The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District stored paper files for ten years in binders in a separate storage facility. Each file search took several productive lab hours out of the personnel’s work schedule. The ECS Team implemented a Business-Critical SharePoint solution through connecting SharePoint 2013 with existing Line-of-Business systems to improve visibility, productivity, and compliance.
Eagle River Water & Sanitation District (District) is a local government entity responsible for the public water systems and wastewater treatment system that serve communities in the eastern half of Eagle County, Colorado. The District’s service area encompasses approximately 54,000 acres in Eagle County.
In the Eagle River Lab Department, the testing laboratory of the District, manual data entry, hand-written forms, and traditional phone/email communication dominated business processes in the past. They utilized standalone hardware instruments to provide sample test results. Original electronic bench sheets were printed each day for each test. The analyst manually entered the data on the printed bench sheet, entered the data on the electronic calculation sheet, printed the sheet, entered or parsed the data into their lab system (LIMS), and filed all paperwork in a binder. These binders were stored in the lab offices for three years. Then they were packed into banker boxes and moved to a standalone storage structure located fifteen miles from the lab facility to keep them for seven more years, as required by the State of Colorado Special Districts Records Retention Schedule. In order for lab personnel to retrieve data stored here, a portion of their paid time had to be sacrificed to leave important lab business activities and drive to the storage. Items related to each record were stored in binders which made it difficult to find the right information when required. Employees had to un-pile boxes and search through stacks of paper within these boxes by hand.
The District selected ECS Team, and KnowledgeLake to implement a Business-Critical SharePoint solution. The goals were to surface Line-of-Business (LOB) data through SharePoint 2013, create a standardized, organization-wide system record management system, improve search, and automate business processes. SharePoint was directly integrated with LIMS via ODBC call. An Enterprise Search Center was also deployed along with KnowledgeLake Search.
Eagle River Water and Sanitation District had purchased SharePoint prior to the implementation of this solution but employees were only familiar with its functionality through research and demonstrations. The critical lab LOB system, LIMS was integrated with SharePoint to incorporate key lab information as metadata in SharePoint. This lab metadata would then be used for information management and retrieval, improving business-critical processes.
In order to automate the lab’s business processes, first the existing manual processes had to be analyzed. Notebooks, Excel spreadsheets, and handwritten notes were reviewed. All interfaces, application components, hardware components and software services were identified. Through the use of functional decomposition the ECS Team identified multiple interfaces and data points that needed to be integrated with SharePoint in order to develop an end-to-end automated process. The service decomposition was used to develop the foundational architecture, which was developed in SharePoint 2013 and integrated with KnowledgeLake.
Through the Business-Critical SharePoint solution, the District was not only able to create a new procedure that removed the need to manually collect, store, and search for raw data, but also improve productivity and decision-making. “The whole process has given us a cutting edge skill set, not only from software tools, but in how we think about records, information and data organization.”
More Educated Decision-Making
Business owners now have visibility into the complexity of the lab department’s day-to-day activities. In turn they understand how automation changed the way they performed their daily duties. They are able to make better business decisions with more accurate and up-todate data.
Shipping, storage, document retrieval, and searching costs will be significantly reduced. Future records management, storage and searching will be done electronically within SharePoint 2013. Employees won’t need to waste time
anymore driving to the storage facility, looking through piles of paper to look for certain files.
Integrated Silos of Data
Nine separate interfaces were identified and were integrated into the solution as part of this effort. Business owners are now more knowledgeable about their
business, which further helps decision-making.
Multiple workflows were also created to manage records and documents that were imported into SharePoint. Functionality included transformation of records, as well as notifications, approvals and on demand archiving. This helped cut down on manual data entry, duplication of effort, and errors. “Automation changed the way we perform our day to day duties, spending more time on productive work instead of paperwork,” says Collins.
Now with the solution provided to the District, the bench sheet and the calculation sheet have been merged into one electronic document. The analysts use a tablet to enter data directly into the new electronic sheet. This document can be directly uploaded into LIMS and directly into SharePoint for document storage. This change has reduced redundancy of multiple documents with the same information and multiple data entry steps.
Clear Audit Trail
Audit readiness will be significantly improved because of the use of technology to manage, store and search for records and their related content. Retention requirements will be proven and related content to samples will be available on demand for a period of 10 years.
Decreased Business Risk
Risk management will be significantly improved by providing a far more secure and disaster proof solution for vital lab data. All paper documents containing vital data for regulatory compliance purposes were vulnerable as no backup copies existed. Any damage/destruction of these documents would result in total loss of lab data that is required for compliance with State regulations. The new system provides backup and disaster recovery solutions where none existed before.