CommunityLIVE 2017

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

The recent tragedy has the nation thinking about Las Vegas and how a community is brought together. Our thoughts are with the residents and visitors of Las Vegas.

Two weeks ago , we were joined by thousands of OnBase professionals, administrators and business leaders for Hyland’s annual CommunityLIVE conference in Las Vegas. OnBase is a platform that governments and businesses can use to manage their content and bring new efficiencies into their organization. This year was a record year for ImageSoft. We had nearly 70 customers in Las Vegas that were all interested in expanding the use of OnBase either to serve their constituents better or to reduce operational costs to make them more competitive in their industry.

IMG_7033 2CommunityLIVE kicked off with a keynote by author and industry disrupter, Josh Linkner, who shared with us five obsessions of an innovator. Linkner was right on with his “obsessions” and real examples of organizations that solved business problems and challenges with scarce resources. For sure I’m going to download his book and read it.

Several of our customers, including Cleveland Municipal Court, Del TacIMG_7092o, and Philadelphia Gas Works had opportunities to spotlight how using OnBase made a significant impact on how they operated. Even though each one was using OnBase in a very different way, they all shared the benefits of reduced cycle times, reduced missing documents, automation of repetitive tasks and time saved with immediate access to required information. To do this, they all had to integrate OnBase with their core business software.

While it’s no surprise to us, our customers are frequently surprised that the projected benefits and the return on investment are often far too conservative. The reason for this is that using paper requires a lot of kinetic energy that is often overlooked or dismissed in terms of value and the focus is on highly visible areas. Spending 20 minutes locating a missing file may not seem like much, but if across your staff you’re spending 2,000 hours a year locating and refiling documents, that’s another full-time employee.

IMG_7099While we worked hard during the day attending sessions and having strategic sessions with our customers, we did take some time out in the evening to enjoy the sights and sounds of Las Vegas. Every year, we hold a special event for our customers called TNO (The Night Out) and this year we treated our customers to a dinner at the Grand Hotel downtown, a scavenger hunt on Fremont St. and then an impromptu karaoke session to wrap up the event.

Featured this year is OnBase 17, a new version with over 3,000 enhancements and new interfaces that makes OnBase more accessible to more users whether they are in the office or on the go. The changes and updates on OnBase 17 definitely proved to be an incentive for customers to accelerate their upgrade schedules. Hyland Software once again reiterated their shared vision of making OnBase available anytime, anywhere, on any device, in a secure mode. And their sneak peek into the future proved that they are on the right track.

For those that attended, what was your biggest takeaway from the conference?

Give a Mouse a Cookie…

iStock_000008575955LargeMost parents know the story; and every parent knows the principle: “Give a mouse a cookie, and he’s sure to want a glass of milk.”  Never satisfied — get one treat and look to leverage it into more.  My kids excelled at it.

Well, I just came across a great example from none other than ImageSoft’s own President, Scott Bade.  A thread from the LinkedIn group Forum on the Advancement of Court Technology discussed the expanding use of and tremendous cost savings from video arraignment.  The verdict appears unanimous that video arraignment offers increased efficiencies, greater security and vastly greater flexibility.  A very nice treat all around.

As I perused the thread, I came across Scott’s posting, which caused me to think how a glass of milk would be just the thing to enhance that cookie.  Scott wrote,

 “I’m curious for you guys that are doing video arraignments now – how do you handle the document packet creation, signing and markup?

 “I’ll be transparent and tell you why I’m asking: We have many court clients that, like you, have had been doing video arraignment for some time — that problem has been mostly solved. Few are actually recording the proceedings for long-term storage.

“What we’ve seen is that going to video introduces some new problems if all the documents remain in paper form. 1) The paper documents need to be in two places at once because both sides often need to sign; 2) the packet is time-consuming to create and manage; and 3) the judge/magistrate is often marking up the documents prior to signing in order to override or amend it, and this info needs to get into the original document.

“We provide an eArraignment solution intended to solve these three problems:

 1) It uses electronic signing for the judge/magistrate and signature pad signing for the defendant;

2) The packet is automatically created (based on case data) using a wizard and a variable set of templates that can be dealt with collectively (data entered once is propagated to all forms and changes are re-applied during or after the hearing); and

3) The signing judge/magistrate is able to apply permanent markups to any documents during the signing process. Everything stays in electronic form at all times and then at the end of the process, a paper copy can be printed at the jail for the defendant.”

Once again, if anyone needed another example of why courts need to move to paper on demand with workflow, this is a great one.  Video arraignment is just the first of many applications that will reduce the need to transport people to a central location.  Already, some courts are using video connections for things like child custody cases where parties are geographically (and jurisdictionally) far apart.

As time goes by, other technologies will offer improvements that, as a side effect, will only be encumbered if they need to accommodate physical files and documents.

Just like milk is good with a lot of things other than cookies, obviously paper on demand with workflow is good to have around for a lot of different reasons.  More and more, almost all other advances and initiatives, technological or not, are at least improved by, and often only possible with, operational paper on demand.

So, drink that milk and enjoy your cookies.

HELP WANTED: Securing a Champion for Your Court IT Initiative

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I always say that I don’t object to a fight; I just object to a fair fight.  If I have to be in a fight, I want the big kid on my side.

At last June’s ImageSoft Government Summit, several speakers from courts that had gone through successful implementations of Electronic Content Management systems pointed out that in addition to sponsors, court IT projects need a Champion.  And while at first blush it may seem that the sponsors ARE the champions, that simply is not the case.

