Plante Moran hired to review, expand records management capabilities

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published August 27, 2019

File photo by Deb Jacques

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — In 2015, Clinton Township officials worked their way further into the digital age of record keeping.

Now the system is more than just a document storehouse.

On Aug. 12, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the hiring of Plante Moran, at a cost not to exceed $10,000, to review a request by the Clerk’s Office to hire an additional records analyst.

The project background, as described in an Aug. 5 letter from Plante Moran to the township, consists of supporting the rollout of the township’s electronic document management system — Laserfiche — to departments other than just the Clerk’s Office.

Plante Moran will essentially conduct an independent review of the implementation of the software on numerous departments, while simultaneously evaluating the short- and long-term workloads of the Clerk’s Office in relation to current staffing levels.

That includes conducting at least eight interviews with staff groups to identify department-specific utilization, requirements, security measures and infrastructure, and the feasibility of a resident portal.

Currently, records analyst Stephanie Cheung compiles content from numerous arenas: inventory, analysis, planning and application migration.

Trustee Ken Pearl said during the meeting that Plante Moran has expertise in this subject due to working with other communities that possess similar software and record management systems. He suggested that Clerk Kim Meltzer review best practices before moving forward in a bigger fashion.

“(Plante Moran is) very familiar with that, as a consulting group, and I think they should offer some good insight on where we’re at, where we’re going to be going, in addition to finding out where we want to go with the system,” Pearl said Aug. 12.

Meltzer said Laserfiche is more than just a repository. It can create business processes and forms that make goals like accountability and transparency achievable. It also limits redundancies in work products.

She said the software has led to progress in her office, where duplicate documents have decreased while returns for processes and requests have increased. Currently, there are about 4 million documents in the system.

The clerk sees an “exploding” opportunity for the township, signifying a “great time to change” — even as big elections are on the horizon in 2020, including presidential primaries and local, statewide and national elections in November.

Meltzer said that when Laserfiche was purchased in 2015, it was meant to be utilized around elections. Little by little, however, limitations occurred because different departments became too busy “juggling” and “managing.”

The process has arrived at its current point, where other departments and aspects of daily township activity — such as digital payments through “Point and Pay” in the Treasurer’s Office — can benefit from the software.

However, only Cheung is doing this right now. If she left her position, or if public records became “hijacked,” it would create more headaches rather than eliminate them.

“I’m thinking long term, and I’m thinking an additional records analyst would help make it seamless and we could work through this process seamlessly without any interruptions,” Meltzer said.

She said Clinton Township has gone “above and beyond” what other communities are doing. A goal of hers and other board members involves making the software accessible to all township residents, and not just to employees and department heads, via a public portal.

Currently, the township’s Information Technology Department has expressed caution over this particular rollout. But Meltzer believes it will eventually come to fruition.

“Security is a very critical part of when we will get this rolled out to the public,” she said.

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