SIRE Brings County-wide Content Management Processes Under One Roof
SIRE takes electronic document management and information collaboration to a new level at Tooele County. As the system expanded throughout the county, it became the central repository for records management in all county government departments.
Diane Burgener is the IT Director at Tooele (pronounced too-WILL-uh) County, Utah. Having worked with the county for 10 years, she has witnessed several dramatic technological advancements to increase efficiencies across the county.
"When I first joined the county, they didn’t use e-mail,” Burgener said. “At the time, the county commissioners didn’t see the need for e-mail – they wanted everyone to pick up a phone and call when they needed to communicate."
Like most county and city governments, certain departments were already using homegrown scanning systems for basic document management. This one-off process created challenges of inconsistency and confusion when collaboration was necessary between departments. Today, the entire county is online and maintained by the IT department.
"We now support all 23 departments in the County including the Justice Courts, the Sheriff’s Department (including satellite offices), taxing offices, engineers, health department, the landfill, bookmobiles, the local airport, and others," she said.
Prior to the consolidation, Tooele found their various departments contracting with several different vendors across the organization. This often led to cumbersome workloads for the IT staff that were required to manage the growing number of systems. The problem was naturally complicated due to the fact that disparate databases did not communicate well with each other. Even more troublesome however was the loss of efficiencies and opportunities.
Tooele needed an enterprise Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) program that provided a standardized system across the entire county.
The county recorder’s office recorded all the legal documents then scanned them in an effort to make them available online. “We wanted to make documents available online. However, they originally had a cumbersome process in place that was very expensive and difficult to support,” she said.
Having chosen a centralized IT system, Tooele County needed an enterprise document management system that could simultaneously accommodate the changing needs of every department while still providing the efficiencies and economies associated with enterprise deployments. Working with limited resources required a sound, well researched decision the first time through. Going through this lengthy selection process has proven to be time well spent.
After a comprehensive evaluation process, Tooele County chose SIRE Technologies to provide the solution.
When used across an entire county, SIRE ECMS provides a common storage, indexing and retrieval "platform" that every department in the county can utilize. It enables users to archive e-mails and scan, store and retrieve their department's documents. However, individual departments can uniquely customize how they use SIRE. For example, each department can set their own permissions and access rights. Each department can individually add modules such as SIRE’s Mug Center for the Public Safety office or Agenda Plus for the Clerk’s office. In addition, each department can integrate with 3rd party applications that may be unique to them. Workflows can electronically link differing departments together that participate in common business processes thereby reducing staff workload and speeding up process completion.
SIRE also provides a new type of collaboration on the county level. Staff with appropriate permissions can "check out" documents that were scanned in other departments as well as automatically route certain documents to a person in another department who needs them. This eliminates the need for the staff to haul paperwork back and forth between departments. In a county the size of Tooele – 6,930 square miles – that is a sizable advantage.
"We needed one place to go to search for anything we wanted to know about,” Burgener said. “SIRE makes that happen. We can quickly access anything from building permits to letters sent to property owners, to tax information. Our goal is to have SIRE serve as the central repository for all electronic documents or files of any kind that need to be brought together from across the county."
… Across the County
The recorder’s office was the first department to use SIRE with the county’s Tax Roll, which is what they call the process where land is recorded, appraised with a value, and then taxed accordingly. The Tax Roll generates the majority of the county’s revenues.
"The rollout across the county is going much faster than we had anticipated; we actually wanted to pace the system’s implementation. But when county officials and staff heard it was available they wanted it right away. They wanted SIRE Workflow™ (to automatically track workflow processes with a graphical representation of the progress); they wanted SIRE COLD™ (an Electronic Report Management module that enables users to view reports simultaneously across the organization): they wanted SIRE AgendaPlus™ (for agenda automation to streamline the meeting processes and procedures from organizing the agenda to taking minutes to posting the supporting documents on the Web): they wanted the full package.," Burgener said.
SIRE has also directly impacted the efficiency for the Auditor’s office by simply making all accounting reports easily accessible. County officials can pull up any appropriate invoices, checks or returned checks. Now, any authorized county official or staff member can go into SIRE to find out if a check has cleared yet – they don’t have to bother the auditor’s office, they can research it themselves. "It saves the Auditor’s office a lot of time and energy," Burgener said.
Burgener added, "Our engineer’s office is using it extensively, and they want more. In fact, we are planning a rollout for AgendaPlus for all their planning meetings.”" AgendaPlus is an industry-leading agenda management tool that facilitates quick and easy organization of planning and council meetings and meeting minutes.
"The Sheriff’s office has gone wild with it. In fact, SIRE developed a mug shot program to run on the Agenda Plus platform called MugCenter. SIRE actually sat down with us and helped develop this mug shot and line up application using SIRE’s tools for the Sheriff’s Department," she said.
Lt. Glen Murray of the Tooele Sheriff’s Department said, "We previously tried to implement a digital storage system in our offices for mug shots, but it simply never worked the way we needed it to work. The guys from SIRE came and created a new application for us to store and manage the mug shots, which are tied to the arrest records. Now when anyone at the jail, county or even the news media is interested in a photo, it is very simple to pull it up and make it available."
Given the unique architecture used by SIRE, programmers were able to quickly create a reliable application that sat on top of the core EDMS. The MugCenter is an example of SIRE’s dedication to producing better outcomes for its clients.
Burgener concluded, "I have never worked with a vendor who has worked so hard to make things work the way our departments really wanted it to work. The time they spent helping our Recorder’s office transition from the old application to the new system – making sure all the changes they requested was unbelievable. Their products are solid and their customer service and support is absolutely stellar."