Connect Your Maps and Your Process

By: Terry Fischer

You manage and map a big infrastructure that is constantly changing. But what happens when your Geographic Information System (GIS) applications don't tell the whole story? Think of all of the information maintained in file cabinets: contracts in accounting, manuals, policies and procedures, etc. How would your efficiency change if your GIS application could also retrieve these documents and present them instantly in a digital format?

”Our goal is for personnel to never leave the GIS environment, yet be able to retrieve spatial information, access documents and create work orders.” – Terry Biederman, director of Public Works, Waterford Township, MI.

Sound like a far-fetched goal? It is not when your GIS system is integrated with a world class Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system.  This approach provides instant access to plans, work papers and supporting information all from within your GIS environment. Consequently your team will make more effective decisions while taking less time to do it. You can also go paperless and mobile in this environment if that is a part of your goal.

Wondering how it would work? Check out this new solution sheet to understand how to connect maps, processes and documents for a complete picture of your infrastructure.

Call CASNET if you are interested in exploring how an ECM solution can impact your organization today!

How to go Paperless: Are you Ready to Take the Next Step?

By: Jack Hudson


Moving to a paperless office is not a new concept.  It has been written about for years; organizations have studied it, discussed it, reviewed it in committees, and even made commitments to implement it, but something is holding them back.  CASNET has worked with organizations for decades that have faced the same challenges that you have when trying to move to a paperless environment.

The purpose of this blog is to help you understand how to move forward toward a paperless office and overcome some of your organization’s fear of change. We will also walk through the process of justifying the required investment. 

This proven methodology will take you from the planning stage to the implementation of a successful solution. Once you have determined that moving to a digital information management solution will benefit your organization, the following steps will help you assure that you realize your goal.   

Rule 1:  Connect with a Proven Partner
Do not go into it alone.  Work with a partner that understands both document management and your industry.  When you involve the partner from the planning stage through implementation and support stages, you will decrease the cost and implementation timeline related to the project. You will also  increase the probability of success for the system.


EIM, ECM & Cloud Security

By: Terry Fischer

Making an organizational change is never easy, especially when the change affects someone’s daily process.  One of the paramount concerns at every organization is the security and protection surrounding their documents and data. In addition, the debate between advocates of “on premise systems” and “cloud    based systems” can reach the fevered pitch of a religious or political ideological debate.

What’s unique about Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems, also referred to as Enterprise Information Management (EIM) systems, is the ability to exclusively identify users and groups, where authorized users receive specific access.  Users are granted access-based rights determined by your    organization.  Let’s say that users need access to documents containing a Social Security number, but it is determined they shouldn’t see all or part of that number.  ECM solutions have the capability to hide (redact or encrypt) that data from specific groups of users.  This is an important part of the implementation    process as your organization moves to a paperless environment.  At the end of the day, the paperless office can be more secure than one with paper folders and documents shuffling throughout any organization.  This is true because, while you can lock down the paper with enough effort, you cannot automate recording    who accessed or modified it.

For organizations that choose not to buy their own servers or store their own data, one of the biggest questions/concerns can be “How do we know the Cloud is safe?” 


Connected Solutions Equal Good Decisions
Sustaining Your Public Utility, Part 2– Building Integrated Solutions

By: Terry Fischer

Last time we talked about the challenges of running a public utility and the volume of the paper created and used to run your public utility.  This time we will talk about different time and cost saving solutions.  This responsibility and the considerable fiscal constraints imposed on your operation require you to squeeze your budgets and drive toward increased efficiency.  The fact is that you have invested in solutions to help you do just that.   These utility software systems include:

  • GIS applications
  • Asset management tools
  • Work order systems
  • Accounting systems
  • Customer service systems
  • Utility billing Systems
  • Construction plans, photos and installation schematics
  • Vendor, contract, and purchasing documents
  • Maintenance, service, testing schedules, and reports
  • Asset and inventory records
  • Customer “as billed” records

The problem is that most of these systems are islands of information and none of them help you share the information that they contain easily across departments and functions.  Depending on an employee’s role, they might need to access data held in all of these systems.  To complicate matters, they will likely need to consult this data while working in the field and have to make a costly and time-consuming drive back to the central office to access this information.  They may also know that there is more information that they need, but they may not know where to find it or have a good way to search for it. 


