By: Lauren Jackson
Digital workplace solutions are essential to seamlessly connect employees to each other and provide them with the resources and information they need to work more efficiently. Enabling a digital-forward workplace through process automation empowers municipalities to improve key business processes, leverage data and analytics to gain insights into growth opportunities and become more agile to support changing work environments.
Westbank First Nation redefined work by automating and digitizing their internal processes to accelerate service delivery to its citizens and enable public services innovation.
Located in south central British Columbia, Canada, Westbank First Nation (WFN) is one of eight Okanagan Nation communities, comprised of five reserves totaling approximately 5,340 acres. There are approximately 855 Westbank First Nation members, the majority of whom reside on the reserve along with 9,000 non-member residents. The First Nation has implemented one of the most comprehensive sets of community laws in Canada that cover the development and regulation of reserve lands. Through its administration, Westbank First Nation operates several important community services including daycare and preschool services at Westbank Child Development Centre, a multi-denominational church, and Sensisyusten House of Learning, a kindergarten to grade six elementary school.

Making the move from manual to automated process

The Westbank First Nation government comprises about 200 staff members who serve a population of 10,000 residents. WFN needed to address silos between departments and improve efficiency with internal requests, which involved many manual tasks that were tedious and cumbersome. The organization sought to automate and digitize their processes and archive its existing paper records in storage to enhance the experience of accessing services for both employees and members. After exploring all of the options, WFN selected an enterprise content management (ECM) system to meet their needs. Since the implementation more than a decade ago, WFN has worked with Ricoh to expand its digital transformation efforts by adopting workflow management applications and forms management to automate business processes and utilize metadata to improve reporting and turnaround times.
Today, with Ricoh’s support, WFN has effectively leveraged their ECM system for numerous internal processes across departments, streamlining approvals and records management through automated document routing. In addition to time savings, benefits also include being able to efficiently conduct contact tracing efforts during the onset and peak of COVID-19; and the flexibility to continue addressing community health and safety through incident reporting.

Establishing a digital foundation

WFN manages over 4,400 properties, which requires intensive property tax documentation processes. From early on, WFN recognized the need for a more efficient records management system. Most of its vital records management and property tax documents relied on off-site filing, resulting in substantial fuel surcharges to store and retrieve boxes. Seeing an opportunity to improve compliance, transparency and efficiency, WFN explored ways to digitally transform the way the organization managed these documents. “The repository grew from managing meeting minutes and policies into managing working documents and case files,” said Chad Rota, Records and Information Management Supervisor, Westbank First Nation. “We really experienced an organization-wide transformation — department by department.”
Today, the organization uses their ECM system to process all documents related to each property tax folio digitally, and automatically store them in a centralized location, eliminating lost files by making them easily searchable. The process now requires less paper, which originally required five floor-to-ceiling shelves containing over 4,000 folders to store! Now, there are only a few small folders for processing documents that either need to be scanned weekly or mailed out to residents – what a difference. As the organization grew, file storage rooms were converted into functional workspaces. It’s a win – win!

Increasing administrative efficiency and elevating the employee experience

The organization recognized that internal requests, such as employee change notifications and reports, could also be digitized and automated, reclaiming time for employees who were manually managing files being passed between departments. “We really needed a way to improve monitoring and transparency to streamline these submissions,” said Rota. WFN also implemented a Ricoh-provided which enables forms to be edited digitally without being passed between departments for amendment and approval. This fully digital process has increased efficiency and boosted employee satisfaction as requests are resolved more rapidly. Additionally, the request portal is hosted using electronic forms which can be easily modified and updated with newly available resources. “Being able to access everything in one central location has empowered staff to become more independent and self-sufficient,” Rota said.

Prioritizing employee health and safety

In addition to creating a long-term digital culture, Ricoh has provided WFN with a high-level view of working conditions for its employees, improving health and safety when it matters most. If an incident occurs on-site, employees can complete a dedicated form which is automatically forwarded to WFN’s occupational health and safety advisor, while notifying the director of the submission. The system generates a corrective action task, prompting a discussion about the cause of the individual incident and preventative measures. In addition to metadata based on the location and department of the incident, WFN can leverage advanced reporting tools to identify health and safety trends and make more informed, data-driven decisions to improve conditions for specific locations. This system also helps support compliance requirements in terms of policy development as WFN submits annual reports to regional and national governing entities in Canada. Now, employees can extract relevant information from incident responses and complete these forms more quickly and accurately. Additionally, during the early stages of the pandemic, WFN also used their ECM solution to support contact tracing efforts, developing a dedicated form for employees entering the premises in order to comply with British Columbia’s health reporting requirements – eliminating the need for specific Health and Safety software.

Understanding organizational priorities

Through their partnership with Ricoh Canada, WFN has been able to establish replicable solutions that can be applied to a variety of processes enabling WFN to optimize its resources while empowering employees to be more independent and less reliant on paper files. Documents can be retrieved in seconds, allowing employees to work far more efficiently and take more ownership over core processes. Achieving such substantial savings in time and resources has translated to reduced operational costs and headcount allocations, allowing the organization to run more efficiently.
To learn more about Ricoh Digital Document Management, Electronic Forms and Process Automation click here or get in touch with a Ricoh representative today.