school districts and municipalities who can prove their commitment to long-term records management solutions between two or more entities.”

The Jamestown Public School District is developing partnerships with a growing number of school districts in its area (including the Fredonia CSD, Southwestern CSD, and Panama CSD) to allow them access to Jamestown’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. Several school districts in the greater Jamestown area have begun to share business officials and other human resources personnel in order to reduce costs. Briner-Peterson adds, “At Jamestown, we will work with the school districts that share personnel, as it will allow those officials to work at one school site and still be able to access the records of the other school districts’ that they work for. There are currently 17 school districts in our county and over the next fi ve years, we want to provide the remaining 13 school districts that don’t currently use our ECM system with the opportunity to access it at very little cost to them.”

Laserfiche Delivers Advanced Document Management along with a Disaster Recovery Plan

Located on the southern shores of Chautauqua Lake, Jamestown, NY, is the largest city in picturesque Chautauqua County. The Jamestown Public Schools serve approximately 5,000 students from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade at six neighborhood elementary schools, three middle schools and one comprehensive high school.

In 2004, the district received funding from the NYS LGRMIF to hire a records management expert to examine the feasibility of implementing document management in the HR department. By 2005, a selection committee of the district’s HR director, IS director and records management coordinator were interviewing document management vendors. “Although another vendor’s ‘unlimited user licenses’ offer was attractive from a fiscal standpoint, our selection committee was concerned that if the product wasn’t user-friendly, unlimited licenses would not make the HR staff, or any other department’s employees, more willing to use it,” says Briner-Peterson. “After a lot of research, we decided Laserfiche would best suit our needs.”

Once Laserfiche was installed, staff began with a pilot project to scan all personnel files into the system, with plans to eventually expand the project to other administrative areas and school buildings as resources and time allowed. The need for multiple file cabinets was immediately eliminated: staff designed their file structure to include five sub-folders (personnel, payroll, training, insurance and medical), set up so they could place security tags on confidential files. “Because all this information is confidential, we had to restrict access to everyone except the District Superintendent and two of our assistant superintendents,” Briner-Peterson says. And just as important is the peace of mind that Briner-Peterson and her staff enjoy knowing Jamestown’s records are finally safe, whatever may happen. “9/11 and Hurricane Katrina just proved the need to be able to continue running a business or government office immediately after a crisis,” she says. “Our largest concern was that we had no disaster plan in place. If water pipes broke or a fire started, we had no ability to recreate documents that could not be easily replaced.” All of the district’s documents are retrievable through Laserfiche WebLink so that, in case of disaster, district maintenance employees, administrators and local emergency personnel can immediately access information. In fact, Briner-Peterson is so confident in Laserfiche that she’s begun moving original hardcopy personnel files offsite to the district’s new records storage facility. “Laserfiche is the foundation of our district disaster recovery plan,” she says. “Combined with our HR and payroll software, Laserfiche hasn’t just saved us time and money, but has also enabled us to be up and running at an offsite location within a matter of hours after a disaster.”

Unexpected Benefits

While the district initially planned only a small pilot project to scan personnel files, staff soon found new and unexpected benefits from their Laserfiche system. “Our reseller General Code provided us with a modular, scalable system we could build on as time and resources allowed,” says Briner-Peterson. “In our estimation, the most unexpected benefit of Laserfiche is that we’ve been able to use it for reasons that our selection committee could never have envisioned.”

  • Managing the maintenance department’s documents. Formerly disorganized architectural drawings, schematics and operations manuals are organized chronologically by school, so they’re easily accessible to maintenance employees, administrators and first responders in the case of a disaster.
  • Creating paperless Board of Education meetings. Meeting packets could end up being several hundred pages long. Now, staff use Laserfiche Plus to create CDs of documents for each board member. Not only is less paper wasted, confidential information is more secure.
  • Simplifying the legal process. The district’s HR director uses Laserfiche to easily store, present and disseminate information during legal proceedings. Documents are easily searchable, and are presented to opposing counsel on CD.
  • Tracking provision history during collective bargaining. All collective bargaining agreements between the district and its seven unions are stored in Laserfiche. When a provision is questioned, applicable contract provisions are easily located in minutes, instead of hours.
  • Handling FOIA requests. Instead of redacting paper documents by copying a document, blacking out information and recopying the document so redacted information can’t be seen, staff simply redact the document in Laserfiche. Using the whiteout redaction tool means that readers don’t see how many words or letters were removed.
  • Searching multiple documents. Instead of manually searching 580 personnel files for requests to transfer, a simple search for the word “transfer” pulled up a list of teachers willing to transfer—in less than ten minutes.
  • Accessing permanent student record cards and transcripts. Once permanent student record cards and transcripts are transferred to the District’s Records Center, they are scanned into Laserfiche. The information is burned to CDs and sent to the High School’s Guidance Department, as they receive the majority of these records requests.

“Our confidence in Laserfiche enables us to reach out to other district departments—so we continue to find new and innovative ways to use it,” says Briner-Peterson.

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Oneida County Board of Elections


Board of Election Commissioners Go Digital to Protect Petition Integrity

Oneida County, NY Board of Elections Case Study

The Oneida County Board of Elections (BOE) oversees elections in 45 villages and towns and two cities with a total of 13 districts plus 23 county districts to oversee. The front counter becomes a busy place during the run up to election season, as designating petitions flow in as a cascade of messy paper forms that may be battered from traveling porch-to-porch on multiple clipboards over a series of days.

Traditionally, post-submission processing within a BOE necessitated the movement of petitions from physical location to physical location as each process step advanced through the New York State compliance review. Even at the best-run BOE, there was always the possibility that pages could go astray or shuffle from one petition to another or that a petition could disappear under a pile of folders for a day or two, resulting in out-of-compliance processing.

Electronic Management of Petition Documents Comes of Age

That’s no longer the case at the Oneida County BOE. When a petition is submitted, it is logged, scanned and vaulted in the BOE safe in a process that can take five minutes or less. In the event of a challenge, the BOE can retrieve the paper original for the court’s review with complete confidence in its integrity, as it has been maintained “as-submitted” under lock and key.

Once the petition has been scanned, the digital images route through an electronic processing workflow that supports bipartisan review. Many mandatory steps are even automated; for example, the system will automatically generate letters with relevant information, such as election race, designated candidate and contact person filled in. The system assures that today’s submissions are acted upon today, and that certifications and non-compliance notifications are posted on time. This makes for a smooth-running operation in which it’s virtually impossible to mislay a petition, because a few mouse clicks are all it takes to deliver it to a staffer’s PC browser window.

An “Ah-hah” Moment and an Opportunity Not To Be Missed

The genesis of the Oneida BOE’s solution begins with Anne Hartman, Director of Central Services for the County. Anne’s department is responsible for Mail Room, Print Shop and Information Technology services, which includes department-specific software programming. This means she’s familiar with how all of the County’s various departments operate.

In 2014, the County District Attorney saw a General Code demonstration of a case files management solution based on Laserfiche software. He pulled Anne in for a consultation that eventually resulted in a new implementation. Meanwhile, a metaphorical light bulb went on in her head based on what she learned during the consideration and deployment process.

