It does not seem that longago that I was designingcreative businessforms, both snap a parts andcontinuous as the computerage was emerging. Thiscreativity included addingplies to increaseefficiencies. All kinds ofcreative ideas grew theseforms into businessprocesses throughout theorganizations, I worked with.
As technology continuedthe multi-part businessforms process went intodecline. As a professionalbusiness consultant Iwondered how and whereI would transform myselfto stay relevant andcontinue to add value tothe organizations that Iwould work with.
Recently I had read that the Department ofDefense and other government agencies aremoving into Enterprise Content Management or(ECM). Many of the reasons involve security,risk management and compliance.
What I did not know at the time of this research is that these newadvanced systems include the intelligence to automate the flow ofelectronic forms processing automatically and capture and indexinformation. These systems integrate with all the technologies currently inplace.
The City of Palm Beach Gardens, FL spans56.16 square miles, making it the largestland area in Palm Beach County. The Cityimplemented Laserfiche in 2008 fordocument management. After the Cityupgraded to Laserfiche Rio, it has began toautomate its many business processes withLaserfiche Workflow.
Every time one of our 600 city employeestravels on business, a travel authorizationform must be submitted to the Financedepartment for approval. Once that employeehas returned, a travel expense report mustalso be filled out and approved. In addition,either of these documents could contain acheck request for reimbursement.
CaptureThe forms involved in the travel processesare available on the City of Palm BeachGardens’ intranet page for employees todownload and print. The employee fills outthe form with the help of his supervisorand provides supplemental information,such as airline confirmation, hotelregistration and check request documentsto go along with the reimbursementrequest.The forms and all supplementaldocuments are scanned onto a networkdrive with one of the many multi-functionprinters distributed throughout the city.Laserfiche Import Agent monitors thenetwork shared folder for any newdocuments and automatically importsthem into the “Travel – _Process – Inbox”folder in Laserfiche.One set of workflows processes boththe travel authorization and travelexpense reimbursement documents.
Approval by the travel coordinatorLaserfiche Workflow monitors the travelinbox folder for incoming travel requestdocuments. When it finds a new document,Laserfiche Workflow sends an email to thetravel coordinator letting her know that anew travel document has been submittedfor review.The travel coordinator reviews thedocument. If there is a check requestincluded as part of the document, shemoves it to the front of that document. Shealso applies and populates the “Finance –Travel” templateWhen the travel coordinator is finished withher review, she changes the TravelCoordinator Approval status to either“Approved” or “Disapproved.” This actioninvokes a second workflow. The next stagein the process is approval by the financecoordinator. Both the travel coordinator andfinance coordinator must approve all traveldocuments
Approval by the finance coordinatorIf the travel coordinator approves the traveldocumentation, Laserfiche Workflow:Routes the documents to the “Pending” folder.Sends an email to the finance coordinator notifyinghim of a new travel authorization or expense reportfor review.Checks to see if the travel document contains a lastminute check request (the value of the CheckRequest Fields is set to “ASAP”). If there isone, accounts payable is alerted via email of a lastminute check to be cut.Renames the travel document to the accountspayable naming standard and appends “PendingFinance Administrator Approval” to the end of thename.Notifies the finance administrator of a new request orauthorization for review.Once the finance administrator reviews the travelrequest, he changes the value of the FinanceAdministrator Approval Status field to either“Approved” or “Disapproved” and inserts commentsinto the template. The finance administrator’s actionlaunches the third workflow.If the travel coordinator approves the document butthe finance coordinator does not, the document isthen sent back to the travel coordinator withcomments for a second review.
Final travel document processingBefore checking if the travel request was approved or disapproved, LaserficheWorkflow checks to see if the travel coordinator and finance administrator left anycomments. If comments are found, they are copied and inserted into a WorkflowApproval 1 Comments field. Since security settings prevent users in other departmentsfrom viewing any of the fields that have to do with the travel coordinator or financeadministrator’s approval actions, the Workflow Approval 1 Comments field provides away for requestors to see why their request was approved or disapproved.
Next, Laserfiche Workflow checks tosee if the finance administratorapproved or disapproved the travelrequest. If the request has beendisapproved:The document is renamed and sentback to the Inbox folder.If there was an ASAP check requestattached to the authorization form, theaccounts payable department isemailed that the check request was notapproved.The Travel Coordinator Approval field isreset and the Workflow Prior Denial fieldis added and populated.If the request has been approved by thefinance administrator, LaserficheWorkflow:Renames the document based on theTravel Department’s file namingstandards and moves it to the Travelfolder of the department that initiatedthe request.
If the travel document contains a check request, Laserfiche Workflow:· Checks if there is a check request included with the authorization form bylooking at the template field. If that is the case, Laserfiche Workflow creates anew placeholder document inside the “Accounts PayableProcessInbox” folder,where the check request will be moved.· Moves the check request page from the current document to the newlycreated placeholder document.· Creates a link between the check request and travel documents.· Emails the accounts payable department that the travel request has beenapproved. The AP coordinator will then apply the “Finance – Check Request”template which invokes a separate set of check request approval workflows.· If the check request is for petty cash, Laserfiche Workflow emails the accountsreceivable department.· Emails the travel coordinator that the travel document has been approved.-
Implementing Laserfiche at the City of Palm BeachGardens has resulted in the following benefits: Only one copy of documents is now stored in Laserfiche,making them easily accessible by multiple people at thesame time. Robust security settings allow only authorized personnelto perform certain actions on documents, such as updateor enter new metadata. The travel expense authorization workflows can easilybe used as models for automating various otherprocesses throughout the city.