Electronic Records For Community Action Partnerships

Does this sound like your CAP agency?

  • You do not have document management software for storing your electronic records (paperless)
  • PDFs are stored on your server or as an attachment in your case management system
  • Your staff spends more time on paperwork than helping your clients.
  • Paper documents are scattered throughout the office, on desks, in filing cabinets, and in storage boxes.
  • The staff is entering the same data into multiple software applications.
  • A lot of valuable time is spent looking for documents.
  • Applications are received at remote offices and must be sent to the central office for processing.
  • You have no way to ensure that applications are handled according to your policies and procedures.

Would you like to:

  • Increase staff and caseworker productivity?
  • Reclaim office space that is occupied with paper files?
  • Automate business processes such as energy assistance, weatherization, housing, accounts payable. or any CSBG program?
  • Eliminate wasted time searching for documents?
  • Easily get paper applications or documents from remote offices in a timely manner?
  • Ensuring the application approval process is consistent?
  • Allow staff more time to spend with your low-income
    clients?
  • Reduce duplicate data entry?
  • Eliminate the data silo between the various management software used by CAAS?
  • Keeping HIPPA information secure?
  • Safeguarding documents in case of a disaster?
  • Ensuring compliance for all your programs and services?
  • Improve access to documents outside of the office?
  • Get better visibility into workload and staff productivity?
  • Provide a single data entry portal for multiple software programs?
  • Go paperless and increase the productivity of caseworkers?
  • Have a more user-friendly software for community action team members?

I Have Great News For You

We have been helping Community Action Agencies for the past twenty years go paperless and become more efficient and effective. And we can solve each and every goal listed above such as eliminating double data entry. We work with community action agencies to reduce their workload by automating manual processes with Laserfiche Workflow.


Our paperless solutions for CAP agencies are tailored to your exact needs.  You do not change your processes to use our software.  We build your processes into our software and guide your staff through the process step by step. And provide the training and technical support to keep your programs running smoothly.

This Software Is Different

Description of Our Laserfiche Paperless Solution For Community Actions

Our paperless solution for CAP agencies is more than a standard, out-of-the-box software that handles electronic document management tasks. We provide tailorable workflows for:

  • Energy Assistance approval process
  • Weatherization approval and installation process
  • Travel voucher/expense approval process
  • Headstart registration and student on-boarding
  • ChildPlus weekly and monthly reports
  • Housing and Rental Assistance approval process
  • Head Start weekly reports
  • Accounts Payable approval process
  • And many more CSBG approval processes

But we have found that each agency handles these approval processes differently.
This is why our paperless solution uses Laserfiche as the foundation, and we custom-tailor
workflows and forms for each agency to meet their specific needs.

Each agency can then tweak its processes and workflow as they want to. Creating these tailored workflow systems is not a problem for us because we have done this for so many
organizations. We don’t have to start from scratch each time.

The great benefit to you is that you don’t change your processes to work with our software, we tailor our software to fit your business processes.

Just as having a powerful workflow engine is necessary, having a flexible and powerful electronic forms capability becomes necessary as one progresses in their digital journey (often called the digital transformation model).  People often buy an application to fit current, specific needs, but soon outgrow it because they could not see what the future held for them and what capabilities the product needed to meet their future needs.  

If you use our paperless solution for CAP agencies built upon Laserfiche Electronic Document Management System, it will meet your needs today and into the future.  Here is an explanation of the digital transformation model: Read More

If you would like a good overview of Laserfiche ECM (also called Electronic Document Management software), I have a video that you will find helpful.  It will explain why it is such a good foundation for a paperless solution for CAP agencies. Just click this link.

I Would Like To See Detailed Info

Does A Community Action Agency Really Need An Electronic Document Management System?

You may be thinking, “does a CAP really need an ECM system?” You are not alone in that thought. In the past twenty years, we have run into a number of CAP agencies that thought they didn’t need an ECM system like Laserfiche. They thought they could save some money and do it themselves. But, in every case, they ended in a roadblock. And ultimately spend more time and money than they would have implemented our solution. Here is what they tried:

1. Storing PDFs on Their File Server

The most common DYI (do it yourself) solution I have seen CAPs attempt is to turn their file server into an electronic filing cabinet for digital archiving and retrieval.