What came to mind was how the features and benefits of the Laserfiche system could apply to the BOE. “First off,” she recalled, “the system could store document images in a Department-of-Defense-certified secure format. I knew how essential it is to the Board’s mission that a petition to run for office remain free of tampering.” Her idea was to handle the original document once – from counter to scanning to lock-up – and enable the BOE to work on unalterable images of the petitions for the actually processing.

Laserfiche was a natural fit to enable this strategy. Its document management capability provided a ready way to index, store and archive TIFF images of the petition pages. Its retrieval capability meant that a given petition could quickly be searched and served back to an employee’s desktop. And Laserfiche’s workflow capability enables efficient processing and use of automation where appropriate. The routing rules built into the system can even assure bipartisan review (with an audit trail), which is at the heart of maintaining a transparent election process.

Building on Bipartisan Security

Co-commissioners Rose Grimaldi (Republican) and Russell Steward (Democrat) were in the second year of their 2013/2014 terms when they learned of the Laserfiche opportunity. “When we sat down with Anne Hartman and General Code and talked about what the system could do for our office, we were agreeable to trying it,” said Grimaldi. “Our shared goal as Co-Commissioners was to preserve the integrity of the election process.”

The extremely short chain of custody from submission to scanning to storage offered an ideal solution. “Having petitions scanned in and immediately locked up in filing cabinets in the Election Management System (EMS) room accomplished what we wanted,” Grimaldi pointed out. She added, “There are two locks on the door. The Republican Commissioner holds one key, while the Democratic Commissioner holds the other. No one can get into that room without both Commissioners being present.”

Reducing Stress and Enhancing Service

The Commissioners also appreciated the operational benefits that come with electronic document management. “Once the staff was trained and the process was up and running it seemed to work well,” said Grimaldi. “The system has allowed our office to manage the petition process much better and it helped alleviate the stress that quick turnarounds and deadlines put on the employees.” As an example of this, Grimaldi pointed out, “The system facilitates the creation of a letter to the candidate notifying them that their petitions have been filed and advising them of what other documents need to be filed with our office.” Employees can accomplish their tasks with less keyboard entry and less opportunity for clerical error.

Grimaldi said, “2015 is a big year for the Oneida County Board of Elections and we are looking forward to working with General Code to tweak and utilize the system to the best of our ability to ensure the integrity of the election process in Oneida County.”

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Oneida County


Oneida County DA’s Office Pioneers Paperlessoneida_seal

When Oneida County was founded in 1798, it was on the frontier of a new nation. Now, Oneida County is once again pioneering into new territory as its District Attorney’s Office is the first in New York State to go paperless. Oneida County approved a capital project to install a Laserfiche Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. Once implemented, users in the District Attorney’s Office and County Clerk’s Office will be able to scan paper records into PDF format, store and share those records electronically and be able to conduct digital searches to identify and retrieve the specific records required to satisfy business needs.

Once the system is fully operational, the County’s 22 Assistant District Attorney’s will no longer need to lug boxes of documents to court. Using an iPad, they will be able to access any documents that are needed. Case information from law enforcement agencies will also be submitted electronically through electronic forms. With incoming case information in electronic form from the start, the need to scan documents will be eliminated. And cases will be assigned to attorneys faster, a process which will occur through a workflow.

Web Portal for eDiscovery

With eDiscovery, the ADA’s will tag documents that need to be shared with the defense attorneys. When ADA’s are ready to provide the defense attorneys with the discovery documents, they will trigger a workflow in Laserfiche that will gather all the tagged documents and place them in a folder for access by the defense. The defense will receive an email letting them know that their discovery is available. They will log into a password protected Web Portal to access a folder with their specific discovery documents. This saves the administration of the District Attorney’s office from having to copy and deliver the discovery to the defense attorneys. This will also give the District Attorney’s office verification that the discovery has been received and accessed by the defense.

This Laserfiche system is integrated with the DA’s case management system so that Laserfiche records can be accessed from their PCMS case management system from NYPTI. Laserfiche Rio was selected because it combines comprehensive ECM functionality with business process management, security and the auditing tools necessary to serve as the foundation of a solid ECM infrastructure. Laserfiche Rio offers central control over standards, security and auditing. It also provides individual departments with the flexibility needed to customize filing structures and workflows.

General Code of Rochester, NY, an authorized reseller of Laserfiche, assisted in establishing the framework for the ECM infrastructure for a contract cost of $142,100. The County Legislature with the commitment of the County Executive and Department Managers provided for the implementation of Laserfiche through a Capital Project. This includes 50 licenses, modules for records management, training for the District Attorney’s and IT staff, development of Workflows for automation of business process, integration with PCMS and the first year of support for the Laserfiche system.

Electronic records management will enhance Oneida County’s ability to store, retrieve and share important records in a timely and efficient manner. It will also reduce the need to retain paper records, which will have a positive impact on facilities costs and reduce the cost of paper and copying.

As part of implementing this ECM system, Oneida County will scan thousands of boxes of documents, including police reports, arrest reports and witness statements. After these files are converted to a digital format, they will be accessible on a computer, iPad or iPhone. These files—some dating back to the 1800s—are currently stored at a records center in Westmoreland, NY, where space is quickly running out. This process will free up space at this facility and reduce the cost of maintaining the paper documents. The ultimate goal of the County will be to close or repurpose the Westmoreland facility. This software system will save Oneida County money while being environmentally friendly. The Oneida County Board of Elections will also utilize the County’s Laserfiche system. They will use Laserfiche to accept petitions to be put onto the ballot for elections. Workflows, which will follow the guidelines and dates specific to the election laws, will run upon receipt of a petition.

Also, the Oneida County Attorney will be implementing the contract review and authorization process through Laserfiche. This will utilize the Workflows and eForms functionality of Laserfiche and will ultimately touch every department in the County.

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Oneida County DPW


Oneida County, NY implemented Laserfiche to enhance their Department of Public Works’ Shared Services program.



Shiawassee County, MI


Cops as Couriers Gets Cut from Warrant Request Process

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Police in Michigan’s Shiawassee County called it the “Prosecutor Run.” A trip made twice daily by officers from Shiawassee’s 16 police departments to the County Prosecutor’s office to drop off the paperwork required to issue arrest warrants. The Prosecutor Run took hours from an officer’s workday. This was time that officers could have spent protecting and serving the communities of Shiawassee County.

“Warrant requests were a pretty involved process for us prior to going with the County’s Laserfiche ECM program,” says Shiawassee Sheriff’s Lt. Walter McPherson, referring to the software system the Prosecutor’s office opened to law enforcement agencies in 2014. “An officer would spend two or three hours every day running the paperwork back and forth, or longer if it was a complicated case. Now department secretaries do it all electronically.”

Secretaries couldn’t conduct Prosecutor Runs before due to the legalities involved in processing warrant requests. So, the Prosecutor Run seemed like an inevitable expense costing 300 to 500 hours per week of police time. But, it became an unacceptable expense in this age of computer automation.

That was how General Code stated it in a presentation to the Shiawassee County Prosecutor’s office in mid-2013. At that time, the Prosecutor’s office was using an entirely paper-based system contained in rows of metal filing cabinets. The County knew it could realize considerable labor savings by converting the paper documents into electronic records, thereby eliminating the filing cabinets. General Code Vice President Dan Foster explained that an even greater labor savings was available from the numerous software modules within the system that could automate the handling of those electronic images once they were converted.

