The City of Mount Pearl in Newfoundland and Labrador has a strategic focus on digital transformation aimed to improve public service and enhance the citizen experience. In 2018, the city launched a large-scale project to digitize city records using its Laserfiche enterprise content management (ECM) system, which lay the groundwork for process automation initiatives. It was during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, that the city began to fully realize the value of digital transformation.
Mount Pearl initiated a work-from-home protocol in March of 2020, a shift which highlighted the inefficiency of legacy processes and reignited the city’s focus on process improvement. The city first identified its most “essential processes” — those that were critical to the health and safety of citizens — to digitize and automate, supporting business continuity as city employees were not all working in the same physical location.
The purchase order (PO) process was identified as essential early on, as it enables the city to pay vendors that help carry out services critical to residents, such as snow clearing or garbage collection. In just two weeks, the city designed and deployed a digital PO process using its Laserfiche ECM system. The new process allowed users to upload a PO from the city’s financial system to an electronic form, automatically route it to the appropriate people to approve, confirm receipt of goods, and process. All necessary documents are automatically archived using a standardized filing convention for easy retrieval.
The city’s tax adjustment process was the next area of focus. The formerly paper-based manual process is now driven by electronic forms and an automated workflow. As a result of the automated process, the city has continued to provide service to residents and businesses in a timely and efficient manner. Further, employees can track and trace activities on each adjustment submission and potentially refund — a capability which did not previously exist.
In line with new COVID protocols, the city determined it would be prudent to require employees and contractors to complete a self-screen form before entering any city building. Because the form deals with health information, the protection of personal privacy was of prime concern. The self-screen was rolled out to employees as an electronic form, and the repository storage location of submitted information had limited access, with retention/destruction settings configured specifically for these records. The simple form has allowed the city to keep employees and citizens safer during the pandemic while continuing needed services.
According to Darren Wall, Records and Information Management Officer at the City of Mount Pearl, business process automation “has allowed the city to quickly adapt and operate effectively within a highly modified work environment due to the current pandemic.”
Additionally, staff efficiency and renewed engagement from employees has boosted morale. The city now has more standardized processes and the ability to track performance data in a way that it could not before, enabling more informed decisions about processes and productivity. “We are moving away from anecdotal discussions and focusing on more evidence-based discussion,” Wall added. “This is fundamentally changing the way we do business.”
This article was authored by Linda Ding, Senior Director of Vertical Marketing Strategy, at Laserfiche.