First, they convert their paper documents into PDFs and store them in folders on their network server.

This seems like a good way to begin the paperless process but, they often run into a roadblock.  They have a problem finding documents.

One big issue is that files are named incorrectly because of typing errors. Or they were filed in the wrong folder.

And since they have very little access control. People inadvertently move or delete files.

And when this happens, they do not have a good way to find documents other than the file name and folder where they are stored.  There is not a good search function for them, which is especially important if a document was stored in the wrong folder or named incorrectly.  And they find out that finding a missing PDF document is harder to find that a paper document.

2. Attaching PDF’s to Their Case Management Software

Another thing that people try is to store their documents in their line of business applications such as CAP60, THO, empowOR, Dynamics, and many more.  This seems to work well.  You don’t think you need search capability because the document is linked to the record in the application.  This is all well and good until someone attaches the documents to the wrong record, your organization decides to move to a new software application, or you need advanced features such as workflow and electronic forms.  For more info on this subject.

3. No Workflow Tools

Whether they opted for either option, they both run into a major roadblock. They realize that they are not saving as much time as they wish they could. And the reason is they don’t have tools to automate manual processes, such as simple as naming documents and as complex as automating an approval process. 

When that happens they either live with the limitations or start looking for a new solution. 

A typical CAP that uses our Laserfiche Paperless Solutions For CAPs to automate their processes, sees at least a 25% increase in productivity.

For these reasons, we recommend you not try to use a DYI (Do Your Own) document management method to store your documents.

We recommend that you use our Laserfiche Paperless Solutions for CAP agencies to convert your paper documents to electronic documents.  It has all the capability to begin the project and for years to come as you look at automating business processes such as energy assistance, weatherization, AP approval, expense report approvals, headstart student enrollment, and many more.

Storing CAP Documents

Many CAP agencies start with our paperless solution to archive documents such as completed energy assistance applications.

There are typically three ways they accomplish this:

  1. Scan a single document at a time.

In this scenario, the user typically uses a dedicated scanner that is connected to a PC. Using this method, they use the Laserfiche scanning interface to scan one document at a time and enter the name and additional metadata which helps in finding the documents more efficiently in the future.

In the video below you can see how easy it is to scan a document into Laserfiche. And near the end of the video, you will see an example of metadata. For a student application, you will see the name, date, year, email, etc. These fields of information are called metadata.

Here is a demonstration of Laserfiche scanning:

Once you have documents scanned into Laserfiche. the document management capability of Laserfiche allows users to documents in seconds.  One way to find them is to simply browse to them in Laserfiche just as you would in Windows Explorer. 

Here is a demonstration of Laserfiche scanning:

To find documents you can browse to the file using the folder structure or you can simply search by entering any word or phrase that may be found on the document or fields associated with the document.  For example, you could enter the household number or first and last name.

Here is a Short Demo of Laserfiche Simple Search

Energy Assistance Automation

Energy Assistance, sometimes called LIEAP, is one of the departments that create the most paperwork. And often is the department that many CAPs begin moving to paperless. In addition, this department has a well-defined approval process that lends itself to automation.

One of the first Community Actions that we worked with to automate their energy assistance (LIHEAP) application approval process was the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington County. They felt that their staff was spending too much time looking for and processing their paper documents. This left too little time to spend with their clients

We worked with Catherine Fair, EA Director, and her staff to understand and implement their energy assistance application process in Laserfiche Workflow. The project was a huge success, it dramatically improved the efficiency of their caseworkers.

Now no one had to search for the next case file to process. When they completed their part of the approval process the file was routed to the next person in the approval process. It makes such an impact on the organization that it was awarded Laserfiche’s Run Smarter Award for the outstanding implementation of Laserfiche that made an organization more efficient and effective. You can read more about this implementation at Read More and Read More

Here is a more detailed look at a LIHEAP/ Energy Assistance approval process:

As I mentioned before, each agency seems to have a unique process, so the following example is just one way we handle the EA approval process.  This is an example of a CAP agency in Minnesota, and we will be covering a portion of the approval process. Note: If you purchase this solution, we will customize it to your specific needs.

