Reducing the paper trail
A few years ago, the Palm Beach County, Fla., Engineering Department began reducing its paper records by scanning and saving them as digital files. Department officials soon realized they needed records management software that would track the electronic records and improve retrieval and workflow. The county envisioned a cross-referencing and indexing system that would locate documents in seconds.
In March, the Engineering Department installed a records management system by Hastings, Minn.-based SmeadSoft that integrates paper and digital files, tracks revisions, controls access and simplifies retrieval. The program, which is being rolled out to all engineering department employees, organizes paper and digital files by project, so each county construction projects’ bid documents, contracts, plans, invoices and other records can be found together. The software also manages workflow and will notify the appropriate person if another division needs to submit information about a project. Managers can access all the projects to monitor their progress or create status reports.
Any paper records that must be retained because of legal or other reasons are scanned into the system, so users can view the files without handling the hard copies. The paper records are filed with colored bar code labels that make them easy to find in storage, and hand-held bar code scanners are used to track who checks out the files and when they are returned. “We now have a history of each file — who had it, for how long, and if and when it was returned — and better control of files for regulatory compliance,” says Palm Beach County Engineering Department Systems Administrator Nicholas Gazzillo. “The system even lets us know when a file can be destroyed.”
Soon, the records management system will be available as a Web-based program, and other county departments will begin using it. The online system also will make county records publicly accessible. “The different security levels [in the system] for viewing and changing documents ensures the privacy and integrity of our files,” Gazzillo says. “It’s all about better document tracking, control and management.”
Project: Records management
Jurisdiction: Palm Beach County, Fla.
Agency: Engineering Department
Vendor: Hastings, Minn.-based Smead Software
Date completed: March 2009