The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) employs over 900 people and provides comprehensive wastewater and stormwater management services to over 1.3 million people in St. Louis and the surrounding areas. In operation since 1954, the organization recently recognized the need to transform its document management processes. MSD sought to modernize the internal and external user experience for employees and residents, while increasing efficiency and supporting information governance. MSD also needed to adapt quickly to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, to equip employees with tools to work remotely.
For a 67-year-old organization, this transition wasn’t necessarily straightforward. It meant moving all documents into a central cloud repository that allowed for secure storage of large files, and decades-old schematics needed to be accessed and worked on from anywhere, by authorized employees.
Testing the Waters for a Digital Future
MSD’s mission has always been to protect the public’s health, safety, and water environment by responsibly providing wastewater and stormwater management. While its mission hasn’t changed, MSD recently began identifying opportunities for improving operations, empowering its employees and delivering consistent, high-quality customer service.
As local governments, agencies and special districts grow in size and services, the ability to share information and collaborate while also maintaining information governance becomes increasingly important. MSD implemented Laserfiche Cloud to enhance information sharing both internally and externally, while facilitating regulatory compliance, safeguarding electronic records and simplifying records management with the solution’s records management capabilities. Along with automatic updates and easy scalability, Laserfiche Cloud helped MSD to streamline document search and retrieval, allowing staff to perform more efficiently and improve the quality of information delivered to stakeholders.
“The biggest impact of MSD’s Laserfiche Cloud initiative has been on employee productivity,” John Daly, information governance manager at MSD said. “The ability for staff in different departments to access documents organization-wide has saved countless hours previously spent on manually requesting and sharing files.”
As part of this digital transformation initiative, staff are now able to preserve critical information dating back decades. In addition to streamlining document management, this increases accessibility of important content while enabling oversight across the organization.
The operational benefits of adopting a cloud system were especially evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping staff transition to working remotely and contributing to business resiliency during an ongoing, major disruption. The new system allowed MSD to continue meeting customer needs while keeping staff safe.
“With a high level of agility, flexibility and scalability, we couldn’t be happier with using the cloud and its role in our organization as a core business application,” Daly said. “You don’t have to be a records management information governance expert to succeed with it.”
Interoperability is also key to MSD’s Laserfiche Cloud system, which includes custom-built integrations with Outlook and DocuSign that facilitate approval processes and improve the user experience. Designed and implemented in partnership with Accelerated Information Systems, MSD’s Laserfiche solution provider, MSD staff can drag-and-drop email directly from Outlook into the Laserfiche repository. All relevant record retention schedules are automatically applied to these uploaded emails, and attachments appear in the file’s metadata just as they would within Outlook.
“Laserfiche has really opened our eyes to new possibilities we had not even considered before,” Daly said. “We have really noticed an improvement in our overall operations since developing these integrations to automating document management processes.”
A Transparent Pipeline of Content
In addition to addressing the needs of staff members, MSD reimagined the way staff could share documents with people outside of the organization. Rather than rely on traditional methods of information sharing that lacked trackability such as email, USB drives or discs, MSD deployed Laserfiche Direct Share, which allows users to share content from their Laserfiche repository with external customers or community members in an audited and tracked manner.
“Direct Share has been one of the most useful solutions for us at MSD. I don’t have attorneys calling me anymore, saying, ‘How can I get these case files to someone?’” Daly said. “My phone doesn’t ring as much because now they are using Direct Share to their benefit.”
MSD attorneys can password-protect links, set the amount of time that recipients can access a document, and manage and track sharing and downloading activities.
A Clear Path for Digital Transformation
MSD continues to modernize processes enterprise-wide using cloud solutions and digital transformation to reimagine how employees, vendors and citizens interact with the organization. As part of its commitment to transparency, the district created a Laserfiche-powered public portal on its new website, which gives citizens frictionless access to public documents such as those related to environmental compliance, annual reports, budgets, diversity and more.
Additionally, MSD is working to deploy a number of Laserfiche electronic forms to digitally manage activities such as travel reimbursement, company vehicle requests, badge requests, and business card requests, with more in the works. By digitizing information, forms and processes, MSD is uncovering greater efficiencies while improving the experience for employees and citizens alike.
“For me it’s all about the customer — whether internal or external,” Daly said. “Every day we have the opportunity to make someone’s day better and meet people’s needs. Every day I’m working, I’m asking what paper-based processes we currently have that could become digital. When customers and employees find information in seconds, rather than minutes, that’s providing us with real organizational value.” WW
About the Author: Linda Ding is the senior director of vertical marketing for Laserfiche. In her role, she leads Laserfiche’s industry marketing group which is focused on the technology trends affecting highly regulated industries such as workflow automation, digital customer service delivery, and data analytics. She frequently speaks at and attends industry conferences, and her expertise in the education, financial services, government and manufacturing sectors has made her a leading voice on industry trends. Ding holds B.A. degrees in Economics and Cognitive Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. degree in Program Evaluation from Claremont Graduate University.