First, the applicant fills out an application form that looks like this: (note: for some States, we create an electronic form for this and the client fills it out online, other agencies, intake personnel conduct interviews and fill out the paperwork or electronic form and send it to Laserfiche even if they are in a remote office.)

Here is a more detailed look at a LIHEAP/ Energy Assistance approval process:

The application is mailed or delivered to the CAP agency in their area.  A staff person at the CAP agency enters the information into the State of Minnesota system called EHEAT.  Then the user hits the Laserfiche connector button which scrapes the screen for pertinent information and saves it temporarily. The staff person loads the application form into their scanner and enters the household number. Laserfiche pulls the household number and other key information that was temporarily saved by Laserfiche Connector into the index fields associated with the scanned application form.  (Note this capability is done without the State of Minnesota modifying their EHEAT software.)

The picture on the above left is a sample of the index fields that are associated with the application form.  Laserfiche has automatically filled out the household number, program year, address, and applicant name.

Next Laserfiche creates a folder for this application and names it appropriately.  It then it creates the electronic forms that are needed to approve this applicant and stores them in the folder.  These forms are populated with the data that has been collected thus far to save data entry.  Here is a sample of an eligibility form.

A set of index fields are attached to the application folder.  These fields house the data that is used by workflow to know where the application is in the approval process and who has worked on the application at each step in the approval process.  Here is a sample of this folder template.

The folder is then moved to a folder in Laserfiche that is associated with the next step in the approval process.  Here is an example folder structure.

As each step in the process is completed by a staff member, they update an index field indicating that they have completed that step in the process.  Laserfiche then moves the application to the folder of the next step.  (In all cases, there are people verifying that they have all the information, certifying that the income meets requirements, and processing payments when income becomes available.)

f users wish, notifications can be set up that will email the user that a new application is ready for them to process.  They can access that application right from that email.  But, typically having an email for each application is too distracting for most users.  They typically work out of a folder in Laserfiche that has all the applications that are ready for them to work on, in priority order.

The Laserfiche workflow handles all denials, missing information, and other exceptions to the approval process.  In addition, it watches for time-sensitive applications and makes sure that they are processed in the allocated time.  If an application is nearing the allocated time, reminders will be sent, and it will, in extreme cases, expedite to the staff supervisor.

The other thing many CAP agencies have us work into the workflow is the ability to notify other departments of needs for other services that were uncovered, such as Weatherization, counseling, and Child Services.

When the application is completed, Laserfiche files the application and all the associated documents, such as the eligibility form, in its final resting place where it can be seen by anyone that has rights to do so.

We also have the ability to update other applications such as CAP60, empowOR, and many others with the information in Laserfiche.  That prevents the user from having to do double data entry.

One additional thing we do for some agencies is to create a dashboard for management.  It is a tool for CAP managers to help them manage their departments better. It will be explained in a section below.

Note:  This is just a sample EA application approval process.  We will deliver a solution that will be customized to your exact needs.

If you are interested, we would love to give you a demo of an energy assistance/LIHEAP approval process.  Just give us a call.

After Archiving The Next Thing CAPs Do Is Automate

Energy assistance automation

Energy Assistance, sometimes called LIEAP, is one of the departments that create the most paperwork. And often is the department that many CAPs begin moving to paperless. In addition, this department has a well-defined approval process that lends itself to automation.

Catherine Faire, CAP Ramsey Washington

One of the first Community Actions that we worked with to automate their energy assistance (LIHEAP) application approval process was the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington County. They felt that their staff was spending too much time looking for and processing their paper documents. This left too little time to spend with their clients

We worked with Catherine Fair, EA Director, and her staff to understand and implement their energy assistance application process in Laserfiche Workflow. The project was a huge success, it dramatically improved the efficiency of their caseworkers.

Now no one had to search for the next case file to process. When they completed their part of the approval process the file was routed to the next person in the approval process. It makes such an impact on the organization that it was awarded Laserfiche’s Run Smarter Award for the outstanding implementation of Laserfiche that made an organization more efficient and effective. You can read more about this implementation at Read More and Read More

Here is a more detailed look at a LIHEAP/ Energy Assistance approval process:

As I mentioned before, each agency seems to have a unique process, so the following example is just one way we handle the EA approval process.  This is an example of a CAP agency in Minnesota, and we will be covering a portion of the approval process. Note: If you purchase this solution, we will customize it to your specific needs.

