Tennessee Housing

State Housing Agency Reduces Paper, Increases Efficiency With KnowledgeLake Solution

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) works with partners to provide housing for moderate- and low-income families in the state. To increase efficiencies and comply with a state mandate to cut paper consumption, the agency deployed a KnowledgeLake ECM solution on top of Microsoft SharePoint.

BUSINESS NEEDS

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) is a government organization that promotes the production of affordable housing throughout the state for moderate- and low-income families. It offers a broad portfolio of housing assistance programs and works with a network of industry and municipal partners to deliver new homes.

Over the past several years, THDA management saw the need to reduce the amount of paper generated by its activities, such as customer applications, financial forms, and contracts and communications with its partners.

tennessee-housing-development-agency-300x103

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency was established by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1973 to help provide housing for moderate- and low-income families. The agency is headquartered in Nashville.

www.thda.org

Nashville

Government

“We needed to reduce our paper footprint, not only to create space, but also to provide for a more secure way to store important work documents that might be damaged and permanently lost in a fire, flood, or other natural disaster,” says Nicole Lucas, Director of Information Technology for the agency. “We also recognized that by taking paper documents from filing cabinets, digitizing them, and then moving the documents into an electronic repository, our essential and business critical work documents could be accessed from anywhere in the event that the agency’s work locations were compromised or temporarily unavailable.”

THDA decided to develop a centralized scanning process that would allow for consistent and controlled storage of all agency documents. Individual departments had developed their own standards for identifying and storing documents, but these processes needed to be revised in order to create a truly unified and centralized enterprise content management (ECM) solution that could operate within the organization’s existing Microsoft SharePoint intranet.

"With the KnowledgeLake solution, we were able to achieve consistency in the way all documents are stored and retrieved, and we can enforce retention schedules."

-Nicole Lucas, Director of Information Technology, Tennessee Housing Development Agency

SOLUTION

THDA officials visited the Kentucky Housing Corporation in the state next door to view how they managed their electronic documentation, and decided to use the same solution: KnowledgeLake ECM products running on SharePoint.

“After viewing the Kentucky Housing Corporation solution, we saw that using KnowledgeLake would be our best option because only minimal modifications would be needed to integrate it with our existing SharePoint system,” says Crystal Canaday, THDA’s Electronic Content Specialist. “It also made sense from a systems integration standpoint. It would be easier for our existing housing application software vendors to integrate with SharePoint’s repository than with other ECM providers such as Filenet.”

The THDA deployed a number of KnowledgeLake products, including KnowledgeLake Imaging for SharePoint, KnowledgeLake Capture for SharePoint, and KnowledgeLake Connect for SharePoint. These products combined provide a broad range of functions, including the ability to view, annotate, and search for documents; perform batch scanning of paper documents; and upload and access electronic documents directly from common business applications like Microsoft Office. The agency uses Fujitsu fi-6800 series scanners, which are high-volume, color duplex-capable devices.

Each division in the agency is responsible for preparing all files— including populating documents with bar codes embedded with metadata—prior to sending them to the THDA ECM team. The ECM team then reviews each document before scanning, indexing, and releasing each document to SharePoint.

BENEFITS

With the KnowledgeLake ECM solution, the THDA has a streamlined and organized system that allows employees to quickly find documents when they need them. The staff now has more flexibility because they can access files from anywhere. The solution is also helping the THDA comply with state legislation mandating that government agencies reduce the amount of physical paper they consume.

A Streamlined Document Management System

Lucas says the KnowledgeLake ECM solution has been a boon for easy identification of documents with standardized indexes. “Because we work with several different federal and state programs, our organization can look like many different businesses instead of one entity,” she says. “With the KnowledgeLake solution, we were able to achieve consistency in the way all documents are stored and retrieved, and we can enforce retention schedules. There are no more files building up and waiting to be purged. Now it’s automatic.”

She adds that the ECM solution will also allow THDA to eventually create data warehousing and executive portals—initiatives that were previously out of the question due to the variation in how documents were stored.

More Flexibility for Staff

Telecommuting for staff members was difficult in the past due to regulations that restricted physical paper files from leaving the buildings where they were stored. Now THDA employees can log in remotely, which delivers flexibility for employees that can save them time and money. “The ability to telecommute has been a dream of mine for a long time, but I was unable to because files were not allowed to be taken from the office,” says Gina Burroughs, Senior Quality Management Coordinator for the agency’s internal auditing group. “Electronic storage of files lets us take advantage of the THDA’s telecommuting policy. Now I can work from home without distraction, and can eliminate the commute a couple of days a week, which saves me time and gas money.”

Enhanced Compliance to State Regulations

The state of Tennessee passed legislation that requires all state agencies to reduce the amount of paper that they retain by 15 percent a year—a regulation that is now easier for the THDA to comply with using the KnowledgeLake ECM solution. “Using the KnowledgeLake ECM solution and Microsoft SharePoint, we’ve been able to reduce our paper load, which helps us meet the state mandate, while cutting down on the costs related to leased space for storage,” says Debra Murray, THDA’s Director of Operations.

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