Software integrations: Essential to Horry County’s IT strategy

Government building

More than a decade ago, Horry County had an ambitious goal: Replace all of its AS/400 applications.

An undertaking in itself, the South Carolinian county decided to make the most out of this transitional time by implementing OnBase to streamline content access.

Because staff were already learning new systems, officials wanted to make it easy for them to find needed information without having to learn another new process. Integrating OnBase with these line-of-business (LOB) applications made it possible.

“Our strategy was, since we were replacing all of these applications, let’s make it so our users don’t have to learn anything new,” said Tim Oliver, CIO of Horry County. “We set it up so there are hotkeys for indexing/scanning and retrieving documents. So for our users, they didn’t have to learn another new application. OnBase is behind the scenes giving them all of this power.”

Streamlines content access by eliminating information silos

By integrating with the county’s LOB applications, staff have access to all needed documents – regardless of what department created them.

Since everything the local government does is location-based, the county made one of its document keywords – or ways to search/find related content stored in OnBase – pin or location. Now, staff working in their LOB systems can type in that location number and receive a list of all content related to that point. For staff working in areas like permitting or public works, it means they can see all documentation associated with a specific point on a map, regardless of what department uploaded the content.

“It grew our strategy into no longer being siloed in the way we access information,” Oliver said. “That really became critical and important to us – it’s changing how we do business today.”

Instant info access helps saves lives

That change is evident in the way Horry County provides information to its first responders for emergencies. Within the 3 to 5 minutes they have to arrive on scene, OnBase on mobile applications provide them with access to all the information they need.

For instance, they can view photos from the Assessor’s Office when an assessor was out in the field. They can see sketches of new additions to buildings as well as floor plans. If it’s a commercial structure, they can view pre-plans with disaster information, shut-off valves and the location of hazardous materials.

It all plays a part in the county’s strategy to make this information available to those who need it, no matter their location, especially when every second counts. For example, if someone is trapped in a building during an emergency, first responders will instantly have the information they need to create the best rescue plan.

“We’re now making these documents available on mobile devices in times that are critical,” Oliver said. “And, because of the way we’ve written our application, our first responders don’t have to do anything – based on the incident type and location, OnBase automatically provides them with the documents that are pertinent to the call.”

Mobile integration yields 50 percent productivity boost

Horry County took its integration strategy even further, transforming the way it collects information for property records. What was once a paper-intensive process – involving assessors filling out property cards manually, bringing them back to the office and keying them into the system – is now done digitally.

While out in the field, assessors fill out property record cards in OnBase on their iPads. Because they’re capturing this content digitally, they now have the opportunity to also take pictures of all four sides of the structure as well as a building sketch. Once complete, they hit submit and all of the information is immediately sent back to the office for processing.

Last year, the Assessor’s Office only had budget to buy 10 of the 30 assessors iPads for work out in the field. However, the switch from paper has paid off.

“We noticed a 50 percent efficiency increase on iPad users versus paper users,” Oliver said. “That’s really exciting to see. It’s changing the way we do business at the county.”

Think enterprise integrations from the beginning

The positive change in business management was the direct result of having a solid software integration strategy in place – especially for its important systems like GIS and Azteca Cityworks. Oliver encourages those getting started with OnBase – or even thinking about implementing an enterprise content management system – to make sure they keep focused on their desired end result.

“Think outside of the box,” he said. “When you start your integrations development, take time to think about your endgame – making data accessible to everyone who needs it. Don’t just think of it in these silos of applications like the Assessor’s Office or permits, etc. Think of it holistically. If we hadn’t, our ability to deliver to staff and constituents would have been seriously impacted.”

And in the end, delivering the best constituent service is what it’s all about.

Katie Alberti has expertise in content services platforms and has been a contributor to the Hyland blog.
Katie Alberti

Katie Alberti

Katie Alberti has expertise in content services platforms and has been a contributor to the Hyland blog.

... read more about: Katie Alberti