Warrant Requests Automated with Workflow

Foster proposed using Laserfiche’s Workflow module to eliminate the Prosecutor Run. By giving police department access to the County system, warrant requests could be transferred in seconds as PDF files via email. It took General Code technicians just a few weeks to make those connections using Workflow, and when it was finished, so was the Prosecutor Run. General Code wasn’t finished, though. They saw a lot of paper and work that could be eliminated and automated in the Prosecutor’s office to cut hours and days off the time required to turn warrant requests into court appearances.

When a warrant request arrives at the County Prosecutor’s office, it kicks off a long chain of official actions and authorizations needed to meet all the confidentiality and legal requirements to produce a document that will withstand a judge’s scrutiny. Numerous offices and officials can be involved in the various combinations of manual tasks assigned to the different types of warrant requests received every day. Working with Laserfiche integration consultant IPDigital and the Prosecutor’s IT staff, General Code automated dozens of steps once done manually to issue those warrants.

For warrant requests involving juvenile offenders, necessary redactions are conducted automatically. If a warrant request is incomplete (which happens with 20% of requests), screening staff note the missing items and Workflow returns it for correction, eliminating yet more Prosecutor Runs for police. When a warrant request passes the initial screening, email alerts of the pending paperwork are sent to those next in line to receive it, and the sender is alerted when the warrant request has been successfully received. If problems arise, or supplemental information is needed at any step along the way, staffers note the revisions needed and Workflow returns or reroutes the request with similar alerts to sender and receiver. Nothing gets lost in the system anymore.

“It’s one of the most elaborate process automations I’ve ever seen,” says IPDigital’s President William Peyton. “I’ve not received any calls for support in months and the system is little more than a year old. It makes you wonder what the limitations of this technology are.”

Re-typing Eliminated & Routing of Documents Automated

Shortly after the system was up and running, those limitations were tested and surpassed in two key ways. First, General Code proposed using another module called Laserfiche Forms to eliminate the very time-consuming process for police to manually pull information from department’s records management systems and re-type it into the PDFs sent over to the Prosecutor’s office. The next step was to tie the County’s system into the state’s arrest and convictions records repository, called ACT, for assignment of a case number, which is the final step before an arrest warrant can be issued.

Now when police request a warrant, the supporting documentation is automatically uploaded from police records management systems into an electronic form, which is then uploaded into the warrant request PDF emailed to the Prosecutor’s office. When it clears the Prosecutor’s office it is routed to the state’s ACT system where it is reviewed again and, if deemed complete, assigned a case number and forwarded to the submitting police department. This is all done automatically. The County’s integration with the state’s ACT system also allows the Prosecutor’s office to access state arrest and conviction records, which often play a key role in promulgating the final charges put into the warrants, eliminating yet another function no longer handled by police.

“We no longer need to pull the conviction and criminal histories and copy them and send them over,” McPherson says. “The time and cost savings for the departments is significant. It took some work, but it all seems so simple now that it’s up and running.”

Elegant is a better word to describe the system, Foster says. Workflow now automates dozens of operations police and prosecutors previously did by hand. Tying the local, county, and state systems together required several weeks of effort by IT staff at three levels of government. “From the outset, the police and prosecutors involved had a keen appreciation for what this technology can do for them,” Foster says. “That is vital, when building these systems. It required a level of commitment and patience to put everything in place, but now they are reaping the rewards.”

Shiawassee Shines in the States Eyes

What used to take two or three days now takes little more than a morning. Moreover, as staff becomes more accustomed and proficient at using the system, unexpected benefits continually arise. Chief among them is the elimination of a lot of errors in Shiawassee’s warrant requests. The accuracy of input into ACT from Shiawassee County has improved dramatically, while other counties still have had some pretty serious problems. As a result, the courts don’t view Shiawassee in the same light as other counties when asked to act on its warrant requests.

The state has congratulated Shiawassee on the improved accuracy of the warrant requests it submits to ACT. That fact is not being lost on other counties in Michigan and elsewhere in the country, which all must conduct similar Prosecutor Runs and cope with the manual work behind warrant requests, according to Foster.

The automation of the Prosecutor Run has law enforcement in Shiawassee County looking at expanding Workflow into another time consuming operation the police must still conduct manually: printing out the warrants the prosecutor’s have issued and driving them to the courts to be executed. That too will be automated if the county courts agree to allow electronic signatures to be legally binding.

“It will save Shiawassee’s police departments even more time,” says Foster. “Courts in other counties we work with have adopted electronic signatures, so we expect it’s just a matter of time before Shiawassee’s courts do so as well.”

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Jamestown School District


Jamestown Case StudyArea schools share the cost and gain superior records management and business process automation. Over the past several years, New York State has focused on Record Managers sharing services in an effort to decrease operating costs and thus reduce the amount of tax dollars needed by individual school districts throughout the state. One of these programs is the Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF) which focuses on shared services grants. Jamestown School District’s Director, Karen Briner-Peterson, describes how Jamestown’s Laserfiche system helps neighboring communities save money through shared document management resources: “These grants will be awarded to school districts and municipalities who can prove their commitment to long-term records management solutions between two or more entities.”

The Jamestown Public School District is developing partnerships with a growing number of school districts in its area (including the Fredonia CSD, Southwestern CSD, and Panama CSD) to allow them access to Jamestown’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. Several school districts in the greater Jamestown area have begun to share business officials and other human resources personnel in order to reduce costs. Briner-Peterson adds, “At Jamestown, we will work with the school districts that share personnel, as it will allow those officials to work at one school site and still be able to access the records of the other school districts’ that they work for. There are currently 17 school districts in our county and over the next five years, we want to provide the remaining 13 school districts that don’t currently use our ECM system with the opportunity to access it at very little cost to them.”

Laserfiche Delivers Advanced Document Management along with a Disaster Recovery Plan

Located on the southern shores of Chautauqua Lake, Jamestown, NY, is the largest city in picturesque Chautauqua County. The Jamestown Public Schools serve approximately 5,000 students from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade at six neighborhood elementary schools, three middle schools and one comprehensive high school.

In 2004, the district received funding from the NYS LGRMIF to hire a records management expert to examine the feasibility of implementing document management in the HR department. By 2005, a selection committee of the district’s HR director, IS director and records management coordinator were interviewing document management vendors. “Although another vendor’s ‘unlimited user licenses’ offer was attractive from a fiscal standpoint, our selection committee was concerned that if the product wasn’t user-friendly, unlimited licenses would not make the HR staff, or any other department’s employees, more willing to use it,” says Briner-Peterson. “After a lot of research, we decided Laserfiche would best suit our needs.”

