The Travis County Clerk’s office is located in Austin, Texas, and employs approximately 150 people amongst six divisions. Home to 1.1 million people and the state capital, the area is a mecca for live music, film, and outdoor adventures.
The county clerk’s office maintained a DMS system that was heavy on redundant processes and prone to error. Thanks to funding from the County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir, the Clerk’s office would soon be able to reduce physical paper handling while moving toward a more modernized and integrated system.
Bob Trautman, the IT Division Manager with 18 years of service until his retirement in late February, set out to develop a highly-integrated environment that eliminated duplicate data points and incorporated comprehensive built-in controls. His vision was to maintain the integrity of their current DMS while also providing a comprehensive workflow that integrated with the Probate Court.
The County Clerk serves as the Clerk of the Court for the Civil County Courts at Law. The Clerk’s responsibilities include receiving the filings for civil cases, preparing notices and citations, and maintaining records associated with the cases filed before the court.
The County Clerk also serves as Clerk of the Court for the Travis County Probate Court, which hears issues associated with the estates of deceased persons, guardianships for incapacitated persons, mental health commitments, and eminent domain cases. The Clerk’s Probate Division issues citations, writs of execution, abstracts of judgment, letters of guardianship, letters testamentary, protective orders, notices, and other documents as required by law or requested by customers.
The Travis County Clerk’s office was plagued by duplication and manual workflows. There were no redaction capabilities, no integration with the courts, and no interaction with electronic filing. On a typical day, users would first print documents before scanning them into the existing DMS. If barcodes were misread, however, they could potentially concatenate documents or miss them altogether. Overall, there was minimal quality control, and a third-party vendor was being paid to redact documents. Therefore, the conversion to a new enterprise content management (ECM) system would include a four-part process for the Commissioner’s Court, Probate and Civil Courts, Misdemeanor courts, and real property systems.
THE SELECTION PROCESS
The Travis County Clerk, in conjunction with Travis County Purchasing Department, prepared a comprehensive RFP well in advance of the selection process. This RFP was structured to evaluate not only the product itself but the contractors and their potential to develop comprehensive, customized and integrated solutions. This RFP was also structured to address enterprise DMS needs. If the projects within the County Clerk’s Office were successful, other departments could then utilize the system for their respective projects. The Travis County Clerk’s office eventually chose ImageSoft to implement OnBase by Hyland, a highly configurable enterprise content management system with integrated workflow capability. As a VAR of Hyland, ImageSoft was a contractor that could provide a high degree of efficiency for their needs, one of which required integration points.
PHASE I COMMISSIONER’S COURT
The County Clerk’s office required an official document repository to maintain court minutes. However, this is where business processes became problematic for them. One official copy of court minutes and supporting documentation resided in OnBase while a second copy was created for use in a third-party viewing portal with no communication and/or synchronization.
Not wanting to find themselves in a situation where the viewing portal minutes did not match what was in the official DMS record repository, an interface was developed between Accela, formerly IQM2, to maintain automation between the official copy within the OnBase system and the third party viewing portal website. If someone wanted to preview a video, they would then click on the selected item in the portal minutes and be directed automatically to the video portion that discusses it. An improvement in quality controls and synchronization was required for the Commissioner’s Court Minutes, and ImageSoft met these requirements by constructing an interface using OnBase. This phase was a success, and the clerk’s office was able to move forward with Phase II.
PHASE II PROBATE COURT
Phase II was a more involved process as the current system lacked redaction capabilities as well as workflow processes between the Courts and the Clerk’s office. At the end of each business day, employees ran a set of jobs but would have to extract those documents out of the legacy DMS to FTP to a third-party redaction vendor. If someone were to go back a few days later and find a mistake, however, he or she would honor it in the DMS, but may not always follow procedures which required corresponding revisions with the third-party vendor. Again, this led to a synchronization problem.
The County Clerk had a preexisting web portal that allowed the public to view CMS information. With an extensive API interface now available in OnBase, this portal was modified during Phase II to display documents with corresponding CMS Register of Action events for the Public to utilize as needed.
Nowadays, the clerk’s office receives filings through an electronic portal so there is no opportunity for manual errors. Instead, users are presented with automated recall and document synchronization. Phase II was completed in February 2016, and along with the finalization came Bob Trautman’s retirement. Once his replacement is named, Phases III and IV will be underway using the work and analysis from the proven projects.
As solutions were developed for the Travis County Clerk’s office and the new system was approved, the central IT Department, along with other county departments, agreed they should move the solution to an enterprise level with additional funding approved by the Commissioners Court.
ImageSoft had the capability to deliver customized solutions while thinking outside the box. Indeed, the projects were so successful; there is now an enterprise agreement in place for all departments to utilize the system if they so desire.”