Laserfiche Improves Access to Records
The Tahoe City Public Utility District (TCPUD) was founded in 1938 and is the oldest locally-based government in the Tahoe Basin. It was formed initially to provide public water service to the Tahoe City area but was expanded both in service area and in services provided. TCPUD now provides sewer collection, parks facilities, and recreation services for the entire 31 square mile area of the District. Water service is provided in five separate systems and serves approximately half of the homes and businesses in the District.
Up until 2011, all District Records were stored in paper format which were kept in filing cabinets and map drawers, this made searching for and retrieving information inefficient. What the District needed was a way to effectively access records, maps, and information quickly and easily.
In the spring of 2011, Sean Barclay, now the Director of Support Services, was invited to an ECS Imaging User Group hosted at South Tahoe Public Utility District, a neighbor agency, and was introduced to Laserfiche. At the time he was developing a custom database to store and manage engineering plans, a solution which would have been expensive and not very user-friendly. After hearing about Laserfiche and its potential from ECS Vice-President, Pete Herschelman and other ECS staff, he was sold and entered into an agreement shortly after to purchase a Laserfiche Avante system. The system currently has 20 users, Distributed Computing Cluster, Web Access, and Laserfiche Mobile.
“Our pilot project with Laserfiche was the scanning of all of our engineering plans and as-built maps for both our Utilities and Parks infrastructure. The time savings we saw in searching and retrieval of maps by staff led to an ongoing effort to use Laserfiche for the management of all District Records. The District has recently adopted a comprehensive records retention policy and Laserfiche will be the key to effectively managing the policy”, he said.
The District has improved numerous business processes through the use of Laserfiche. Access to critical utility mapping by staff has been improved dramatically. A process which at one point would have taken 10-15 minutes to look through map drawers to find the correct map has been cut to about 30 seconds. The ability to text search our repository has dramatically reduced time spent researching historical District and Board documents. Access and retrieval of the District’s capital project files has been improved greatly. Financial documentation for accounts payable is now readily accessible to Supervisors and Managers for review. Having this documentation available in Laserfiche has also saved time during the annual audit by providing direct access to digital files through Laserfiche.
Sean was involved in the implementation of the District’s initial Laserfiche system and has continued to be the District’s Laserfiche administrator. He has overseen the growth of the repository from the initial pilot project containing about 5,000 documents (maps) to now over 66,000 documents containing over 426,000 files. The initial implementation was conducted on-site by ECS staff and was a quick easy process. “I was impressed with ECS’s strong approach to customer service and continue to be to this day”, said Sean.
“Laserfiche is such a user-friendly system. The simple, Windows “style” user interface makes the system very approachable for first time users, which has really helped District staff embrace and become comfortable using it. The familiar folder structure design makes the transition from a Windows file based system easier for staff and gives them ‘comfort’ that they can quickly find their documents when they discover the power of the Laserfiche search capability. For seasoned users these search capabilities make searching and retrieval so much easier than flipping through paper files. The straightforward and powerful administration tools make responding to user requests and system design changes easy and efficient to process and implement.”
For organizations considering a document management system, Sean has these recommendations, “Keep it simple to start, Laserfiche has so many capabilities that it can be daunting to start. Clearly limit and define the business process or need that you want to address first and start with that. As users become comfortable with the system you’ll begin to see opportunities present themselves. It’s important to get key staff’s support and backing for the system before trying to deploy it too widely”, he explained.
In the near future, the District will be undertaking a project to add appropriate meta-data to existing document types in order to efficiently manage and comply with their document retention policy. They will also begin looking into the use of Laserfiche Connector to create even more efficient access to documents and would like to begin implementing workflow processes through Laserfiche. The District will be considering adding Laserfiche Weblink Portal to improve transparency and public access to certain District documents.
Additionally, the District is working on a pilot project to use Laserfiche Mobile on iPads for field workers that will provide access to as-built mapping for the Utilities staff and access to property records for inspection staff.
Laserfiche has been instrumental in driving efficiencies in the access of data throughout the District. It has helped secure and protect valuable District records and saved space by allowing staff to scan and destroy paper copies. Going forward, Laserfiche will be critical to the District’s management and compliance with its document retention policy.
“Laserfiche has become an absolutely essential part of our efficient operations here at the Tahoe City Public Utility District. Having the support of a trusted partner like ECS Imaging to help us continue to leverage our use of this critically important system is really comforting”, said Sean.
“ECS Imaging has been an absolutely great partner. Their dedication to customer support is unparalleled and greatly appreciated. They provide timely, responsive help and have made every effort to ensure that all of our projects and requests are completed to our full satisfaction. I really can’t recommend ECS highly enough”, he said.