HR automates Employment Application processing with electronic workflow.

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ST. LAWRENCE-LEWIS BOCES HR


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Automated Employment Application Processing

In the North Country of New York State, the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services (SLL BOCES) is leading the way for school districts that want to work more efficiently with technology.

For example, when a prospective substitute teacher applies to an open position on the BOCES Human Resources Department Web page, he or she joins an electronic workflow that’s saved the HR staff time and trouble even before posting. And that application will be vetted, reviewed and approved for consideration and then routed to the hiring administrator without a single piece of paper being printed. If all goes well for the applicant, this same workflow will create new hire documents that will be automatically added to his or her personnel file in a safe, secure digital repository.

A Switch to Digital Records

Initially, SLL BOCES and a single local school district piloted Laserfiche for electronic content management (ECM). Using a grant from the Local Records Management Improvement Fund administered by the New York State Archives, the agency installed Laserfiche and executed conversion programs to scan personnel and payroll records into a repository server for ready access from user desktops.

Today, SLL BOCES hosts Laserfiche as a shared service for multiple school districts across St. Lawrence County. Plans call for a total of eight districts to be fully onboard by the end of the third year of the program. Having embraced the benefits of online records management, SLL BOCES recently took the next step and initiated active electronic content management using Laserfiche Forms and Workflow software.

Meet the BOCES Change Agent

Human Resources Assistant Lee-ann Morgan is the point person for paperwork digitization at SLL BOCES. Among other things, she tracks employee attendance, manages the hiring process at BOCES and supports applicant certification as a shared service for school districts across St. Lawrence and Lewis Counties. She is also the Laserfiche System Administrator and mentor to the growing number of Laserfiche installs served by SLL BOCES.

What does Morgan see as the biggest benefit of Laserfiche? “Convenience. It’s convenient to have all your personnel records on your desktop at your fingertips, not in some locked room,” she says. “Managing files, like adding to records is easy. The audit trail is wonderful, too. If you ever need to see what was done and who did it, you’ll know.“

Capitalizing on an Automation Opportunity

In the second year of her Laserfiche implementation, Morgan took the plunge and created a digital workflow for the BOCES hiring process. “There was a lot of planning involved,” she says. “You really have to think about how forms are processed before you start. For example, we designed our eForms online application to automatically force the applicant to include a Social Security Number (SSN) in order to submit the application.”

Morgan needs that SSN in order to certify the applicant has completed mandatory fingerprinting later in the hiring process. By capturing that data upfront, she eliminates exception processing that would otherwise force her to pursue an applicant who omitted his or her SSN, saving the time and trouble of emails, phone calls and letters.

She’s had help working out details like this. “Andy Squires, our tech support person at General Code has been instrumental,” says Morgan. “He trained us on Laserfiche and worked with us to set up our repository, helping us determine our folder structure and metadata categories. When it came to setting up the workflow, he and I were in almost daily contact for a while. I called him up with questions and we’d work out a scenario of what to do.”

Paperless Processing in Action

What Morgan and Squires worked out looks like this:

  • A hiring administrator completes an eForms new hire announcement
  • Morgan receives a notice of the announcement
  • Morgan opens the announcement and checks it for required certifications and proper civil service titling
  • The announcement routes to the BOCES Superintendent for review and approval
  • The approved announcement routes to union groups for posting and posts to the BOCES Web site employment page
  • The applicant completes and submits an eForms application online
  • Workflow automatically emails a letter of receipt acknowledgement to applicant, together with any detailed requirements associated with the position
  • The system adds the application to Morgan’s task list for vetting
  • Morgan vets the incoming application to make certain the candidate is eligible, certified and meets the stated qualifications
  • The vetted application routes to the hiring administrator for follow up
  • When interviewing is complete, the hiring administrator completes a new hire eForm, which routes to Morgan for onboarding processing
  • Data from the new employee’s application automatically transfers to a new employee personnel file

Throughout the workflow, reviewers and approvers have the option to kick the application back to the proper person for correction if an error or omission crops up.

Automation Saves Aggravation

Morgan can point to several ways the hiring workflow improves efficiency. “Before Laserfiche, sending a letter of receipt meant composing a letter, printing it, putting it in an envelope, adding postage and mailing it.” Workflow eliminates all of those manual, time-consuming steps.

Like in any busy office, a priority project can sometimes take over Morgan’s schedule. The system will prompt her if her task list deadlines slip. She explains, “We set the workflow so that if an application hasn’t been vetted within five days, I get an email. I can either take care of it or reassign the action to another HR staffer.

“Workflow is huge. A process becomes a procedure. Instead of me having to remember to contact a person in the chain, automation does it for me,” she says. Having the system keep track of processing is just one benefit of replacing interoffice mail traffic with electronic routing and notification. With Laserfiche workflow, digital documents can’t be mislaid or lost in processing, providing SLL BOCES with the most efficient path from job posting to new hire folder while taking the paper out of paperwork.

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