First, the applicant fills out an application form that looks like this: (note: for some States, we create an electronic form for this and the client fills it out online, other agencies, intake personnel conduct interviews and fill out the paperwork or electronic form and send it to Laserfiche even if they are in a remote office.)

The application is mailed or delivered to the CAP agency in their area.  A staff person at the CAP agency enters the information into the State of Minnesota system called EHEAT.  Then the user hits the Laserfiche connector button which scrapes the screen for pertinent information and saves it temporarily. The staff person loads the application form into their scanner and enters the household number. Laserfiche pulls the household number and other key information that was temporarily saved by Laserfiche Connector into the index fields associated with the scanned application form.  (Note this capability is done without the State of Minnesota modifying their EHEAT software.)

The picture on the above left is a sample of the index fields that are associated with the application form.  Laserfiche has automatically filled out the household number, program year, address, and applicant name.

Next Laserfiche creates a folder for this application and names it appropriately.  It then it creates the electronic forms that are needed to approve this applicant and stores them in the folder.  These forms are populated with the data that has been collected thus far to save data entry.  Here is a sample of an eligibility form.

A set of index fields are attached to the application folder.  These fields house the data that is used by workflow to know where the application is in the approval process and who has worked on the application at each step in the approval process.  Here is a sample of this folder template.

The folder is then moved to a folder in Laserfiche that is associated with the next step in the approval process.  Here is an example folder structure.

As each step in the process is completed by a staff member, they update an index field indicating that they have completed that step in the process.  Laserfiche then moves the application to the folder of the next step.  (In all cases, there are people verifying that they have all the information, certifying that the income meets requirements, and processing payments when income becomes available.)

f users wish, notifications can be set up that will email the user that a new application is ready for them to process.  They can access that application right from that email.  But, typically having an email for each application is too distracting for most users.  They typically work out of a folder in Laserfiche that has all the applications that are ready for them to work on, in priority order.

The Laserfiche workflow handles all denials, missing information, and other exceptions to the approval process.  In addition, it watches for time-sensitive applications and makes sure that they are processed in the allocated time.  If an application is nearing the allocated time, reminders will be sent, and it will, in extreme cases, expedite to the staff supervisor.

The other thing many CAP agencies have us work into the workflow is the ability to notify other departments of needs for other services that were uncovered, such as Weatherization, counseling, and Child Services.

When the application is completed, Laserfiche files the application and all the associated documents, such as the eligibility form, in its final resting place where it can be seen by anyone that has rights to do so.

We also have the ability to update other applications such as CAP60, empowOR, and many others with the information in Laserfiche.  That prevents the user from having to do double data entry.

One additional thing we do for some agencies is to create a dashboard for management.  It is a tool for CAP managers to help them manage their departments better. It will be explained in a section below.

Note:  This is just a sample EA application approval process.  We will deliver a solution that will be customized to your exact needs.

If you are interested, we would love to give you a demo of an energy assistance/LIHEAP approval process.  Just give us a call.

Weatherization AUtomation

Weatherization is another department with a lot of paper documents and a very complicated approval process.  We have helped a number of organizations automate their Weatherization and Energy Repair approval processes.

Using Laserfiche Forms we were able to create State approved electronic forms that can be filled in offline on an IPAD or Tablet when the staff is onsite inspecting the property.  When the Tablet is connected to the internet, the documents are securely uploaded to Laserfiche.  Workflow is used to route the application and associated documents to the appropriate user to complete the next step in the approval process.

Laserfiche has greatly improved to the ability to process Weatherization approval processes in a timely manner and helped management have better insight to begin improving their processes

Headstart

Headstart departments can benefit from going paperless using Laserfiche.  They typically have a huge amount of paper documents.  Often caseworkers are out of the office and having access to client documents via the internet on their tablet is very helpful.  The users have told us that; remote access capability allows them to function without going back to the office, keep copies of a child’s artwork and give a copy to the parent, and give multiple people access to a case file all at one time.