Once Laserfiche was installed, staff began with a pilot project to scan all personnel files into the system, with plans to eventually expand the project to other administrative areas and school buildings as resources and time allowed. The need for multiple file cabinets was immediately eliminated: staff designed their file structure to include five sub-folders (personnel, payroll, training, insurance and medical), set up so they could place security tags on confidential files. “Because all this information is confidential, we had to restrict access to everyone except the District Superintendent and two of our assistant superintendents,” Briner-Peterson says. And just as important is the peace of mind that Briner-Peterson and her staff enjoy knowing Jamestown’s records are finally safe, whatever may happen. “9/11 and Hurricane Katrina just proved the need to be able to continue running a business or government office immediately after a crisis,” she says. “Our largest concern was that we had no disaster plan in place. If water pipes broke or a fire started, we had no ability to recreate documents that could not be easily replaced.” All of the district’s documents are retrievable through Laserfiche WebLink so that, in case of disaster, district maintenance employees, administrators and local emergency personnel can immediately access information. In fact, Briner-Peterson is so confident in Laserfiche that she’s begun moving original hardcopy personnel files offsite to the district’s new records storage facility. “Laserfiche is the foundation of our district disaster recovery plan,” she says. “Combined with our HR and payroll software, Laserfiche hasn’t just saved us time and money, but has also enabled us to be up and running at an offsite location within a matter of hours after a disaster.”

Unexpected Benefits

While the district initially planned only a small pilot project to scan personnel files, staff soon found new and unexpected benefits from their Laserfiche system. “Our reseller General Code provided us with a modular, scalable system we could build on as time and resources allowed,” says Briner-Peterson. “In our estimation, the most unexpected benefit of Laserfiche is that we’ve been able to use it for reasons that our selection committee could never have envisioned.”

  • Managing the maintenance department’s documents. Formerly disorganized architectural drawings, schematics and operations manuals are organized chronologically by school, so they’re easily accessible to maintenance employees, administrators and first responders in the case of a disaster.
  • Creating paperless Board of Education meetings. Meeting packets could end up being several hundred pages long. Now, staff use Laserfiche Plus to create CDs of documents for each board member. Not only is less paper wasted, confidential information is more secure.
  • Simplifying the legal process. The district’s HR director uses Laserfiche to easily store, present and disseminate information during legal proceedings. Documents are easily searchable, and are presented to opposing counsel on CD.
  • Tracking provision history during collective bargaining. All collective bargaining agreements between the district and its seven unions are stored in Laserfiche. When a provision is questioned, applicable contract provisions are easily located in minutes, instead of hours.
  • Handling FOIA requests. Instead of redacting paper documents by copying a document, blacking out information and recopying the document so redacted information can’t be seen, staff simply redact the document in Laserfiche. Using the whiteout redaction tool means that readers don’t see how many words or letters were removed.
  • Searching multiple documents. Instead of manually searching 580 personnel files for requests to transfer, a simple search for the word “transfer” pulled up a list of teachers willing to transfer—in less than ten minutes.
  • Accessing permanent student record cards and transcripts. Once permanent student record cards and transcripts are transferred to the District’s Records Center, they are scanned into Laserfiche. The information is burned to CDs and sent to the High School’s Guidance Department, as they receive the majority of these records requests.

“Our confidence in Laserfiche enables us to reach out to other district departments—so we continue to find new and innovative ways to use it,” says Briner-Peterson.



Oneida County


Oneida County DA’s Office Pioneers Paperlessoneida_seal

When Oneida County was founded in 1798, it was on the frontier of a new nation. Now, Oneida County is once again pioneering into new territory as its District Attorney’s Office is the first in New York State to go paperless. Oneida County approved a capital project to install a Laserfiche Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. Once implemented, users in the District Attorney’s Office and County Clerk’s Office will be able to scan paper records into PDF format, store and share those records electronically and be able to conduct digital searches to identify and retrieve the specific records required to satisfy business needs.

Once the system is fully operational, the County’s 22 Assistant District Attorney’s will no longer need to lug boxes of documents to court. Using an iPad, they will be able to access any documents that are needed. Case information from law enforcement agencies will also be submitted electronically through electronic forms. With incoming case information in electronic form from the start, the need to scan documents will be eliminated. And cases will be assigned to attorneys faster, a process which will occur through a workflow.

Web Portal for eDiscovery

With eDiscovery, the ADA’s will tag documents that need to be shared with the defense attorneys. When ADA’s are ready to provide the defense attorneys with the discovery documents, they will trigger a workflow in Laserfiche that will gather all the tagged documents and place them in a folder for access by the defense. The defense will receive an email letting them know that their discovery is available. They will log into a password protected Web Portal to access a folder with their specific discovery documents. This saves the administration of the District Attorney’s office from having to copy and deliver the discovery to the defense attorneys. This will also give the District Attorney’s office verification that the discovery has been received and accessed by the defense.

This Laserfiche system is integrated with the DA’s case management system so that Laserfiche records can be accessed from their PCMS case management system from NYPTI. Laserfiche Rio was selected because it combines comprehensive ECM functionality with business process management, security and the auditing tools necessary to serve as the foundation of a solid ECM infrastructure. Laserfiche Rio offers central control over standards, security and auditing. It also provides individual departments with the flexibility needed to customize filing structures and workflows.

General Code of Rochester, NY, an authorized reseller of Laserfiche, assisted in establishing the framework for the ECM infrastructure for a contract cost of $142,100. The County Legislature with the commitment of the County Executive and Department Managers provided for the implementation of Laserfiche through a Capital Project. This includes 50 licenses, modules for records management, training for the District Attorney’s and IT staff, development of Workflows for automation of business process, integration with PCMS and the first year of support for the Laserfiche system.

Electronic records management will enhance Oneida County’s ability to store, retrieve and share important records in a timely and efficient manner. It will also reduce the need to retain paper records, which will have a positive impact on facilities costs and reduce the cost of paper and copying.

As part of implementing this ECM system, Oneida County will scan thousands of boxes of documents, including police reports, arrest reports and witness statements. After these files are converted to a digital format, they will be accessible on a computer, iPad or iPhone. These files—some dating back to the 1800s—are currently stored at a records center in Westmoreland, NY, where space is quickly running out. This process will free up space at this facility and reduce the cost of maintaining the paper documents. The ultimate goal of the County will be to close or repurpose the Westmoreland facility. This software system will save Oneida County money while being environmentally friendly. The Oneida County Board of Elections will also utilize the County’s Laserfiche system. They will use Laserfiche to accept petitions to be put onto the ballot for elections. Workflows, which will follow the guidelines and dates specific to the election laws, will run upon receipt of a petition.

Also, the Oneida County Attorney will be implementing the contract review and authorization process through Laserfiche. This will utilize the Workflows and eForms functionality of Laserfiche and will ultimately touch every department in the County.



Shiawassee County, MI


Cops as Couriers Gets Cut from Warrant Request Process

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Police in Michigan’s Shiawassee County called it the “Prosecutor Run.” A trip made twice daily by officers from Shiawassee’s 16 police departments to the County Prosecutor’s office to drop off the paperwork required to issue arrest warrants. The Prosecutor Run took hours from an officer’s workday. This was time that officers could have spent protecting and serving the communities of Shiawassee County.

“Warrant requests were a pretty involved process for us prior to going with the County’s Laserfiche ECM program,” says Shiawassee Sheriff’s Lt. Walter McPherson, referring to the software system the Prosecutor’s office opened to law enforcement agencies in 2014. “An officer would spend two or three hours every day running the paperwork back and forth, or longer if it was a complicated case. Now department secretaries do it all electronically.”

