Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin (CAPSH) is a community action agency working to improve the lives of low-income people in the suburbs of Hennepin County, Minnesota. CAPSH is one of nearly one thousand community action partnership agencies (CAPs) that operate across the country. These agencies are nonprofit organizations, established under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to fight America’s War on Poverty.
CAPSH utilizes outreach, energy assistance programs, homeownership services, and financial counseling to help people achieve self-sufficiency and to break the cycle of poverty. It also houses a Planning and Development department, which helps nonprofit organizations and other service entities to become more effective.
Energy Assistance is one of CAPSH’s largest departments. It is also one the greatest producers of paper files, processing about fifteen thousand 10-40 page applications every year. To make things even more complicated, CAPSH is required to keep these applications on file for seven years.
The result was thousands of files and a huge storage issue. Cindy Hamilton, Electronic Document Management Systems Coordinator at CAPSH recalled the mess. “Files everywhere. People’s desks were piled high. Underneath their desks were piled high. A misplaced file could take hours to find.”
Finally, at the end of 2008, CAPSH found itself out of space to process and store applications. They began to look at electronic document management software.
After seeking advice from several other CAP agencies that had made the change and successfully implemented document management software, CAPSH selected and purchased Laserfiche in the fall of 2009.
|Cindy, who had never worked with a document management system and claimed only basic computer skills were chosen to scan and organize the documents. She worked with Chad Brinkman, a Laserfiche engineer from Solbrekk, to make the process as efficient as possible.|
Chad and Cindy noticed that all application files had a page printed from E-Heat – the department’s main software application – which they used as a cover sheet for batch scanning. This page included all the information they needed: client first name, last name, social security number, household number, and program year. However, over the years the E-Heat program had changed, and so had the location of this important information on the printed page.
To remedy this problem, Chad created a Laserfiche Quick Fields session that could find the information regardless of the year it was produced. Chad and Cindy were also able to use Laserfiche Real-Time Look-Up to validate the accuracy of the information by retrieving information from E-Heat and comparing the values.
Armed with this powerful Laserfiche Quick Fields session, Cindy was able to scan large batches of application files at once. The program did the work of separating the batch into individual applications, naming the files, creating folders, storing each application in a folder, and populating its index fields. Using this automated process, Cindy was able to completely empty fourteen four-drawer filing cabinets the first year, and by the second year, every department’s documents were scanned and recycled.
“I remember the mess we had before,” Cindy says. “But now, with Laserfiche, any application file can be found in just moments.”
When CAPSH’s Finance Director, Win Grandstrand, used to need an old finance report, he’d have to search for it among 30 banker 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,” he says.
By the implementation of Laserfiche, CAPSH has been able to spend less time on frustrating paper issues. Now, they focus that time and energy on completing the task at hand: meeting the needs of the low-income families and helping them find their way to financial independence.