Community action agencies and non-profits today use a variety of software systems: Abila, empowOR, CAP60, ChildPlus, just to name a few. Each of these systems has some information that overlaps. For example, each one might have important contact information for clients, such as address, demographics, phone numbers, and email addresses.
The problem is that these systems cannot communicate with each other, so they become, essentially, silos of information.
While this is not inherently bad, it can be a big problem if a customer changes their fax number. Instead of making the change once, you have to go into multiple systems to update the information. This duplicate data entry is a big problem for many community action agencies.
This is where ECM comes in. A good ECM has the capability to become the bridge between these silos of information.
If an ECM is designed correctly and has agile functionality, it can be used as the middle man (middle-ware) to pass data from one system to another, making the two systems function as one.
For example, in a Minnesota CAP, the users in the energy assistance department have to enter client information into the State’s system. Rather than re-keying that information in their case management system, they just hit a button, and Laserfiche copies the data off the screen and populates it in their case management system.
Another area where we have used the ECM system to save data entry is accounts payable. We have an organization that scans their invoices and Laserfiche captures the critical data off the page, such as vendor, amount, and date, and then populates the index fields associated with the invoice. The workflow then automatically matches up the PO and packing slip. The invoice is then routed to the appropriate people for approval. When it is approved, the data is automatically entered into Abila MIP, eliminating order entry.
For some agencies, we have made electronic forms that are the central portal of several of the CAP’s software systems. Here is a story about one: https://www.hemingwaysolutions.net/works/douglas-county-cap-electronic-signature/
With a good ECM, a good share of duplicate data entry goes away and so does the chance for additional errors.