Secretaries couldn’t conduct Prosecutor Runs before due to the legalities involved in processing warrant requests. So, the Prosecutor Run seemed like an inevitable expense costing 300 to 500 hours per week of police time. But, it became an unacceptable expense in this age of computer automation.

That was how General Code stated it in a presentation to the Shiawassee County Prosecutor’s office in mid-2013. At that time, the Prosecutor’s office was using an entirely paper-based system contained in rows of metal filing cabinets. The County knew it could realize considerable labor savings by converting the paper documents into electronic records, thereby eliminating the filing cabinets. General Code Vice President Dan Foster explained that an even greater labor savings was available from the numerous software modules within the system that could automate the handling of those electronic images once they were converted.

Warrant Requests Automated with Workflow

Foster proposed using Laserfiche’s Workflow module to eliminate the Prosecutor Run. By giving police department access to the County system, warrant requests could be transferred in seconds as PDF files via email. It took General Code technicians just a few weeks to make those connections using Workflow, and when it was finished, so was the Prosecutor Run. General Code wasn’t finished, though. They saw a lot of paper and work that could be eliminated and automated in the Prosecutor’s office to cut hours and days off the time required to turn warrant requests into court appearances.

When a warrant request arrives at the County Prosecutor’s office, it kicks off a long chain of official actions and authorizations needed to meet all the confidentiality and legal requirements to produce a document that will withstand a judge’s scrutiny. Numerous offices and officials can be involved in the various combinations of manual tasks assigned to the different types of warrant requests received every day. Working with Laserfiche integration consultant IPDigital and the Prosecutor’s IT staff, General Code automated dozens of steps once done manually to issue those warrants.

For warrant requests involving juvenile offenders, necessary redactions are conducted automatically. If a warrant request is incomplete (which happens with 20% of requests), screening staff note the missing items and Workflow returns it for correction, eliminating yet more Prosecutor Runs for police. When a warrant request passes the initial screening, email alerts of the pending paperwork are sent to those next in line to receive it, and the sender is alerted when the warrant request has been successfully received. If problems arise, or supplemental information is needed at any step along the way, staffers note the revisions needed and Workflow returns or reroutes the request with similar alerts to sender and receiver. Nothing gets lost in the system anymore.

“It’s one of the most elaborate process automations I’ve ever seen,” says IPDigital’s President William Peyton. “I’ve not received any calls for support in months and the system is little more than a year old. It makes you wonder what the limitations of this technology are.”

Re-typing Eliminated & Routing of Documents Automated

Shortly after the system was up and running, those limitations were tested and surpassed in two key ways. First, General Code proposed using another module called Laserfiche Forms to eliminate the very time-consuming process for police to manually pull information from department’s records management systems and re-type it into the PDFs sent over to the Prosecutor’s office. The next step was to tie the County’s system into the state’s arrest and convictions records repository, called ACT, for assignment of a case number, which is the final step before an arrest warrant can be issued.

Now when police request a warrant, the supporting documentation is automatically uploaded from police records management systems into an electronic form, which is then uploaded into the warrant request PDF emailed to the Prosecutor’s office. When it clears the Prosecutor’s office it is routed to the state’s ACT system where it is reviewed again and, if deemed complete, assigned a case number and forwarded to the submitting police department. This is all done automatically. The County’s integration with the state’s ACT system also allows the Prosecutor’s office to access state arrest and conviction records, which often play a key role in promulgating the final charges put into the warrants, eliminating yet another function no longer handled by police.

“We no longer need to pull the conviction and criminal histories and copy them and send them over,” McPherson says. “The time and cost savings for the departments is significant. It took some work, but it all seems so simple now that it’s up and running.”

Elegant is a better word to describe the system, Foster says. Workflow now automates dozens of operations police and prosecutors previously did by hand. Tying the local, county, and state systems together required several weeks of effort by IT staff at three levels of government. “From the outset, the police and prosecutors involved had a keen appreciation for what this technology can do for them,” Foster says. “That is vital, when building these systems. It required a level of commitment and patience to put everything in place, but now they are reaping the rewards.”

Shiawassee Shines in the States Eyes

What used to take two or three days now takes little more than a morning. Moreover, as staff becomes more accustomed and proficient at using the system, unexpected benefits continually arise. Chief among them is the elimination of a lot of errors in Shiawassee’s warrant requests. The accuracy of input into ACT from Shiawassee County has improved dramatically, while other counties still have had some pretty serious problems. As a result, the courts don’t view Shiawassee in the same light as other counties when asked to act on its warrant requests.

The state has congratulated Shiawassee on the improved accuracy of the warrant requests it submits to ACT. That fact is not being lost on other counties in Michigan and elsewhere in the country, which all must conduct similar Prosecutor Runs and cope with the manual work behind warrant requests, according to Foster.

The automation of the Prosecutor Run has law enforcement in Shiawassee County looking at expanding Workflow into another time consuming operation the police must still conduct manually: printing out the warrants the prosecutor’s have issued and driving them to the courts to be executed. That too will be automated if the county courts agree to allow electronic signatures to be legally binding.

“It will save Shiawassee’s police departments even more time,” says Foster. “Courts in other counties we work with have adopted electronic signatures, so we expect it’s just a matter of time before Shiawassee’s courts do so as well.”

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Shiawassee County Webinar


Shiawassee County Webinar to District Attorneys



Tompkins County Court


County Court System Goes Paperless and Mobile

Seated in Ithaca, NY, Tompkins County is a progressive community of just over 100,000 people who prize environmental and social sustainability. “Our county vehicles are hybrids, our new county buildings are all LEED certified and we are always on the lookout for environmentally friendly products,” explains Maureen Reynolds, deputy county clerk.

In fact, Reynolds explains, one of the county’s major goals for the next few years is to enable 10 to 20 percent of its workforce to work from home at least part of the time. “From a green perspective, this will allow us to cut back on the number of people driving to work, and it will save energy at the county buildings,” she says. “It’s also very important from a disaster recovery perspective to enable an ‘untethered workforce,’” Reynolds adds. “If another Hurricane Sandy were to hit, we want to be sure that key employees can still do their jobs from their homes. My biggest fear is to be on the front page of the paper under the caption, ‘Why didn’t they take care of this?’” She also notes that many employees need to be able to do their jobs from the field, including county judges, the district attorney (DA) and the assistant district attorneys (ADAs). “We have five county judges who need to be able to access case files from the bench, and do rotate from court to court on occasion. Going paperless has had a lot of benefits for them.”

The Path to Paperlessness

The Tompkins County Clerk’s Office started scanning records back in 2001. Over a nine-year period, it scanned 193 years’ worth of land and court records. Based on its success with scanning, county administration asked the clerk’s office to take over the county records center, an old building with 9,000 boxes of records and an antiquated tracking database.

“They told us we wouldn’t get any additional budget or staff. I actually called my IT director and cried a little before asking, ‘What can we do?’” says Reynolds.

She explains, “We knew we had the on-staff knowledge, expertise, IT support, IT infrastructure and vendor partnerships to turn this program around—but we needed an enterprise system, so we started looking for one. Our CIO had seen a Laserfiche demo when he was interviewing vendors for our County Legislature’s meeting minute software. He thought it would work well for our countywide records needs.”

