This is the third post of a multi-part recap of the 2015 e-Records Conference. Presentation materials from the e-Records Conference are available on the e-Records 2015 website.
“Going paperless” is a popular business trend these days, but implementing Electronic Content Management (ECM) for the first time in a traditional office setting can be perilous if not carefully planned and executed. To avoid any potential disasters, we can look at examples of government offices that have successfully transitioned into a mostly-paperless environment, learn from their practical experiences, and gain confidence in going forward in a digital environment. Jenequa Eldridge, Records Management Officer for Denton ISD, along with DocuNav Solution’s Ashley Jackson, co-presented a case study at this year’s e-Records Conference to showcase the process for converting student and accounts payable records into a secure, accessible and digitized repository.
Denton ISD faced several challenges and compelling reasons to improve their systems, such as:
- The amount of available space to store physical/hard copy records was diminishing.
- They had a few new campuses opening soon.
- Instead of having a dedicated RMO, an Executive Director’s Assistant, who wore many hats, was responsible for records management in this large school district.
- They needed automated/electronic processing to decrease the amount of paper.
The school district set out to look for a system that would manage records, allow intuitive searching, integrate with other departmental systems, and keep confidential records secure. They already used Laserfiche for electronic records management – which automatically applied TSLAC retention schedules – and several other applications used for accounting, HR, and other operations. The new ECM solution would aim to tie everything together.
Ms. Eldridge and Ms. Jackson gave a virtual tour behind the scenes of their ECM, featuring an accounts payable workflow example, which users of the system call “magic.” The end users only see what they need, and records managers can see everything. Purchase orders are imported from the financial system using batch processing, and documents are named and filed in appropriate folders for fiscal years. The new workflow meant processing these files only took a few clicks, instead of the old way of shuffling papers for hours.
As for the lessons, Denton ISD realized that electronic processing is very different than physical; we can’t apply the same filing principles to shared drives that we did for physical filing cabinets. They learned that electronic processing allows for easier accessibility; for instance, when various people in a department are all accessing documents for different reasons files can be lost in the shuffle, so it’s good to tailor access according to workflow. And one big lesson that Denton came away with was not fully using all of the automation features. Trying to move files manually can result in human error and potentially miss out on ECM capabilities. Doing it the right way, with careful planning and forethought, can bring a business process from a 7-day task to a 2-hour task.
An ECM solution is not going to solve every records management challenge right out of the box, and we can’t apply our old way of thinking about filing to the new automated methods. When government offices ask us about document management systems, we can’t recommend one over another, but we do often recommend talking to another local government that has first-hand experience. Case studies like this one can give valuable insight to an office seeking to successfully transform their document management into a mostly ‘paperless’ environment.