"At SmartDocuments, you’re more than just a number"
The municipalities of Heemstede and Bloemendaal are actually two separate municipalities, but they act as partners when it comes to IT. This cooperation helps foster a sound IT policy. ‘Stronger together’ is a very fitting motto here. Leuntje van Duijn and Irene Keehnen, employees involved in computerization and also known in their organizations as the SmartDocuments Team, are happy with the municipal partnership and the role that SmartDocuments plays in it.
For years, the Municipality of Heemstede and the Municipality of Bloemendaal each had their own separate automation department. That was until they decided to outsource their automation. When the decision was made to outsource both of their automation departments to the same provider, a partnership seemed to be the next logical step. The opinion was that a shared system was essential. Leuntje (Municipality of Heemstede): "An official partnership developed from the bottom-up. When we came together, one of the first requirements was that our automation departments had to be able to run the same programs. That was approved by the management team."
City hall Heemstede
Irene (Municipality of Bloemendaal): "When we decided to collaborate on automation, the Municipality of Bloemendaal had already been working with SmartDocuments software for several years. We had been working with the Corsa document management system for a long time. I created all the templates there. Years ago, we were approached by SmartDocuments, then called High Concept, about a potential collaboration. The SmartDocuments software was easy to link with Corsa, so it seemed like a good idea to bring SmartDocuments into the fold." This means the partnership between SmartDocuments and Bloemendaal stretches all the way back to 2007. The long-standing collaboration carried a lot of weight.
When the new partnership between Heemstede and Bloemendaal was formed, it was decided that the Municipality of Heemstede would also transition to the SmartDocuments software. Leuntje: "At the Municipality of Heemstede, we were using the DMS version. As mentioned earlier, when we started working together, we agreed to harmonize our automation departments. We wanted the same thing as Bloemendaal: SmartDocuments. This was partly because they already had so many templates. When the question came up of who wanted to handle creating templates in the new system, I raised my hand." Since then, Irene and Leuntje have been working together as the SmartDocuments Team, to their mutual benefit.
"It has loads of benefits. For example, if you need to edit something in a document, you can do it in one place."
Collaborating for faster solutions
The municipalities of Bloemendaal and Heemstede use the Professional Edition of SmartDocuments. This package contains an infinite number of elements, which they can use to create as many templates as they need. The software is linked to multiple systems, such as the Corsa document management system and the Mozard case management system, and now has over 400 users. Enough reason to keep a close eye. Irene: "It’s great to be working together now, instead of being off on our own separate islands. We meet once a week to see whether there are any matters that need looking into." Leuntje adds: "It’s nice to bounce ideas off each other. We can build a network together, and collaborating saves a great deal of time." Both agree that working together generally helps them find solutions faster for any issues that may occur. Irene: "While we used to struggle with issues on our own, we can now resolve them much more quickly together."
City hall Bloemendaal
From two systems to one
In the early days, each municipality worked within its own SmartDocuments environment. When the time came to transition to a newer version, it was possible to merge the two working environments. This of course brought all the usual hassle. Leuntje: "We made it easy on ourselves. For instance, Irene and I labelled all of our own templates." "You can also see which user belongs to which municipality," explains Irene. "What’s more, you can look at the assigned permissions to see who works for which municipality." When merging the two working environments, the municipalities enjoyed ample support from SmartDocuments, both remotely and on site. This was something that Irene and Leuntje appreciated very much. Irene: "It works to have everyone together, and someone from your own automation department is always ready to be there when something needs to be set up."
Working with SmartDocuments is now based on roles. Of course, just as with any partnership, everything needed to be harmonized. Uniformity is an important focus point for both municipalities. Leuntje: "Spellings needed to be harmonized. We have teams that only work for Heemstede or Bloemendaal, as well as collaborative teams that create documents."
SmartDocuments makes it easy
Both municipalities agree: SmartDocuments makes it easy. Irene: "It has many benefits. For example, if you need to edit something in a document, you can do it in one place. Another advantage is that you no longer need any printed stationery. The corporate identity is already applied to all documents."
Both agree that building blocks are the key to the process of document creation. Leuntje: "You should always work with a building block. When you change the block, the correct version instantly appears in all of your documents. For instance, I make buildings blocks for contact information, letterheads or reference numbers."
Irene: "We want to make it as efficient as possible for our colleagues, so they can use the link with SmartDocuments to store templates and files easily in Corsa." But the link with the Mozard case management system is also important. The ultimate goal is for everything to go through Mozard. Leuntje: "Mozard is our case management system. This system is also simply linked to SmartDocuments. Each case in the system is a file. You can make generic or case-specific templates for each case type."
Every system leaves something to be desired, and this one is no different. Leuntje: "During the merger, we thought it would be handy if, when making a letter for instance, employees of both municipalities could see it instantly visualized in the right corporate identity. In other words, in the right layout for the municipality where the employee works, with the system assigning the layout based on which case you open. Unfortunately, that’s currently not possible." Irene and Leuntje fully understand why this is not yet an option. Irene: "That kind of setting would make template management extremely complex. You don’t want that. After all, advising against something is also an answer."
"While we used to struggle with issues on our own, we can now resolve them much more quickly together"
Leuntje: "During the last upgrade, we requested a training session for a few specific new elements. Someone from SmartDocuments sat down with us for an entire day. Beforehand, he asked us what issues we were having. He went through the points with us one by one, resolving them where possible and referring the other points back to the head office." It is more than clear to both of them that SmartDocuments puts its clients first. The user platform BeingSmart is also a handy tool in their opinion. "If you run into a problem, you can search the platform to see if others have also experienced the issue. On the forum, you can ask questions and submit requests, or also chat with people from other organizations. For other issues, you get a quick response if you email or call the service desk," adds Irene.
"After all, advising against something is also an answer"
SmartDocuments in the workplace
Leuntje and Irene find the SmartDocuments software very user-friendly. "As with anything, it takes some time to get used to," explains Irene. "It just comes with a little experience. We took a training at SmartDocuments in Deventer, but once you’re back at your own office, you have to do it yourself."
By now the system is well integrated in the workplace. Irene: "It’s very convenient for users to not have to type out entire letters, and that formats are ready for you to use or edit." Leuntje sees the same reaction with her co-workers: "There’s a reason why my co-workers request templates so often. They really get a kick out of having the tool automatically fill in certain items when you assign the right properties to a form letter."
Both ladies confirm that some co-workers also struggle with the digital developments. According to Leuntje, they do eventually grow into it. "Automation is certainly a key topic nowadays," she notes. But the fact that you don’t have a choice in the matter also plays a role, Irene says: "If you want to save a document in Corsa, it has to be a registered document. You can only do that using the SmartDocuments software."
It’s a matter of just delving right in
Leuntje and Irene are excited about the capabilities of SmartDocuments. "It’s not a hard program to learn. It’s a matter of just delving right in. I think it’s fun to make templates, even the difficult ones. I’ve really learned to play around with the options in SmartDocuments," boasts Leuntje. "It does take a little time sometimes," admits Irene. "But you get that time back later, because then you already have the template ready to go," she adds.
Thanks to SmartDocuments, Leuntje, Irene and their co-workers have been able to boost their efficiency over the past few years. But it’s clear that customer-friendliness and an excellent collaboration also play a role. Leuntje: "SmartDocuments is very accessible. You’re more than just a number. We really appreciate the personal contact and prompt service." Now that both organizations have rolled out the Mozard case management system, they are busy adding more and more case types and templates. "We’ve got plenty of work ahead of us. With the way SmartDocuments is currently working, I don’t believe that we’ll be switching from their service any time soon," concludes Leuntje.