Reynolds notes that the original plan was to simply put barcodes on the boxes to keep better track of them. However, “once we saw what Laserfiche could do, we decided to scan all 9,000 boxes in the records center, destroy the paper and eventually
tear down the building.”

Tompkins County had been planning to either build a new records center or renovate the existing building, which would have cost somewhere between $2.3 million and $6 million. Analysis showed that spending between $400,000 and $500,000 for scanning, software upgrades and IT infrastructure updates would save Tompkins County between $2.3 million and $5.5 million dollars.

“After that,” Reynolds says, “it was pretty clear that digitizing the records was the way to go.”

Paperless Court Cases

For the County Clerk’s office, back-scanning old court records had a big impact. As the owner of the county’s court records, the clerk’s office used to be charged with sifting through paper files in the dilapidated records center.

Now, all civil and criminal cases from 1817 through 2009 have been digitized. Using Laserfiche’s online, self-serve document portal (which Tompkins County has configured for both public and secure internal search and retrieval), judges, law clerks and legal secretaries can instantly view closed cases with the click of a button — saving a great deal of time for the County Clerk’s Office employees.

According to Reynolds, the judges have been using the portal to view archived case files on their laptops and mobile devices such as iPads for the last three years. This has been particularly helpful when a judge needs to review the cases associated with a repeat offender.

Within the last year, the County Clerk’s Office has begun handling the day-forward scanning of all court-related paperwork, which has eliminated delays in paperwork processing. “In the past, people could file their papers in our office, with a court clerk or with a judge,” Reynolds explains.

Today, everything goes through the County Clerk’s Office, whether it is paper or digital, and it is processed the day it is received. Paper documents are scanned and integrated with a land management system that time- and date-stamps the documents. After that, documents are emailed to the judges right away.

“Tompkins County handles approximately 1,400 civil cases and 4,500 criminal cases a year, so processing delays could really slow things down,” says Reynolds. “The judges appreciate having timely, anywhere access to the files they need to see.”

District Attorney’s Office Goes Digital

Piggybacking on the success of the Tompkins County Court, the District Attorney’s office is also looking to go paperless. “Our ADAs have to drag giant boxes of files into court. Oftentimes, they’re traveling to the town courts at night, when no one is in the DAs office, so making everything available to them in a digital format will make their jobs so much easier,” says Reynolds.

According to Loren Cottrell, deputy director of IT services at Tompkins County, the DA’s office is currently looking to migrate from a legacy case management system onto NYPTI, a state system developed by the New York State Prosecutors Training Institution. Laserfiche will be integrated with NYPTI such that case documents will be created in NYPTI and archived. Documents will be born digital, eliminating the need for paper records completely.

“Oneida County has integrated Laserfiche with NYPTI, and we are hoping to learn from what they’ve done and implement our new system this summer,” says Cottrell.

Prior to implementation, Tompkins County will run the project through its “Smart Office Initiative,” in which it partners with Tompkins Cortland Community College to analyze existing processes, document what the new processes will look like and get buy-in from all stakeholders. “All new or major IT initiatives in Tompkins County are required to go through the Smart Office Initiative,” explains Greg Potter, IT director for the county. “For process-driven projects, the departments need to go through this initiative to define their processes before we’re willing to jump in on the IT side. It helps us determine who’s ready and who’s going to succeed.”

Reynolds adds that, whenever a department is looking to go paperless, it’s important to study the department’s folder structure and analyze its workflows. “You can have the best software in the world, but if you don’t make your end user comfortable with it, they will not use it,” she explains. Potter notes that while the IT department is mapping out the streamlined case management process and preparing to integrate Laserfiche and NYPTI, it is also expanding the Wi-Fi access
points in the courtrooms so that the DA and ADAs will be able to access their case files using mobile devices.

Reynolds is confident that the new paperless system will work well for the DA’s Office. “Judges sometimes have the reputation for being conservative and slow to embrace change, but our judges took to our paperless approach very easily,” she says. “When I first told them about (the new platform), I said,‘Trust me, you’re going to love it.’ And they do!”

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Reproduced with permission

workflowOTG.com



Tompkins County Shared Services


A Shared Services Success Story

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Maureen Reynolds, Deputy County Clerk of Tompkins County, NY knows a little bit about document management. One could say that she climbed an enormous paper mountain, and helped turn records management around for her county and the communities it contains. When the process began, the task looked insurmountable. Reynolds describes the situation on Day One: “We were given the assignment to manage the Tompkins County Records Department and the County’s Inactive Records Center. These were contained in a dilapidated former library building, where the boiler and HVAC were barely working and the roof leaked. Inside this document dungeon were stored the paper records for 28 separate County departments, equaling a grand total of 9,000 boxes! Our program also inherited a pair of obsolete databases (Access and MASS-11). On top of that, the County’s records program had been severely neglected for the past 10 years and it really needed our help.” And that’s just the beginning. Little did Maureen (or anyone in Tompkins County for that matter) realize that a strong combination of planning, a whole lot of elbow-grease and document scanning could manage to yield a county-wide Laserfiche solution that would include villages, towns and even the City of Ithaca.

Nothing Succeeds Like Success

Positive momentum is critical for consensus and “buy-in” amongst department heads and colleagues. Capitalizing on her early successes, Reynolds and her team of Laserfiche experts further expanded their document management integration across Tompkins County. Walking us through the spread of Laserfiche into multiple departments and communities, Reynolds states: “We replaced an Access and MASS-11 database in the records program that only was used to track the boxes stored in the records center. As we have implemented Laserfiche in other departments, we have replaced those departments’ databases with Laserfiche and have used Affinity to instantly integrate Laserfiche with other third-party applications. Our biggest success with Laserfiche integration was with our new HR/Payroll system. Prior to the HR/Payroll implementation, we had scanned all of that department’s paper records and they are now available in Laserfiche.

We recently upgraded to Laserfiche RIO and have all 28 County departments (as well as 13 Tompkins County towns and villages, plus the City of Ithaca) using Laserfiche, and plan on upgrading to 100 County users by next year. We also offer County-hosting for the records of the 16 cities, towns and villages in our County. Some specific examples include: in our shared services for our towns, we have automated the routing of their legislative resolutions from an incoming folder, and with the individual towns’ building departments, we automated the notifications of their ‘land parcel splits’ at the county level. This allows the towns’ code enforcement officers (CEOs) to obtain this information from the appropriate town repository, and simultaneously notifies that town’s CEO via e-mail about the new land parcel information.”

All of this digital document management and shared services has not gone unnoticed at a state level either, resulting in grants for further expansion and also simplifying compliance with New York State records retention requirements. “We have been awarded grants for shared services to implement this through the New York State Archives and their records management program. Also, all new software for any County department must be able to digitally drop the official record copy into Laserfiche at least once a year – as we are using Laserfiche to meet our records retention requirements as set by New York State.”