Accounting

The finance department of a Community Action can benefit greatly by using Laserfiche.  We helped CAP agencies archive old finance records, automate the AP approval process, integrate with ERP software application such as Abila MIP Tyler, Sage, and Great Plains Dynamics, store finance reports directly from the ERP program, and automate payment processes with other departments such as Weatherization.

One of our clients, Win Grandstrand, Finance Director, Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin said; “When I needed an old finance report, I would have to search for it among 30 storage boxes. Now, those reports are available with the click of his mouse. You just can’t imagine how you appreciate those time savings when you’re busy.”

Typical uses for Laserfiche in the accounting department:

  • Accounts Payable approval process
  • Invoice processing – capture data off of invoice and push it into accounting software, eliminating data entry
  • Purchase requisition approval process
  • Expense reports approval process

Paperless Forms

One great way to cut and reduce paper in your community action agency is to eliminate paper forms.  We have helped numerous CAPs do just that.  We can create your paper forms in Laserfiche Forms or we can take your PDF and add fillable fields.  Not when these forms are submitted, Laserfiche Workflow picks them up and begins your approval process.  We can also use the information gathered from the form and push it to your other systems such as CAP60, empowOR, and THO, just to name a few.  This eliminates double data entry and makes sure all your systems are up-to-date with the latest information.

Dashboard and Reporting

Dashboard for Community Action Agencies is a tool for CAP managers to help them manage their departments better. It collects data from a Laserfiche workflow, such as Energy Assistance or Weatherization Application approval workflow.  It gathers data and populates and database.

The Dashboard is very useful for measuring and monitoring the performance of the whole department, or each caseworker, or individual steps in the process.  It is helpful for managers to identify bottlenecks in their processes,  And when they tweak their processes and workflow, they are able to monitor the impact.

Another thing it is helpful for is monitoring and adjusting staffing levels,  Managers are able to predict peak workloads and shit staffing to meet those workloads.  Caseworkers’ performance is monitored to help identify issues that may need to be addressed or that may require additional training.

Why a CAP Agency needs a dashboard:

  • Improve cumbersome, complex processes
  • Want better business insight
  • Want to align processes with business needs
  • Need better data policy oversight
  • Would like to monitor and manage staffing levels better
  • Would like more visibility into processes

What benefits does an organization have with a dashboard?:

  • Predictive analytics create new ways to improve doing business
  • Processes built for growth and to support organizational goals
  • Streamlined, simplified business processes
  • Increased vision into process health and performance
  • Ability to track employee productivity
  • Ability to reach optimal staffing levels using analytics

Expenses

One of the things that seem to frustrate Community Action employees and managers is travel vouchers/expense reports.

Each month the employee that travels as part of their job is required to document their travel expenses and turn them in on time.  This is typically done by filling out a paper form.

The paperwork then must be given to their supervisor who must approve it. And then if the reimbursed amount is over a certain amount, it must go to management for approval before going to accounting to be paid.

Often, accounting only pays expenses once a month. So, timing is critical to get the paper application routed through the office in time to make the cutoff. And if at any point in the approval process, the travel voucher is rejected it needs to go back to the employee to correct. This approval process is further complicated in organizations that have staff working from different locations.

We have helped community actions and other organizations solve these challenges by automating the travel voucher/expense reimbursement process. We start by creating an electronic version of their travel voucher using Laserfiche Forms and put a link to it on their company website or an internal intranet. We then map out the complete approval process and automate it in Laserfiche.

Each month, the employee clicks on the link and fills out the form. The form is checked to make sure the information is complete and then is routed to the 1st approver in the process. The forms are sent to their work folder in Laserfiche Forms and an email sends with a link to the voucher. The approver can go to their work folder or simply click on the link in the email and either approve or reject the form. They are also able to add notes and comments. This process is done for each approver in the approval process. Finally, the document is routed to accounting.

For some organizations, we push this data into their accounting program to save data entry. In other organizations, the accounting staff will enter view the voucher in Laserfiche and enter the data in their accounting system.  Then a field in Laserfiche is updated to tell the system that the voucher has been paid.  Laserfiche then automatically files the document in its final resting place in Laserfiche.