Paperless Plan Review

By: Terry Fischer

Reviewing the plans that drive your local community and economic development is one of the most important and, at times, contentious activities you face. Consider the typical paper-based plan review process and ask yourself does this process sound efficient to you? OK, how about familiar? Typical steps are:

1. Someone has a hot new project for your community. They build out the project on a complex set of electronic drawings with multiple layers of detail in a system with automated revision control and change management. Oh yah and they want to go fast and so do your community leaders.
2. They then print out all 5, 10, 20… pages of the package and make multiple paper copies to submit for plan review.
3. They then hand this mountain of paper to your team for review and approval.
4. You manually red-line the required changes to one of the copies.  Your package, potentially along with those from other departments or areas, are sent back to the requestor in order for them to the make the required changes.
5. The submitter then creates new sets of revised drawings and re-submit multiple paper copies once again.
6. As you review the revised package, are all of the required changes there?  The process is slow and it is easy to overlook omission or changes, particularly those that were not requested.
7. Repeat as many times as it takes…


Five Ways ECM Keeps You Competitive

By: OnBase by Hyland

 It’s not just paper. It’s also the emails, forms, reports and document-based processes that nearly every organization still struggles to control. That’s why an effective use of enterprise content management (ECM) is a difference maker. When you’re one of the few that knows what information you have, where it is and how to use it, you:

1. Improve the Bottom Line and Gain Market Share
By operating more efficiently with more information at users’ fingertips and by outperforming in speed and quality of customer interactions, you ultimately realize a return on investment that gives you the competitive edge.


2. Become More Responsive to Customers
Your customers can find 58,000,000 answers to what time it is in Helsinki in less than .2 seconds. With content all in one place, your organization gives them the same thing when they call with a question or new business – instant, thorough answers. Can your competitors?


Ten Benefits of Going Paperless

By: Dennis Kempner

Converting from paper-based to paperless can be intimidating but with a plan and properly trained staff, the concerns and fears about paperless can easily be overcome. Paperless businesses improve the security of documents, while increasing office efficiency. Here’s a quick breakdown of the benefits that come along with paperless.

1. ROI
Many people think the switch to paperless will cost more, in terms of training, hardware and software than continuing to be paper-based. And, while expenses do exist, the return on investment is enormous. For some businesses, the switch to paperless can pay for itself within a matter of weeks or months.

2. Labor Savings
Paper is extremely time-consuming to work with as it requires a great deal of time and labor to organize and retrieve. On average, office staff spend about one hour per month searching for and replacing files. If this is the case at your company, the move to paperless could pay for itself within a month.

3. Printing Costs
Printing hard copies of business documents requires the purchase of paper, toner, ink, the printers and their maintenance. In most organizations, going paperless can save more than $500 per person per year in these supplies.


Tales of the Planning Department

Are you trapped in a paper-based planning department? As an OnBase by Hyland partner, let us help you escape.

Your Community Development Makeover: 3 Key Technology Tools

By:  Terry Fischer 

The process of creating a community has always fascinated me. I love maps and I love the idea that, with planning, we can create communities that are beautiful to live in, economically sustainable and have the features and amenities that residents enjoy and demand.

To achieve this idea, many community development responsibilities could benefit greatly by leveraging technology. The shortlist of issues include:

1. Roadblocks to a meaningful public process
As you work towards master plans that will serve your community for decades, it requires a great deal of your staff’s time and patience. Part of the challenge is staffing for a meaningful and engaging citizen process. At a time of reduced staffing and pressure to find new sources of jobs, this can stress existing staff.

2. Processes that eat staffs time and annoy constituents
Paper-based processes for issuing permits and licenses as well as the process for reviewing site plans have come under scrutiny. Elected officials see a direct connection between economic development and the ease and speed with which businesses get the necessary approvals to move forward.


The Paperless Office

By: Terry Fischer

We’ve all been in the situation when we’re positive we’ve left an item somewhere, and it isn’t where we left it. We all misplace things, we swear we left it in that exact spot when we return to reclaim it….poof its gone. We then spend the next 15-20 minutes trying to find that item. Perhaps it’s the car keys, the TV remote or our cell phone. In most situations the phrase “Time is money” rings true and regardless of the item it seems to always set our day back. Now look at your day-to-day business processes and activities. How frequently are you shuffling through a pile of papers on a desk, maneuvering through an office full of filing cabinets, or even running from coworker to coworker tracking down a folder? Looking through electronic files in the “Public” disk drive or SharePoint is not much better. In this case, “Time is money” can actually be quantified and the stats are shocking. In most cases there are employees at every level in an organization begging for a “paperless office”.


Document Management for Utilities Part 1 - Information is the Key


Each day, city and county residents rely on your local, publicly-owned utilities to provide them with electricity, water, and sewer infrastructure. Like other types of infrastructure, these are critical pieces to any community’s health and growth.

Public utilities of all sizes face the same significant responsibilities, including:

  • Ongoing maintenance of existing facilities
  • Supporting field workers
  • Customer service
  • Continuity and response to disasters or other events
  • Future infrastructure improvement and expansion
  • Accurate as built documentation that reflects original construction, repairs, and upgrades

Coupled with these challenges is the need to preserve this critical infrastructure for decades while managing a slim staff and containing costs. Getting the most out of each staff hour and planning for volatile moments of energy costs and community growth can disrupt even the best planning.


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