Laserfiche Paper-less Solution For Community Action Agencies
Our paperless solution for Community Action Agencies is built upon Laserfiche Enterprise Content Management system, which is built upon Microsoft SQL. Your case management software, whether it be empowOR, THO, CAP60, or any other product, is typically built on Microsoft SQL also.
Having a powerful Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system as the foundation is the key to a successful long-term paperless solution for CAP Agencies.
It seems there should be a standard, out-of-the-box software that handles the approval process for energy assistance and calculates eligibility. But we have found that the process is different in each State and within the State; it seems each agency handles the approval process differently, as well.
This is why our paperless solution uses Laserfiche as the foundation, and we custom-build workflows and forms for each agency to meet their specific needs. Each agency can then tweak their processes and workflow as they need to. Creating these customize systems is not a problem for us because we have done this for so many organizations. We don’t have to start from scratch each time.
Just as having a powerful workflow engine is necessary, having a flexible and powerful electronic forms capability becomes necessary as one progresses in their digital journey (often called digital transformation model). People often buy an application to fit current, specific needs, but soon outgrow it because they could not see what the future held for them and what capabilities the product needed to meet the future needs. If you use our paperless solution for CAP agencies built upon Laserfiche, it will meet your needs today and into the future. Here is an explanation of the digital transformation model: http://www.hemingwaysolutions.net/services/laserfiche-transformation-model/
If you would like a good overview of Laserfiche, I have a link to a video that you might find helpful. It will explain why it is such a good foundation for a paperless solution for CAP agencies.
The first step many Community Actions take when going paperless is to begin to archive paper documents. They convert their paper documents into an electronic filing cabinet for digital archiving and retrieval. And they begin organizing their documents so that they are easier to manage and secure.
Some organizations scan their documents and store them as PDFs on their network. This seems like a good way to begin the paperless process but, they often run into a road block. When that happens they either live with the limitations or they start looking for a new solution. For more info on this subject, read: www.hemingwaysolutions.net/scanning-and-storing-pdfs-is-a-bad-idea/
Another thing that people try is to store their documents in their line of business application such as CAP60, THO, empowOR, Dynamics, and many more. This seems to work well. You don’t think you need search capability because the document is linked to the record in the application. This is all well and good until someone attaches the documents to the wrong record, your organization decides to move to a new application, or you need advanced features such as workflow and electronic forms. For more info on this subject, read: http://www.hemingwaysolutions.net/is-storing-documents-in-your-client-management-application-a-bad-idea/
For these reasons we recommend that you use Laserfiche to go paperless. It has all the capability to begin the project and for years to come as you look at automating business processes such as energy assistance.
Here is a demonstration of Laserfiche scanning:
Once you have documents scanned into Laserfiche they can be found in seconds. One way to find them is to simply browse to them in Laserfiche just as you would in Windows Explorer. Or you can simply search by entering any word or phrase that may be found on the document or fields associated with the document. For example, you could enter the household number or first and last name.
The application is mailed or delivered to the CAP agency in their area. A staff person at the CAP agency enters the information into the State of Minnesota system called EHEAT. Then the user hits the Laserfiche connector button which scrapes the screen for pertinent information and saves it temporarily. The staff person loads the application form into their scanner and enters the household number. Laserfiche pulls the household number and other key information that was temporarily saved by Laserfiche Connector into the index fields associated with the scanned application form. (Note this capability is done without the State of Minnesota modifying their EHEAT software.)
Here is a sample of the index fields that are associated with the application form. Laserfiche has automatically filled out the household number, program year, address, and applicant name.
A set of index fields are attached to the application folder. These fields house the data that is used by workflow to know where the application is in the approval process and who has worked on the application at each step in the approval process. Here is a sample of this folder template.
As I mentioned before, each agency seems to have a unique process, so the following example is just one way we handle the EA approval process. This is an example of a CAP agency in Minnesota, and we will be covering a portion of the approval process. Note: If you purchase this solution, we will customize it to your specific needs.
First, the applicant fills out an application form that looks like this: (note: for some States, we create an electronic form for this and the client fills it out online)
Next Laserfiche creates a folder for this application and names is appropriately. It then it creates the electronic forms that are needed to approve this applicant and stores them in the folder. These forms are populated with the data that has been collected thus far to save data entry. Here is a sample of an eligibility form.
The folder is then moved to a folder in Laserfiche that is associated with the next step in the approval process. Here is an example folder structure.
As each step in the process is completed by a staff member, they update an index field indicating that they have completed that step in the process. Laserfiche then moves the application to the folder of the next step. (In all cases, there are people verifying that they have all the information, certifying that the income meets requirements, processing payments when income becomes available.)
If users wish, notifications can be setup that will email the user that a new application is ready for them to process. They can access that application right from that email. But, typically having an email for each application is too distracting for most users. They typically work out of a folder in Laserfiche that has all the applications that are ready for them to work on, in priority order.
The Laserfiche workflow handles all denials, missing information, and other exceptions to the approval process. In addition, it watches for time sensitive applications and makes sure that they are processed in the allocated time. If an application is nearing the allocated time, reminders will be sent, and it will, in extreme cases, expedite to the staff supervisor.
The other thing many CAP agencies have us work into the workflow is the ability to notify other departments of needs for other services that were uncovered, such as Weatherization, counseling, and Child Services.
When the application is completed, Laserfiche files the application and all the associated documents, such as the eligibility form, in its final resting place where it can be seen by anyone that has rights to do so.
We also have the ability to update other applications such as CAP60, empowOR, and many others with the information in Laserfiche. That prevents the user from having to do double data entry.
One additional thing we do for some agencies is to create a dashboard for management. It is a tool for CAP managers to help them manage their departments better. It collects data from a Laserfiche workflow, such as Energy Assistance or Weatherization Application approval workflow. It gathers data and populates an Excel spreadsheet.
The Dashboard is very useful for measuring and monitoring the performance of the whole department, or each caseworker, or individual steps in the process. It is helpful for managers to identify bottlenecks in their processes. And when they tweak their processes and workflow, they can monitor the impact.
Another thing it is helpful for is monitoring and adjusting staffing levels. Managers can predict peak workloads and shift staffing to meet those workloads. Caseworkers performance is monitored to help identify issues that may need to be addressed or that may require additional training.
Note: This is just a sample EA application approval process. We will deliver a solution that will be customized to your exact needs.
Save time and resources by combining the information and functionality from your business applications with Laserfiche.
- Laserfiche Connector: Integrate Laserfiche with your software applications such as a state supplied systems, case management systems, or accounting programs with one click using Laserfiche Connector, a code-free integration tool. It doesn’t matter where your software application is hosted; on your servers or in the cloud.
- CAP60: We have developed our own integration for CAP60. We can retrieve data from or push data into CAP60.
- empowOr: We have developed our own integration for CAP60. We can retrieve data from or push data into empowOR. empowOR also uses Laserfiche and our integration to offer powerful electronic forms capability to their clients
- Microsoft Dynamics Accounting: We have integrated Laserfiche and Microsoft Dynamics to reduce data entry.