Simplifying Contract Administration with Laserfiche Workflow
Contra Costa County Public Works is located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area and is home to over 1 million residents. Public Works maintains 660 miles of roads, 79 miles of creeks and channels, and 93 County buildings.
Before Laserfiche, Public Works had a lot of paper-based, repetitive business processes including Contract Administration, Accounts Payable, and Application Review. There was no document retention policy in place which meant: keep everything forever. Additionally, the Auditor-Controller requires a wet signatures on all contracts.
In 2012, the Department’s microfilm viewer died. Spurred into action by an unrepairable microfilm viewer, the Department initiated a Laserfiche Pilot system that included 3 Laserfiche licenses. The Microfilm slides were then scanned and imported into Laserfiche. ECS provided professional services to convert documents from the departments ‘home-grown’ legacy system into Laserfiche. Simple workflows were created to emulate the legacy system. The Department also purchased Weblink to provide read-only access to all staff.
When Public Works issued an RFP to build-out the repository and implement Workflow, ECS was selected. A Needs Assessment was conducted with every Public Works division to identify Record Types and Retention. Required metadata fields were identified in order to build out document templates for each document type. Dynamic fields were used to look up lists from other systems/databases. ECS built a workflow for document processing that when the user chooses a template and enters metadata, a workflow kicks in. The workflow calculates the “Disposition Date” per the Retention Policy, renames the document and routes it to the correct folder (workflow creates the folder if it does not already exist). This process maintains uniformity in folder structure and naming convention and guarantees that all entries have a retention date assigned. Documents are scheduled for OCR after hours (OCR is the process that extracts text from the document for full-text searching of the document contents).
By 2016, Public Works had increased the number of users to 200 and initiated the use of additional Laserfiche modules including Forms Professional, Forms Portal, Quick Fields Classify, Quick Fields Agent, Import Agent, and the Laserfiche SDK. Currently, Public Works maintains 275,000 documents in the system totaling 1.5 TB.
ECS built an integration for Public Works with their custom Oracle application that checks the status of the Vendor’s insurance. The Insurance Expiration Date is a value queried from Laserfiche metadata. Users can pull up the document(s) and view them in Weblink.
Another integration involves a GIS-based document search. A user selects a county asset using a map interface and links to related Laserfiche content is then displayed. The hyperlink opens a Weblink page with the results. If there is only one result it displays it; if more than one then a list of results is shown. Many GIS layers have relationships with Laserfiche documents. These links are searches that utilize metadata content. They are not paths to specific folder locations nor are they document IDs; if the document is moved to another location it will still be valid.
Future plans for Public Works include developing an automated Contract Routing process using Forms and Workflow. Currently, the process is paper-based, repetitive, and time consuming. The documents required vary greatly and many approvals are required.
Some of the key lessons learned by Public Works include:
- Use “Dynamic Fields” on key metadata
- Fine Tuning is OK! Template, Workflow, Record Types etc.
- Devote adequate resources for scanning, uploading
- Clear, centrally-controlled folder structure makes ‘casual searching’ easy
- ECS Professional Services
Barry Schamach, Database Administrator for the Public Works Department, presented their use case at the ECS Conference, Transform 2019 on September 19, 2019 in San Ramon and offered up their 5 best tips and tricks:
- Listen to ECS, they are the Pros – Is it safe to upgrade, best practices, and hardware configuration
- Don’t over Metadata – 5 fields is usually enough
- Be consistent across templates – Vendor Name in “Contracts” is the same as the Vendor Name in “Invoices”
- Dedicate appropriate resources – sharp people, make sure they have the time to spend on Laserfiche
- Control folder structure – create new folders ONLY via Workflow
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Download Success Story: ECS Contra Costa County Public Works 2019