City of Carlsbad, CA
From LEGOLAND to LASERFICHE: Putting the Pieces Together
The City of Carlsbad is located in the County of San Diego about 35 miles north of downtown San Diego, has a population of just over 115,000 residents, and is home to the LEGOLAND theme park.
The City was facing two big challenges with their previous document management system. It was not user friendly and proved difficult for staff and the public to search for and find records. This caused a lot of frustration among city staff and the public, which resulted in a high volume of support requests for the City Clerk department and Records division. Another significant challenge with the existing system was a lack of technical support and maintenance for the product from the multiple vendors that comprised the various components of the system.
In 2019 the City started a pilot project in the Police Department by enlisting the services of ECS Imaging to implement a new Laserfiche Avante system and digitizing over 75,000 paper police reports. The city decided to upgrade the pilot Laserfiche system to Rio as an enterprise content management platform city wide to replace the existing records management system, HP Records Manager (HPRM).
The conversion from HPRM to Laserfiche included the migration of approximately 500,000 records. During the migration process, the Records division took the opportunity to analyze record types and metadata, make modifications to improve usability, and clean up inconsistent record naming conventions. According to Pat Downie, Records Management Program Manager, City staff that had previously utilized Laserfiche at other local government agencies highly recommended the change because Laserfiche is a much more user-friendly system. Buy-in throughout the City was quickly accomplished through:
- Early city-wide collaboration: The project team, led by Rachel Muller, met with key department super users and stakeholders at the beginning of the project to gather requirements and get buy-in. These meetings included the Records Management division, IT and other departments throughout the city. During these meetings, lessons learned from the HPRM implementation were discussed as well as challenges with the existing system. This information was incorporated into the project and configuration plans.
- User Acceptance Testing (UAT): After the records migration from HP Records Manager and configuration of Laserfiche, the project team initiated hands-on user acceptance testing in a test environment with super users from all departments in the city to get feedback on potential issues and buy-in on the system configuration.
- Training: The Records division provided department specific training based on business function and how end users need to search for records.
The City is using a Laserfiche Rio system with over 200 Full Users, Forms Professional, Forms Portal, Unlimited Public Portal, Quick Fields Agent, Quick Fields Complete, Import Agent, SDK, and Laserfiche Integration with DocuSign. They have two Laserfiche environments setup for testing and production. The system is used city-wide including: City Clerk and Records division, Building, Public Works, Police, Fire, Finance, IT, Community Development, Parks and Recreation, Library and Cultural Arts (plus general access to public records).
One of the key business needs identified during the project was to make public records easily accessible to the public. The design of the Laserfiche public WebLink portal was a high priority to ensure a truly improved user experience when conducting public record searches. This was accomplished by creating custom search pages on the Public WebLink form based on record type. The Records division also partnered with the internal GIS division to integrate the Laserfiche public WebLink client with an ArcGIS map application. The integration uses metadata including street name, address, and street segment ID to link public records in Laserfiche to physical locations on an ArcGIS map. Public users and city staff can use the map to look up an address or street segment and search for associated public records for that location in Laserfiche.
“Digitizing paper records has saved the city money in offsite storage costs and onsite storage space”, said Pat. “The City was able to reduce physical storage from 52 cabinets to 22 cabinets containing historic Mylar drawings and plans for Community Development and Capital Improvement projects at the city. By reducing the need for storage of paper records, the city reduced off site storage costs and created more office space for employees”.
Having records digitized also provides the city the ability to backup city documents. Previously, if physical records were lost or destroyed, there was no ability to recover them. In addition to financial savings, digitizing records and workflow automation has provided significant time savings as well. So far, the city has implemented several automated workflow processes including:
- Purchase Order (PO) approval management
- Standard file name by record type automation
- Shortcut and folder creation automation
- Batch import by record type
- In progress: City Council Agenda management
Pat provided the following lessons learned by the City as they transitioned from their previous system to Laserfiche:
- Make sure you have a clear understanding of how user licenses work with the different end user clients (web client vs. Weblink) in order to set end user expectations and provide appropriate training.
- Include super users in all departments at the beginning of the project to understand business requirements and get early buy-in from end users.
- If you are migrating from an existing system, take your time to plan the folder, template and metadata field structure. Take the opportunity to make improvements: add new fields that would be helpful and remove fields that are not used.
- Take inventory of existing records to plan your approach for digitization and record migration, if applicable.
- Make a plan that includes system implementation and beyond – how the ongoing process will be to support daily operations for creating new records.
- Include super users in user acceptance testing and provide department specific training.
Pat also noted that, “future plans for the City include adding additional user licenses, implementing new workflows and forms for City Council Agenda management, retention management and other automation opportunities.”