9,000 Boxes, 28 Departments’ Records & One Leaky Roof

Every great journey begins with a first step. Maureen and her team looked far and wide for a complete document management solution and found Laserfiche. Reynolds explains: “We had just finished a large EDMS for the County Clerk’s office, including 193 years of land and court records, and we felt that we had the on-staff knowledge and expertise, IT support and infrastructure, as well as the vendor partnerships to turn the County records program around. However, we needed an enterprise-wide system, so we started looking for one. My CIO had seen a Laserfiche demo when interviewing vendors for our County Legislature’s meeting minutes software. He thought Laserfiche would work well for our county-wide records needs. The transparent records management was critical for us as well as the Records Management Officer for the County. We chose Laserfiche because of the folder structure set up for ease of use, the security of the audit trail, the records management module, the simplified business process of workflow and the experience and reputation of our VAR—General Code.”

You can probably guess where this story is going (spoiler alert: there was a lot of document scanning involved). Maureen is justifiably proud when she notes the initial results: “We have since scanned all 9,000 boxes of documents, which eliminated the need for a new building to be constructed, thus saving $5.5 million! We eliminated paper records in our County offices and are hosting our solution for all of our local town and city governments using a shared services approach. We have established a user group and have received grant funding from New York State to further develop this project. We have also just completed the scanning of minutes and building permits for our local city, town and village governments, and those governments are leveraging our Laserfiche expertise by using our IT staff and network, and our disaster recovery solutions as well. The Laserfiche solution really is serving the entire County.”

Goodbye Paper Records, Hello Laserfiche

The advancements of the digital world pay significant dividends in the real, physical world. Just ask the various departments of Tompkins County, who suddenly find themselves with extra workspace formerly swallowed up by document storage. And the taxpayers in Tompkins County tend to feel a bit better too, considering that all that scanning saved all that storage space and in the neighborhood of $5.5 million of real money too. When Deputy County Clerk Maureen Reynolds says “trust me,” folks around Tompkins County are more than happy to: “My favorite saying is ‘Trust me, you will love it’ as I wheel all of their paper records out the door to go to our scanning vendor, never to return as space-wasting paper records again! I have never had a problem yet, and everyone has been extremely happy with what we have done with their department’s records and with Laserfiche. We mimic their folder structure to what they have in their paper filing cabinets (or their existing digital file structure) so that end users are comfortable with the product we bring back to them in Laserfiche.” “We currently have 13 municipal partners using our County-hosted solution, with our network, disaster recovery and IT staff, along with other staff from the County. We share training sessions and user group meetings, and work together to create solutions that we can all benefit from. We have also set up a governance structure, user group agreement and by-laws to our group, which we named TSSERR (Tompkins Shared Services Electronic Records Repository).”

Can’t we all just get along? Apparently, in Tompkins County, they really can. Who knew that scanning 9,000 boxes of records into Laserfiche could make so many people in so many departments so happy and productive? That’s the power of Laserfiche.

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City of Ithaca


City of Ithaca FOIL Workflow Process

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In the spirit of New York State’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), the City of Ithaca is working hard to support open, accountable government by proactively posting information on the Web for public access. Due to privacy issues – such as a crime victim’s identity on a police report – some classes of documents will always require review, research and redaction by the City Attorney. To facilitate this process, the City created a workflow solution that automates several aspects of FOIL request fulfillment while providing tracking and accountability. This frees up resources and makes it easier for the City to remain compliant with the law.

Opening Doors to Open Government

Ithaca City Clerk Julie Holcomb is passionate about public access to information. As she declares, “My goal is 24/7 access for our constituents.” That’s a good thing for the citizens of Ithaca, NY, because one of the hats she wears is that of “Records Access Officer.” In this role she ensures the availability of public records while protecting the privacy of certain types of content in concert with the City Attorney’s Office.

Alan Karasin, Holcomb’s Senior Network Administrator, matches her passion with his own sense of mission on the technology side. “Compared to other communities that may outsource FOIL requests at a cost of $50 to $60 and charge for reports, we want to provide no- or low-cost access for the people legally entitled to see the reports,” he says. In 2014, Holcomb and Karasin advanced their goals by designing, piloting and launching a semi-automated FOIL workflow process in just a couple of months.

Technology in Service of Accessibility

For many municipalities, FOIL serves as the default way to request copies of government documents, such as meeting minutes and budgets.

Holcomb and Karasin had already leveraged their Laserfiche system to mitigate many possible FOIL requests. “You could say we are taking a hybrid approach,” says Holcomb. “We created a Laserfiche Weblink portal to provide immediate online access to government documents that don’t require review by the City Attorney. I call it the ‘Quick-FOIL’ option.”

Today, the City Clerk’s Office manages an electronic public record repository with folders that house agendas, land use plans, the city budget, and more. Here, from the convenience of your PC or mobile device, you can review minutes and policies from over 20 City entities that range from the Bicycle Safety Advisory Council to the Youth Bureau Advisory Board. Documents are added on a going-forward basis, with some back-file conversions when and where public interest warrants and resources allow. “We posted City Common Council meeting minutes back to 1929,” says Holcomb. “If you want to research some public issue, say water fluoridation, you can follow the debates through history.”

Streamlining FOIL, Inside and Out

“After we attended the 2014 Laserfiche Empower Conference we got fired up about what to do next,” says Holcomb. “Yes,” agrees Karasin, “We took what we learned about Laserfiche Workflow and went looking for opportunities where it would have the biggest impact.” They quickly settled on FOIL as their target. “It’s a time-intensive process that touches every City department,” notes Holcomb, “and it involves 500 to 600 requests per year.”

“Our FOIL process was somewhat informal,” says Holcomb. Requests arrived over the counter or through email. She identified the document and department involved. Then she forwarded the request to the department head and the City Attorney. The process was somewhat problematic from there and involved a certain amount of risk. “There are severe legal penalties if we miss a deadline, such as notifying the requestor that we have received his or her request, and it was hard to know the status of a request in process,” says Holcomb. “Interoffice mail to a remote department could add time. And there wasn’t really any accountability.”

In June of 2014, Holcomb and Karasin approached the City Attorney’s Office. “We got stakeholder buy-in immediately,” remembers Karasin. “They said, ‘This can help us with FOIL? Sign us up.’”

DIY Process Re-engineering: Bootstrapping Improvements

Ithaca’s Laserfiche system is part of a shared services system with Tompkins County, which maintains their Laserfiche Server setup. The City, County and area municipalities regularly collaborate on Laserfiche initiatives. “One of us will develop and pilot an idea,” explains Karasin, “Then we’ll share it around. That way we all get more from our Laserfiche investment.”

The team mapped out process steps for the incumbent FOIL process and gathered requirements so they could understand the content and flow of the information involved. Laserfiche Workflow tools enabled them to design possible workflows. “We reviewed and tested our work repeatedly,” says Karasin. “We were able to add efficiency to the process as we went along.”

In July, Holcomb started using the Laserfiche Workflow internally, entering information from written requests and emails into the online request ticket to initiate the process. This was a worthwhile intermediate step. “Using the process allowed us to tweak things and make some adjustments to the workflow before we went live,” says Holcomb. From there it was an easy transition to public availability in September.

