Our goal is to reduce the number of clicks for our co-workers
From data entry to quality control, recent years have seen a shift in the kind of work performed by the Data & Information team at the Municipality of Utrechtse Heuvelrug. Whereas for years their work mostly involved inputting data, it now mainly concerns checking for quality. This represents a new way of working that leaves more time for what truly matters.
The Municipality of Utrechtse Heuvelrug was founded in 2006 during a municipal reorganization, where the villages of Leersum, Doorn, Amerongen, Driebergen-Rijsenburg, Maarn, Maarsbergen and Overberg were merged into a single municipality. From the very beginning, their offices were working with SmartDocuments' software, which had been passed down from the former municipal structure. It was welcomed with open arms and, to this day, it has proven to be a great asset to the municipality.
Heleen van Dokkumburg, Functional Management GreenValley, Corsa and SmartDocuments at the Municipality of Utrechtse Heuvelrug
An advantage in the midst of change
The city hall of the Municipality of Utrechtse Heuvelrug is situated in a wooded area in Doorn. "It’s such a treat to be able to ride through the woods to work every day," beams Heleen van Dokkumburg, functional manager at the municipality. Heleen has been involved with the municipality from the very beginning and has been working with SmartDocuments’ software for many years. When she first started her job, it was all still quite new.
Heleen: "I had taken a course with SmartDocuments before the reorganization. I was still working for a different municipality at that time. When my new co-workers and I started working at the Municipality of Utrechtse Heuvelrug in January of 2006, it was our first real experience with SmartDocuments. None of us had worked with it before."
A new municipality, new workplace and new co-workers. To top it all off, there was also a new software to reckon with. According to Heleen, that was actually an advantage: "When everything is different, you’re not rightaway going to notice that there is also a new software program to learn. Because everything is new. In the midst of so many changes, it didn't really come as much of a shock. One single isolated change can sometimes be more disruptive than a whole host of changes all at once."
"It’s great to be able to store all your documents in one single, centralized location. It means changes are also centralized. This helps keep the corporate identity consistent and avoids having everything scattered across different drives."
Maximize building blocks, minimize clicks
The Municipality of Utrechtse Heuvelrug essentially gets all of its documents from the SmartDocuments software, with only one exception. Heleen: "It’s great to be able to store all your documents in one single, centralized location. It means changes are also centralized. This helps keep the corporate identity consistent and avoids having everything scattered across different drives." As the functional manager, Heleen grants and revokes permissions, fitting to the situation. She links SmartDocuments to other systems where needed, creates templates and advises her co-workers on the system. In addition, she also makes sure that everyone is using building blocks whenever possible. "Our goal is to reduce the number of clicks for our co-workers," explains Heleen. Years ago, changing an account number could be a very time-consuming affair, as you had to update each document manually. Then SmartDocuments provided the municipality the solution. "SmartDocuments makes it quick and easy to change default data in all of the documents. Whether it’s an account number or a font, when you update a building block, the system applies the change to every template linked to that building block," she explains.
Castle Amerongen during the winter
Because everyone in the municipality is familiar with SmartDocuments, they don’t usually experience minor changes and updates in the system as a hindrance. Everyone knows their way around SmartDocuments, so they typically manage to adapt to changes in the software quickly.
"However, for the transition to SmartDocuments Web two years ago, we really had our work cut out for us," admits Heleen. This transition, the most recent major change, saw its fair share of snags along the way. Heleen: "It didn’t make much of a difference when it came to creating templates. It was mainly about getting used to the system. For example, the new way of logging in, which did pose a challenge for our co-workers in the beginning. The minor issues that popped up were quickly resolved. Yet, at the end of the day, the users didn’t notice the overall transition at all, which I think is the most important thing."
The SmartDocuments software is now linked to the case management system. For users, this means they do not have to log in to SmartDocuments, just into their own (familiar) case management system.
A grand exit for data entry
The link to the case management system has reduced manual data entry to a minimum. "If, for instance, a resident of our municipality applies for an event permit, it appears in the case management system. The system immediately adds the available information and delivers a fully formatted document, including the decision, to the designated employee. There isn’t much left for the employee to do. The content is there, and the template is correct. Now the answers just need to be checked, after which the letter can be sent to the applicant as a fully valid, legal document. It can also be sent digitally, if preferred," Heleen points out.
"The content is there, and the template is correct. Now the answers just need to be checked, after which the letter can be sent to the applicant as a fully valid, legal document."
Popping in for a visit
Heleen: "We’ve been working with SmartDocuments for a very long time now. We know each other well and the lines of communication are short. Personally, I think it’s an excellent partnership." One contributing factor here is that the collaboration is not just remote. People from SmartDocuments also actually ‘pop in’ for a visit at the municipality. During the implementation process, consultants were also on hand at the office in Doorn to offer advice as well as to train municipal staff. "The fact that people from SmartDocuments were here physically was a major plus to me," emphasizes Heleen.
BeingSmart: a behind-the-scenes look
Since September of this year, Heleen has been the chairperson of the SmartDocuments usergroup, BeingSmart, a role that she is delighted to have: "I love being close to the action, getting to know my peers and being involved outside of my own position. As the chairperson of BeingSmart, I have the chance to become a volunteer advocate."
For Heleen, BeingSmart is a great network and an excellent opportunity for peers to learn from each other. She especially enjoys getting a look behind the scenes: "The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. All organizations have their issues."
Members of the usergroup have the chance to contribute their ideas on the SmartDocuments software. Heleen: "We get to submit our requests for the development of the SmartDocuments software. You can usually do this as a client with other providers as well, but SmartDocuments actually does something with the ideas."
"We get to submit our requests for the development of the SmartDocuments software. You can usually do this as a client with other providers as well, but SmartDocuments actually does something with the ideas."
Tackling truly complicated matters
It is no secret that Heleen would like to continue the partnership with SmartDocuments in the future. "I’m happy with our current collaboration and hope it continues. I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t," muses Heleen. She’s looking forward to plenty of exciting developments that will make her work even easier, allowing her and her co-workers to increasingly focus on tackling the truly complicated matters. Heleen: "Our ultimate goal is to provide the best possible service to our residents. That’s what we’re here for."