The Year in Review: Revolutionizing How Courts Adopt New Technologies

By Dave Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer, ImageSoft

goodbye-2017-welcome-2018-1024x5761_0ImageSoft enjoyed a banner year in 2017, growing our team by more than 20% and breaking all kinds of company records for new bookings, solutions implemented and delivery efficiency. Yet what excites us most is the way we’ve revolutionized how courts adopt new technologies. We’ve broken down long-standing barriers that have kept courts chained to monolithic systems, stifled in their efforts to modernize. Let me share a few highlights illustrating how ImageSoft is pioneering the Component Model in thought, word, and deed.

The Component Model in Thought

Court technology experts at organizations such as the National Center for State Courts, the National Association of Court Managers and the Conference of State Court Administrators all agree that the future of justice technology centers on the Component Model. Courts have traditionally been tied to a single technology vendor, resigning themselves to only those applications provided by that one vendor, or forced to absorb the high risk and financial outlay of attempting custom integrations with a new vendor’s products. ImageSoft, a 20-year veteran systems integrator, is changing all that. In September, we delivered a standing-room-only presentation on the Component Model at the Court Technology Conference in Salt Lake City, demonstrating how a best-of-breed approach allows courts to purchase solutions from a variety of vendors and make them work together seamlessly.

The key to this method rests in standardization of interfaces between components. Here again, ImageSoft has taken a leadership role by serving on the OASIS Legal XML Electronic Court Filing (ECF) Technical Committee, defining the ECF standards which have become a requirement for most new eFiling system procurements nationwide.

We also transformed our June customer event from our former justice-focused theme to a broader-based showcase of a variety of technologies. The shift was designed to let our court customers see how corporate and other governmental entities use OnBase by Hyland to facilitate automated workflow and document management. Many valuable lessons were learned by bringing our diverse clientele together under one roof to explore the possibilities. We invite you to join us for our next customer event, Velocity, February 27-28, 2018, in Novi, Michigan.

The Component Model in Word

Courts pursuing modernization face many challenges surrounding defining the scope and requirements for their initiatives. A language barrier creates confusion between court personnel and solution providers. Some vendors lack sufficient understanding of court processes, and many court staff cannot comprehend the technical jargon used by vendors. The result is that solutions delivered often fail to satisfy the original intent of the project sponsors.

Early in 2017, ImageSoft instituted a new approach to delivering justice solutions, blending the best aspects of waterfall and agile project management methodologies. On the front end, we employ a collaborative process of gathering requirements, aided by our decades of experience working with courts. Then, rather than writing hundreds of pages of technical specifications, we deliver a solutions requirements document (SRD) composed as user stories, written in the common language of court personnel. Each court staff member–judge, clerk, judicial assistant, prosecutor, administrator–can review their section of the SRD to ensure that their needs are appropriately captured and addressed.

On the back end, we build and deliver the solution iteratively, giving our clients the opportunity to see the system every two to four weeks, to ensure that we’ve stayed true to their goals. This process not only keeps the project on track, but also provides early training sessions to enable court staff to gain more familiarity with the new system well before go-live. They can also see how well the new solution will integrate with their existing CMS—a sneak preview of the Component Model in action.

The Component Model in Deed

We do not, however, merely think and talk about the Component Model. We deliver it. In May, the Michigan State Court Administrative Office contracted with us to bring a statewide eFiling solution to over 240 courts, selecting us in part due to our ability to integrate with various case management systems. Dozens of such CMS products are in use across the Great Lakes State’s 83 counties, and we have taken on the task of interfacing with them while implementing eFiling. We have already succeeded with four pilot courts, which utilize a mix of big-name vendor CMS products and locally-developed systems.

We also brought the Component Model to life at Cleveland Municipal Court, one of the nation’s largest, where we coupled the superior document management capabilities of OnBase with the court’s existing commercial off-the-shelf CMS. A paperless court since November, Cleveland Municipal’s documents are now stored and routed electronically to improve security, efficiency and accessibility.

Looking Ahead

As the justice technology community continues to extol the benefits of the Component Model in thought and word, ImageSoft will continue to deliver it in deed. Already for 2018, we have numerous projects in the works for state agencies and large municipalities seeking to modernize their court systems using a best-of-breed strategy. We look forward to leading the charge, helping courts nationwide ease their way into 21st century innovation, one component at a time.

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