Recently I had the pleasure of visiting a couple of courts that have been working with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) for several years. It is always interesting and informative to see how any new system, and particularly one that involves major paradigm shifts, is working after the “shakedown” phase has passed and the bloom is off the rose, so to speak.
(Side observation: While some courts embarking on major systems changes document the “before” state, I don’t know of any that actually record interviews with staff, judges, managers, attorneys, and other court users or who film operations using the existing systems before implementation. As one who has seen both the “before” and the “after”, I believe it would be a compelling documentary. )
In Ottawa County, Michigan the court has been using ECM with eSignature and Workflow for several years. Many of the staff have never known anything but the new system. District Court Civil Clerk Laura Catalino is one who was there “before the flood”, back in the pre-ECM days.
During my visit, Laura asked me what I would like to know from her. I told her that I’d like her perspective on how the system has changed the nature of District Court delivery of service.
Her first response was to gesture toward her workspace, open her arms wide and exclaim, “Well, for starters, LOOK at my desk”. I did. In fact, I took a picture.
What DON’T you see here?
Laura began reeling off points so fast that I gave up trying to get them all, losing count after the first four or five. I pleaded early stage senioritis and asked her if she would send me an email listing them. She did; and in my considered opinion, there is no chance that I could improve on exactly how she puts it. So below, I share with you what she wrote:
As promised, here is a short outline of the many ways in which ECM and workflow have improved my job!!!
1. No paper: My desk is empty of papers/files, etc.
2. No more lost files: Papers are not lost. Misfilings can be found electronically!!!
3. Easy to work share: Staff from three different geographic locations are able to help one another without having to physically travel from one location to another.
Staff member at all three court locations have access to one another’s workflow and can lend a hand when someone is sick, on vacation, or if one location is a falling behind and another is slow. When there is a question, staff can look directly at what has been filed, even from another site, which cuts down on having to transfer callers with questions.
4. Customer service: Workflow has made it possible for us to find files and information for customers without having to leave our desks. We can help them directly by looking up the information in [the ECM system], whether they are present or on the phone, and the information is accurate and up-to-date.
5. Staff morale: The willingness of staff to help other teams. (i.e. teams = civil, criminal, traffic) has greatly improved.
6. Emailing We are now able to email other courts, attorneys, court officers, process servers, etc.
7. My personal favorite – no need for a typewriter!!!!
Thanks Laura! There’s no better testament to the benefits of ECM and workflow, than from one who has experienced them firsthand.