Expenses

One of the things that seem to frustrate Community Action employees and managers is travel vouchers/expense reports.

Each month the employee that travels as part of their job is required to document their travel expenses and turn them in on time.  This is typically done by filling out a paper form.

The paperwork then must be given to their supervisor who must approve it. And then if the reimbursed amount is over a certain amount, it must go to management for approval before going to accounting to be paid.

Often, accounting only pays expenses once a month. So, timing is critical to get the paper application routed through the office in time to make the cutoff. And if at any point in the approval process, the travel voucher is rejected it needs to go back to the employee to correct. This approval process is further complicated in organizations that have staff working from different locations.

We have helped community actions and other organizations solve these challenges by automating the travel voucher/expense reimbursement process. We start by creating an electronic version of their travel voucher using Laserfiche Forms and put a link to it on their company website or an internal intranet. We then map out the complete approval process and automate it in Laserfiche.

Each month, the employee clicks on the link and fills out the form. The form is checked to make sure the information is complete and then is routed to the 1st approver in the process. The forms are sent to their work folder in Laserfiche Forms and an email sends with a link to the voucher. The approver can go to their work folder or simply click on the link in the email and either approve or reject the form. They are also able to add notes and comments. This process is done for each approver in the approval process. Finally, the document is routed to accounting.

For some organizations, we push this data into their accounting program to save data entry. In other organizations, the accounting staff will enter view the voucher in Laserfiche and enter the data in their accounting system.  Then a field in Laserfiche is updated to tell the system that the voucher has been paid.  Laserfiche then automatically files the document in its final resting place in Laserfiche.

Here is What Our Clients say

CAP Energy Assistance
Robin Tousley Community Action Partnership Hennepin County

“We went from processing about 12,000 Energy Assistance Applications to over 22,000 with 33% less staff in one year – how? Laserfiche workflow”

Catherine Fair Community Action Partnership Ramsey Washington

By digitizing applications and automating the approval process with Laserfiche workflow, we have significantly improved crisis response time.
They did an amazing job working with our staff”

Community Action using Laserfiche
Katie McLemore Applications Analyst
CAP RW

“One of the great benefits of Hemingway Solutions is its institutional knowledge of our agency and Community Action Agency processes. "

Cindy Hamilton Electronic Document Management Systems Coordinator Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin

“Files everywhere. People’s desks were piled high. Underneath their desks were piled high. A misplaced file could take hours to find. Now with Laserfiche we have no paper files and finding a file takes just moments.”

Pam Wild Energy Assistance Director, Minnesota Valley Action Council

“Great to work with, very responsive to our needs. And Laserfiche Workflow they created for us has helped us be more responsive to our client’s needs.”

Kootaska CAP Agency Used Laserfiche
Chris Larson IT Director
Kootasca Community Action

“I am totally amazed at how a simple Laserfiche workflow could make our energy assistance approval so much more efficient –

we are about twice as efficient as we were before Laserfiche”

Wright County Community Action uses Laserfiche
Jay Brenny Energy and Housing Director
Wright County Community Action Agency

“Laserfiche saves foot traffic and time when we need to review past client files – an estimated 1 to 2 hours per week for each full-time staff person.”

Laserfiche reduces staff
Kevin Adams Community Partnership Ramsey Washington

“We reduced the staff count by 25% without sacrificing the quality of our service. Our staff is now spending more time doing high-value tasks rather than dealing with paperwork.

Gregan Crawford Garrett County CAC goes paperless
Gregan Crawford Vice President of Strategic Initiatives,BR>Garrett Co. CAC

“This has allowed us to understand better the needs of our clients and bundle services that will meet their needs.“

CAP using forms portal and electronic signatures
Rand Clark Community Services Supervisor,br>Douglas County, CO

“Laserfiche saves our staff so much time.”

Wright Co CAP used Laserfiche supported by Hemingway Solutions
Jay Brenny Housing and Energy Director
Wright County Community Action Agency

“Laserfiche, love the product!”

Liz Kuoppala Executive Director
Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership

“In an effort to be more efficient and effective, the Agency made the decision to go paperless and EAP developed workflow processes utilizing Laserfiche scanning software. This software allows us to work on applications from any of our offices.”