I think that, by definition, every project has a sponsor.  Someone has to provide the authority, resources, charter and business reason for the project.  Project managers may be many things, but (at least in the court space) they are not entrepreneurs rustling up their own funding and resources for their own business objectives.

However, far too many projects lack champions.  While sometimes there is a senior person who actively initiates and evangelically champions the effort, that is far from always the case.  And while smaller projects may not need a champion per se, large, transformational projects are extremely difficult to successfully execute without one.  In looking at leading reasons for court IT project failures, lack of an effective, committed champion is at or near the top of every list.

The conference speakers noted that, when it comes to champions, a committee really won’t do.  The need is for a very senior, committed individual.  The Champion will be the key person who personally makes the business and political case to the legislature, county commission or other funding authority.   Because courts are (at the federal, state and in most political subdivisions) a separate branch of government, it is absolutely best if the Champion can speak “peer-to-peer” with the legislative authority.  Thus a judge, particularly if he/she is the presiding or chief judge, is the obvious choice for a court.   The keynote speaker at the Government Summit, The Honorable John C. Foster, Chief Judge of Michigan’s 16th Judicial Circuit Court, provides an excellent example.

The involvement of Champion does not obviate or replace the need for the sponsor(s) and/or steering committees.  The Champion does not (at least primarily) bring the resources.  And, if there is at the outset no Champion, one of the first and most important challenges for the sponsors (say, a Steering Committee) should be to recruit one.

Identification and recruitment of an effective champion represents a significant challenge.  Being a champion of a transformational court IT initiative is not a hobby; and the best candidate will arguably be the busiest, hardest-to-schedule person in the organization.

The Sponsors and their staff will, of necessity, have to gain some familiarity with the technical choices.  The Champion, on the other hand, need not be (and usually is not)  particularly technically knowledgeable.

What the Champion DOES have to be is committed.  If there is a Champion who is already evangelical about the initiative, fantastic.  But, for that commitment to be effective, the Champion must be presented with, and have a clear grasp of,  the link between the strategic, existential needs of the court and the technological solution.

Some good ways to cultivate (and later educate) a Champion include

  • Attend conferences with a focus on court IT that have tracks specifically for sponsors and champions (such as The Government Summit; NCSC’s Court Technology Conference.
  • Visit courts that have successfully implemented the technology and arrange for that court’s Champion to speak with your Champion;
  • Arrange information sessions and demos with a vendor or vendors tailored to the Champion.

An effective Champion works both ways.  Naturally,  the Champion advocates for and defends the initiative both internally and externally.  Likewise, the Champion holds the sponsors, the project team, the court managers and staff, and the vendor accountable.

For IT projects to have a reasonable chance of success, it pays to get the big kid on your side.

What the Heck IS ECM?

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In elementary school, my daughter had to write about our family. She had little trouble explaining what her mom did: “My Mom is a Legal Secretary.” I presented a bit more of a problem, to say the least. She wrote, “I’m not sure what my Dad does, but he works with computers. He used to be a lawyer.”

Ah, well. Over the years, I have found that I can do little to improve on that explanation.

Nowadays, when I am asked what I do, I tell people (including my daughter, who now works in courts herself) that I write, speak and consult regarding Electronic Content Management (ECM) for courts and justice agencies. People may nod politely, but I always suspect they are thinking, “What the heck IS ECM, for crying out loud?”

Attempts at more detailed explanations usually result in a response along the lines of, “Oh, I get it — you mean ‘imaging’.” Sigh. And, I used to be a lawyer, too.

I have tried countless ways to explain what ECM is. In June I attended the ImageSoft Government Summit, a conference designed to help court and other government professionals share experiences and tips for planning, financing, implementing, deploying and managing ECM systems . Unable to attend all the sessions, I recently listened to a recorded session presented by Colleen Alber, a Product Evangelist with Hyland Software , who spoke on “The Skinny on OnBase.” OnBase is Hyland’s industry-leading ECM suite of products. Not surprisingly, Colleen had no problem explaining what ECM is. Although Colleen’s talk focused on new developments, by way of context, she gave the most succinct yet comprehensive description of ECM that I can remember hearing.

She explained that Hyland divides ECM into six Building Blocks:

1. Capture:

  • The ability to capture any file type from any physical location and automatically classify the documents.

2. Process:

  • Automate structured processes (workflow);
  • Consolidate unstructured information; and
  • Facilitate case management;

3. Access:

  • Provide access to documents and data quickly and easily, to everyone who needs and is entitled to access, easily, from anywhere, any time.

4. Integrate:

  • Seamless integration of documents and data with critical business applications, such as case management, docketing, office productivity (e.g., word processing, spread sheets, etc.), court recording, etc., with limited or no additional data entry.

5. Measure:

  • The ability to monitor and report on the information and activity within the ECM system, without involving IT or database administrators.

6. Store:

  • • Manage the security of the documents and their timely destruction according to court retention policy.My guess is that many, if not most, people who have not researched or had hands-on experience with ECM assume it involves only capture (and probably only the scanning portion of that) and storage (and probably only the elimination of paper aspect of that).So the next time someone who you’d like to have support your ECM initiative asks, “What the heck is ECM?”, don’t just say, “It lets us image our documents.” Instead, try something like, “It allows us to:
    1. Receive
    2. Use
    3. And provide and control access to documents
    4. While reducing or eliminating duplicate data entry across our systems
    5. All of which we can monitor for quality and productivity
    6. While keeping the documents secure and automatically purging them in a timely manner
      1. Capture
      2. Process
      3. Access
      4. Integrate
      5. Measure
      6. Store

    If my daughter ever asks again, I’m ready, thanks to Colleen.