Achieving Accessibility with Accountability

Given its convenience, Holcomb expects Ithaca’s FOIL Workflow to continue to gain in popularity. “Now it’s much more easy for drivers or insurance agents to request copies of accident reports. Neighbors can review the specifics of a noise permit associated with a special event organized by college students. Landowners can get planning documents for adjacent developments.”

It’s easier for the City Clerks Office, too. “Our FOIL workflow gives us visibility into the process,” reports Holcomb. “If I need to, I can check on the progress of a request in seconds and kick off a reminder to a department head, for instance. The system generates age-out reminders for the Attorney’s Office to help them stay current. Simply speaking, requests can’t be overlooked or misplaced.”

Holcomb sees multiple operational benefits. “My office runs more efficiently, with fewer FOIL-related interruptions to disrupt our daily work. And some FOIL work steps are now automated. For instance, the system generates requester notification correspondence automatically. I understand that the City Attorney’s Office used to dedicate a full-time position to FOIL processing. Those 40 hours have been reduced to 18 hours, or a half-time position.”

Clearly Holcomb and Karasin achieved their goals. “We’re saving time, money and resources,” concludes Holcomb, “And we’ve made information much more accessible to the public.”

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City of Vandalia


A Smooth-Running Building Department

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The To-Do list at the City of Vandalia Department of Development & Engineering Services (DES) would look familiar to anyone involved in code enforcement: review plans, issue permits, conduct inspections, respond to complaints, and collect fees. What is different about this department is the ease with which the staff moves from task to task.

At the counter, a contractor hands plans and permit applications for a kitchen bump out to Office Manager Vicki Hawse. She logs the plans into the parcel management system, noting the address and other key information. When the phone rings with a complaint about a neighbor’s shabby fence, Hawse pulls up the parcel record on her PC in a few seconds, and verifies that the owner was issued a citation and did obtain a permit to construct a new, higher fence that should fix the eyesore.

Over on Ted Baker’s desktop, a new task item appears, prompted by Hawse’s earlier submission. As Chief Building Official, Baker reviews the plans and opens a desktop window to work on permits. A handy “Code” tab lets him see setback requirements, circuit capacities and so on. He might check on old permits pulled for the residence to look for issues that could come up in the course of new construction and flag them for the inspector’s attention. Using drop down menus and check-off boxes, he indicates which associated inspections are required. Satisfied that all the information is correct, Baker clicks his mouse and goes on to his next item. In the background, Municity™ automatically calculates fees, generates permits and invoices, sends out notifications and updates the parcel record.

Nearby, Building Inspector Chris Mastrino, back from a busy morning, enters his field reports into the system. He pulls up a parcel summary page, where he can search by parcel, application, permit or certificate of occupancy, complaint, occupant or building. He begins filling in fields on the first inspection report. As he types, the system starts showing parcels that match, allowing him to find what he’s after with only a few keystrokes.
As he works on a report, Mastrino may upload a photo or add a note that automatically attaches itself to the parcel record. Any fee collection he notes will automatically be added to that day’s Fee Report. At any time, he can click on his schedule to check on his afternoon appointments and planning review meetings. Periodically, interval inspections automatically show up on his daily tickler list.

And as the work continues, there are two things you won’t see much of in the Vandalia DES office: paper and frustration. What you will see instead is a highly integrated team operation in action.

Overcoming A Parcel Data Dilemma

Property information wasn’t always so accessible and processing didn’t always run so smoothly at the Vandalia DES. “We went to computers a few years back,” recalled Mastrino. “But what we had was a DOS-based database system that was pretty bare-bones and not easy to use.”

Calling up a parcel record could be tricky. For example, command line retrievals required exact entry. Keying in “Maple,” “Maple Street,” “Maple St” or “Maple St.” would only return an exact match. Depending on past activity, there might be multiple duplicate records for that particular parcel created by accident. And the information in one might very well pre-date or contradict the data in another record, leading to compounding errors.

By 2014 the system had reached the end of its useful life and the original developer was no longer around to support the system. It was time for a more robust solution that did more than just manage parcel records.

The entire department had input into identifying its successor. “When we went looking for a replacement,” said Baker, “we wanted some specific things, including ease of use, convenience, pull down menus, the ability to do property searches, and built-in complaint tracking. And we wanted everything to be integrated. As it turned out, we got what we wanted with our new Municity system.”

Taking Back The Records

The department interviewed several vendors. “What impressed us most about the Municity demonstration General Code did was the software integration and ease of use,” recalled Mastrino. “Implementation was fairly smooth,” he said. “General Code cleaned up and moved over our old database. That process was transparent to us; all we saw were exceptions that only a DES employee would know how to resolve.”

After a week’s worth of group and one-on-one training with a General Code technician who had handled their solution integration, the DES went live. “We’re happy with General Code,” said Mastrino. “Anytime we’ve had a question, the General Code technician talks us through it or gets back to us with a fix.” Mostly, the DES takes Municity for granted.

Transforming The Work Environment

The department is running Municity’s Building Department Module. It unites parcel history, inspections, complaints and fees within a single desktop environment. It’s easy to issue a permit, check on inspections or prepare for a planning meeting while working on the same parcel.

“The system allows us to manage all our parcel data in one place. And it makes it much more easy for our department to manage the work,” commented Baker. An integrated calendar with scheduling tools allows Baker to check on his team’s workload in a few clicks. If he notices that Mastrino has inspections at opposite ends of the city, he can reschedule the appointments to allow more travel time.

One favorite benefit? “The system consolidates the functions I need to do,” said Baker. “For example, I can set up fees and notifications on the same screen I use to issue a permit. And it integrates the workflow among our team.” Automatic notifications and task queuing sends work where it needs to be done. Notes accompany the work. “If I see that there was a drainage problem on the parcel a few years back,” said Baker, “I can note that for Chris to eyeball for that when he’s inspecting a foundation, for instance. Notes help us share information that can help ensure public safety, which is what we are here for.”

Mastrino is a big fan of Municity’s templates and pull-down menus in his daily work. “Let’s say I have the inspection window open for a parcel. I click on the expand button next to ‘Inspections’ and bam, there’s a list of all the possible inspection types. When I select one, the categories of fill-in boxes on the screen change automatically.”

Mastrino said Municity makes him more efficient and accurate. “The way the system is set up, I can find what I need quickly. I can go out with an inspection form specific to that property that I’ve created in the system. Then when I record my inspection report I can be faster and more accurate because the template matches.”

Hawse, who is often at the front lines with residents and contractors, appreciates how Municity simplifies her work. “It’s easy to look up an address and respond to a customer immediately,” she said. “Suppose a neighbor calls us about a vacant house. Because the system tracks complaints and permits, I can pull up the complete picture in seconds and get an idea of what needs to happen. I can use the system to send an email to Ted to flag the property and generate a ‘Dear Neighbor’ letter from a template in practically no time. And all of those actions become part of the parcel record for the next person who needs to work on it.”

Baker has the following advice for other building departments looking for a parcel management solution: “Make sure the vendors show that your old data is convertible to the new system. And compare how you operate today to how things will run with the new system. General Code minimized changes. We only needed to adapt somewhat and it all worked out.”

Asked what his team would do if he threatened to shut down Municity, Baker said, “They would mutiny.” Obviously, Municity is the preferred way of doing business at the Vandalia DES.

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