Technology improves access to municipal information in Kansas
When the Wichita, Kan., five-year copier contract came up for renewal, city officials used the event as an opportunity to research the current state of office technology. They wanted to determine what could be done to make municipal operations more efficient.
Administrators identified three opportunities that could be exploited by leveraging new scanning technology available with copiers. They could reduce city employees’ dependence on paper, make more information accessible to the public and decrease the space required for paper storage.
While scanning technology had previously been available to city employees, there had been only one scanning station per department or division. This setup often resulted in long lag times, a disruption in workflow and a decrease in worker productivity.
An avalanche of paper documents sometimes disrupted the workflow across city offices. If the scanning function were made available on Wichita’s fleet of multifunction peripheral devices (MFPs), that technology fix could help address the paper bottleneck. City officials opted for the scanning solution, but only if two areas could be addressed: ease of use and the ability to connect directly to other workflow technology investments Wichita had already made.
“We are a fast-paced organization and we needed more access to scanning to e-mail, into Laserfiche, and to our fax system,” says Melinda Walker, Wichita’s purchasing manager. “We also needed to ensure that copying and scanning costs were appropriately allocated to organizational cost accounting codes for accurate cost recovery.” Walker adds that it was important to city agencies that the interface be easy to use and integrate well into Wichita’s overall IT strategy.
Walker explains, “We were also looking for a way to give the public better access to public records and make it more convenient for them. This would reduce the number of inbound calls and visits to city offices.”
The city determined Nuance eCopy could meet its requirements. Of the 125 MFPs the city acquired, 95 feature Nuance eCopy ShareScan. According to Walker, “all of our departments and just about all levels of employees—clerical staff, managers, engineers, and other professional staff—are using Nuance eCopy ShareScan, and most departments are using Nuance eCopy Desktop.” Walker says the scanning systems seamlessly connect to many of the basic tools that city staffers use to conduct business. “It not only enhances our investments in those systems, but makes everyone much more efficient.”
All of the city’s 22 departments are now using Nuance eCopy. With the new setup, the city has transformed many of its processes to modern, digital workflows. For example, when the Purchasing Department receives vendor bids and contract documents, the staff scans them directly to the appropriate contract folder in Laserfiche, giving all departments access. “The Controller’s office has been a real success story,” Walker adds. “They have been able to eliminate eight to 10 file cabinets by moving invoicing and payment documentation from paper to digital form.”
The Wichita Police Department has placed all traffic accident reports online, providing easy access for the public and for insurance companies. Prior to placing these online, six to eight citizens came to the front counter of the Police Records Division each day to request copies of accident reports, and it could take a clerk as much as 20 minutes to process each request. Now, accident reports are publicly accessible online, saving 50 to 60 staff hours per month.
“Ease of use and reliability were high on our criteria for an integrated scanning solution, and Nuance eCopy fits the bill on both accounts,” Walker says. She adds that it was also important for Wichita to select a vendor who could demonstrate a good working relationship with the technology provider. “Between our office equipment dealer and Nuance eCopy, our training and implementation was fast and efficient, and the close relationship between the two gives us confidence that any issues that might arise in the future will be resolved quickly.”