MONAGHAN COUNTY COUNCIL
IMPROVING THE COMMUNITY HOUSING EXPERIENCE THROUGH DIGITISATION (IRELAND)
From 2008-2013, Ireland’s recession drove the Government of Ireland to mandate that all local government authorities reduce their headcount and costs while increasing efficiency and improving customer service. This was a challenging task for many counties across the country, but for Monaghan, they were able to respond successfully with the help of Laserfiche Enterprise Content Management (ECM).
After learning of the familiarity of Laserfiche’s interface to Microsoft products and how easy it was to use, the Council’s management team in the Housing Department led the project in re-engineering the Grants Management Process within their department. Council staff identified their digital transformation roadmap for Housing by integrating Laserfiche with their key lines of business applications for housing, finance and grants.
Monaghan County Council is the authority responsible for local government in County Monaghan, Ireland. The Council is responsible for Housing, Road Transportations & Safety, Environmental Services, Economic & Community, Development, Planning & Building Control, Fire & Rescue, Libraries, Museum, Arts, Culture & Heritage.
Council staff were managing manual, paper-heavy tasks in several business processes. In particular, when handling their housing applications as well as their tenant and grant applications, the Council experienced process lag issues, as information was stored on network drives, making search and retrieval difficult.
By integrating existing systems with Laserfiche content management, Monaghan County Council has digitised their paper documents, enabled automation of updates to their database and supported efficient planning and procurement of maintenance services.
• Saved over €100,000+ annually
• Automated communications to internal property inspection engineers, external occupational therapists and submissions to the central government
• Enabled instantaneous access for staff to all documentation and greatly improved response times
Centralised Housing Grants Management
Grants management for Monaghan County Council was a challenge as it involved many paper documents and physical communication between departments and third parties, such as occupational therapists. When handling their housing applications as well as tenant and grant applications, the Council experienced process lag issues. There was also a risk of information. All these factors reflected in their key performance indicators, so the Council needed a way to improve customer service while optimising overall services.
The existing grants process relied solely on physical files and manual routing to engineers and grants officers in the Council, as well as external occupational therapists.
The process was initiated upon receipt of a grant application form for one of three types of private residential grants: Housing Aid for Older People, Mobility Access Grant and Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for People with a Disability. Upon receipt of the application along with appropriate medical certificates, quotations for works, income and ownership of residence proof, staff would insert the supporting documents into a new physical file folder and a grant reference was attached. Due to this, measurement and monitoring of all grants in progress proved to be very difficult. Multiple copies of documents were in circulation for every open grant application. This led to loss, duplication and delays in awarding grants.
In looking for a solution, their objective from the outset was to digitise all documents centrally to avoid duplication and multiple copies from being physically distributed between departments. As staff completed each step of the process, all dates and grant figures had to be manually inputted into their Grants Database System (GDS). All forms, including those for engineering inspections and central government funding, were completed manually.
After implementing Laserfiche, staff re-engineered the Grants Application Process, reducing the majority of physical steps in the process. With the exception of scanning inbound external documents, their Grants Process is now completely digital using Laserfiche for electronic capturing and routing. The scanned documents are routed to their Laserfiche repository for centralised access and to prevent saving of documents into unstructured network drives.
The Council has also automated all inputs to the GDS using workflow business process automation, and the process of government submission is now automated via Forms by leveraging the data from the GDS. This means that staff can update the Grant Application on the go with the help of Laserfiche Forms. Now the team can ensure transparent and smooth operations and eliminate all physical communications and capture.
Initial and final physical inspections are now completed and submitted electronically using Forms and are pre-populated for the engineers from the GDS. This has saved manual work on the part of the engineers and reallocated their time to other tasks. All approval steps are done electronically in Laserfiche.
Internal and External Communications
The Council has completely automated communications to internal property inspection engineers, external occupational therapists and the Irish central government. Submissions are now triggered automatically. The number of hours saved has resulted in redeploying half a headcount as the clerical officer can now focus on other duties. Costs have also gone down as there is reduced printing, postage, stationary and physical filing. With more analytical information available, the integrity of the overall grant data has significantly improved.
Staff response times have improved as they can find information quicker since their automated processes have created electronic filling structures for whenever there is a new housing or grant application. Occupational therapist reports and environment health officer reports are fully digitised. Laserfiche has also helped the Council remove the need for physical filing cabinets and storage.
In managing their properties, the Council has utilised the Laserfiche Mobile app, so that their engineers and craft workers can kick off processes and submit repair requests and inspections remotely.
Complying with Government Mandates and More
Over the last two years, since the rollout of Laserfiche, the solution has not only helped the Council achieve the government’s mandates, it has exceeded their expectations in ROI.
“Over the past two years, Monaghan County Council has reduced average re-let time from 19.5 weeks to 7.5 weeks,” said Carmel O’Hare, Head of Information Systems at Monaghan County Council.
Savings are being realised for each process that the Council has automated utilising Forms, Workflow and Mobile. They have seen numerous improvements in terms of efficiency, customer service performance and reallocating headcount. To date, the Housing Department has saved two full time equivalents in terms of headcount.
Monaghan County Council has commenced the rollout of Laserfiche to the HR Department. They are implementing the Public Portal for their Planning Department and the Monaghan Museum to allow their citizens access to public files. Beyond that, they will look into introducing public forms to digitise at source all of the public facing forms.
We’ve automated our health and safety statements, housing capital preventative and planned maintenance, utility readings, leisure area inspections processes—all using Laserfiche!”
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