City of Monroe|
City of Monroe enhances information managment and communications with Lotus Notes and Domino
The City of Monroe was looking for a clear and consistent way to store, access, manage, and track information, and turned to Lotus Notes for its answer. After the City examined a number of different alternatives, it was decided that the Lotus Notes groupware and messaging solution would best fit its needs. Prior to implementing Notes, the City was utilizing a Novell network running DOS-based systems. The system did not allow for easy access to information, provide any capabilities to search for data, enable workers to automate processes, or offer any electronic communications capabilities.
The City of Monroe implemented Lotus Notes to improve its communications and sharing of information within its agency, with other organizations, as well as with the citizens of Monroe. "We are using Notes to manage our clerical records, track permits, enhance customer service, and for e-mail and targeted group discussions," explained Bill Verwolf, City administrator for Monroe, Washington. The City has approximately 53 PCs running Notes in a Windows 95 environment on a Novell network.
As most of the City's employees are in and out of the office during the day, communication among staff is difficult. It might have taken a day or two for an employee to respond to another employee's question, as employees would need to schedule face-to-face meetings with their co-worker or try to reach them on the telephone. "Lotus Notes MailŪ has significantly enhanced internal communications in our office," said Verwolf. "We no longer need to physically go to another office to meet with a person. We can simply send an e-mail with a question, and when the person returns to the office, they can respond to the question at their convenience. We are also able to easily schedule meetings. Via Notes calendaring and scheduling features, we are able to access other staff members' real-time calendar information and coordinate a meeting without making any phone calls or leaving our desk." Notes enables City employees to easily share ideas and information, send and receive messages, and take part in online group discussions. In just a short period of time, the City has realized significant improvement in its communications.
Managing the City's Information
Not only has Notes enhanced communications, it has also improved data access and the generation of reports, and enabled the City to automate workflow processes.
"Working with Datahouse, Inc., a Lotus Premium Business Partner located in Newcastle, Washington, we have and are still developing a number of Lotus Notes applications to increase our staff's productivity," explained Verwolf. "We developed a Lotus Notes application to manage the Clerk's records, including ordinances, resolutions, meeting minutes, City codes, etc." The documents are either entered into Notes directly or converted from word processing files to Notes database files. With Notes' search capabilities, a user can easily search for more information on a City code, or an ordinance or resolution linked to that code, and determine whether there are any inconsistencies.
The Notes customer service application was developed to manage the inbound telephone calls for complaints and concerns. When a call is taken, the complaint or concern is entered into the Notes database, a priority level is assigned, an action to be taken is proposed, the action is forwarded to the appropriate person for approval, and Notes automatically sends a letter to the citizen providing status on the action. Notes provides the City Administrator and other staff members with the appropriate security access to sort and view the complaints in a variety of ways. "If a citizen calls with an inquiry, Notes enables the staff member to perform an online search in the Notes database and provides the citizen with an immediate response," explained Verwolf. "This capability not only saves our staff time, but is enabling us to better serve the citizens of Monroe."
The Notes Permit Tracking database provides information on City building and sign permits. Users can view permits individually, or, at the end of each month, the total number of permits handled by the office can be viewed by type, total cost, etc. The City processes approximately 40 permits a month, and the numbers are increasing dramatically. The City processed 250 permits last year, and anticipates that it will handle approximately 600 building and sign permits in the coming year. "We've customized the system to fit the City's specific processes," said Tom Drummond, national sales director for Datahouse, Inc.
Enhancing Internal Efficiency for External Effectiveness
The Lotus Notes system provides the City of Monroe's staff with easy access to timely information, a tool allowing for better communications, and a way to automate processes. The system saves the staff time on administrative activities and enables them to spend more time managing the City and serving its citizens.
An example of a cost avoidance benefit of the system will be realized by the City with the implementation of the Permits Tracking application. As the number of permits increases, the City will not need to hire more employees for processing the documents. At an average salary and benefits of $53,000, the annual savings will be significant.
"The City is running its operations more like a smart business, enabling the staff to focus on providing better service to the citizens of Monroe, Washington," said Drummond.
Future Technology Plans
The City of Monroe will continue to enhance its internal productivity. With Notes, the City has the ability to become increasingly more efficient and effective by taking advantage of all the features of this robust set of tools. "As the City offices are able to conquer this cultural change, they will continue to improve service to the citizen," explained Drummond.
The City plans to "Work the Web" with the Lotus Domino interactive Web server technology, to create a City Web site and publish information from its Notes applications, directly to the site. "We would like to enable the public to complete applications for permits online and submit customer service requests, among other activities,"
Benefits of Lotus Notes
Implementing and utilizing Lotus Notes has improved the City of Monroe's performance across the board. Specifically, the City of Monroe has realized the following gains
as a result of implementing and utilizing Lotus Notes:
•Enhances communication and collaboration of information among the staff.
•Provides calendaring and scheduling capabilities, easing the coordination of scheduling meetings and coordinating projects.
•Enables users to perform an online search in a Notes database to provide the citizen with an immediate response to his or her inquiry.
•Provides the City's staff with easy accessto timely information.
•Enables the staff to automate administrative tasks with on-line workflow and report generation, and spend more time managing the City and serving its citizens.