The Component Model and Going Beyond eFiling

By: Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft, Inc.

IMG_1827001002 (002)The Court Technology Conference in Salt Lake City last month went far beyond all of our expectations. We were kept busy networking with court staff members, doing live demos and sharing our experiences. Thanks for stopping by our booth and attending our two major presentations.

The Component Model in Action

Jenny Bunch talked about how our methodology of technology design fits right in with the National Center for State Courts promotion of a new interoperability model for court technology vendors. NCSC wants vendors to design products as components so that a court can take advantage of the best offerings of one vendor and integrate them with those of another. We discovered early on that building large, monolithic applications makes it difficult for courts to adopt newer technology as it too often requires removing core systems just to acquire bits of new functionality. With the component model, courts can add new functionality easier. As a vendor, we can accelerate innovations because we are focusing on one component at a time.

We continue to develop future projects which offer high levels of component design. These projects include smaller sets of functionality so courts can adopt individual pieces rather than having to purchase wholesale applications that don’t integrate well with other systems.

Among the examples of courts following this idea are those in Michigan, Tennessee and California which are using new JusticeTech components integrated with an existing system. In fact, in each of these cases, we took the lead in the integration project. See our case study library to read about courts implementing JusticeTech technology to streamline court operations.

Going Beyond eFiling

Does this sound familiar? Your court has an eFiling system but clerks are still printing and routing paper around the court and spending hours or days re-keying information into a case management system that could have and should have so easily and automatically entered the needed information from the eFiled document into the CMS. Brad Smith’s presentation showed how the electronic workflow is the missing piece of the puzzle that routes documents around the court automatically, as well as sharing documents with other agencies. Courts with a decentralized judiciary are attaining a digital workflow all the way to the courtroom without the expense of replacing their existing CMS because integration is built into the technology.

Brad also discussed how any project to automate the court must involve all stakeholders because the system will touch the clerks, judges, local bar, prosecutors, the sheriff and related state agencies.

Read more reasons why eFiling alone is not enough.

The Best of Brew: A Packed House

IMG_1873001002You know it’s been a terrific conference when the afterhours reception had to be extended to allow show attendees to continue networking and sharing experiences with each other. Or maybe it was the brew?

What was your most important take-away from the CTC conference?

See You in Salt Lake City

We’re looking forward to the Court Technology Conference in Salt Lake City September 12-14. Events such as this give us an opportunity to meet and greet customers and potential customers. We’re always happy to talk about JusticeTech and the ways its solutions can make courtrooms run more efficiently. Stop by our booth #410 for a quick chat.138_CTC

In addition, we’ll be presenting at two different sessions during the conference.

Join us on Wednesday morning for a discussion of The Component Model in Action. From its very beginning, ImageSoft chose the component model as the best approach for courts. Our increasing number of statewide partnerships tells us this is the right decision. We will share four reasons why courts are adopting the Component Model as their strategy. We’d like to hear your feedback on this trend.

Then on Thursday morning, we’ll discuss what happens when courts realize it is time for Going Beyond eFiling. Many courts have implemented an eFiling system but haven’t achieved a true digital workflow throughout the court. Paper handling and manual keying still drive too many court processes with attendant waste and expense. Join us for this strategy session to hear how prominent courts with a decentralized judiciary are attaining a digital workflow all the way to the courtroom without the expense of replacing their CMSs.

ImageSoft is an industry leader in transforming courts into digital environments. Our JusticeTech technology solution for courts enables eFiling, electronic case files, public access to documents, Pro Per/Pro Se eFilings and many other benefits.

See you in Utah.

Background Buzz (More reflections from NACM)

73_background buzz

Despite the undisputed convenience and lower cost of online and virtual conferences, there will always be hard to replicate benefits from live conferences. Good conferences, in addition to the material presented, include networking and information exchanges that occur outside of and ancillary to the formal sessions. Moreover, I have found that most court conferences (and all the good ones) have a “buzz.”

I think the buzz from last fall’s Court Technology Conference and this winter’s NACM Mid-Year Conference have an interesting sub-theme of a major change in the wind.

Ever since the onset of the tsunami that now goes by name of “The Great Recession,” the background buzz at court technology conferences has been centered around catastrophically shrinking budgets and the dilemma of the need to invest in technology to meet the budget crisis, with no money to invest. My sense, from this year’s conferences, is that, while courts aren’t out of the budgetary woods yet (and probably will never be entirely), the focus of the conversation has changed. There’s still lots of discussion about cost benefits and how to best finance Information Technology infrastructure, but the attitude is, it’s happening and it’s going to continue to happen at an ever-increasing rate. So the buzz has now morphed to, “What does that mean? What’s going to happen? How do we ride this tiger and not become lunch?”

A not-so-secret fact of life for IT folks for the past few decades has been that one major (unacknowledged) strategy of a lot senior executives and judges regarding technology planning was to make certain that actual implementation would occur sometime AFTER their own retirement. In many ways, The Great Recession played right into that strategy.

No more. Most of the managers at CTC and NACM realize the change is going to occur on THEIR watch, and indeed is already under way.

In some ways, it feels like waking up from a long dream. True, some courts have pressed forward during the hard times. Still, many others have had to either postpone or greatly reduce their efforts, creating a huge, pent-up backlog of projects. Justice system pressures that were stressing court IT infrastructure five years ago are now past critical.

One result is that some questions from five years ago are simply not relevant today. For example, how tightly should document management be integrated with the Case Management System?

Courts are increasingly finding that CMS systems that provide “bolt-on” document management that allows documents to be stored with the case, as opposed to full-featured ECM, seriously limit the flexibility, leverage, systems integration and scalability required in today’s – and tomorrow’s – integrated justice system environment.

Likewise, is it better to start with ECM implementation first, then move to e-filing or vice-versa? Today, it’s pretty widely understood that courts need both; they need them universally and they need them yesterday. Attempts to implement ECM without e-filing run head-first into painful tradeoffs and limitations. Attempts to implement e-filing absent tight integration into a robust ECM with court-centric configurable workflow feel like building an airport on an island with no bridges to the mainland: passengers arrive; but they have nowhere to go.

So the talk seems to be turning to emerging Best Practices. Some of them include paper on demand, make e-filing mandatory, plan for and implement configurable workflow with your first (not last) implementation phase, and get in front of legislative and rule changes through ongoing and committed efforts across the justice system.

My guess is that the pace and penetration of ECM implementation in courts will continue to accelerate. The reason for the “What does it mean?” buzz is that people are realizing that, however implementation happens, it’s either occurred, occurring, or about to occur, and the planning for court life in the new IT paradigm, the vanguard of which is now ECM, is far from complete.

Exciting times.