June 30, 1997 By Tod Newcombe
The reengineering, imaging and workflow has had two major impacts on the department and the county. First, the new system has cut the time it takes to approve a license from as long as 120 days to less than 45 days. In fact, the department is so confident of its turnaround time, it automatically approves any license that isn't processed within 45 days. Second, the new system has boosted revenue tremendously. During fiscal year 1990-1991, the department collected $112 million in business license fees. In 1996, it collected $200 million. "We attribute half of the growth to new business in the valley," explained Cartron, "and the rest to the new system."
Cartron added that all the growth in business licensing has come without any increase in resources. "With reengineering, our resources are better aligned to the business process," he said. "As a result, we haven't needed to add resources to the system."
Cartron attributes the system's success to Director Jorgensen's determination to introduce change to the department and to Integris' ability as an integrator. "They matched software to our process, rather than try and whittle and change our process to match a particular brand of software," he said.
Now that technology and change are part of the work culture at the Department of Business License, plans are under way to use technology to put licensing out where the businesses are. With Clark County larger than the state of Massachusetts, many business customers have to travel long distances to apply for a license.
One project places touch-screen kiosks in key locations around the county. The kiosks will help process applications and, with a credit card reader, accept payments. Another project will enable businesses with access to the Internet to fill out an application online.
Cartron admitted that the county took a bit of a gamble with the project. "As far as we knew, no one in government had reengineered and integrated a mainframe imaging and workflow system back in 1992, when we first looked into the matter," he said. But the department made sure the odds were in its favor by combining innovation with hard work.
Cartron credits the integration of Clark County's mainframe with imaging and workflow as one of the keys to the system's success. Prior to imaging, information concerning payments made for licensing fees was never up-to-date. The mainframe listed them as "out of business" and license fees ceased to be collected.
Now, payment information is kept current, thanks to workflow and Microsoft's Access, a relational database program which downloads the data from the mainframe on a daily basis. Investigators download the information into their notebook computers and then head into the field to go after businesses that haven't paid their license fees.
The imaging and workflow client/server system uses nine servers running UNIX and OS/2 on a Token Ring, Novell network. Software includes Imaging X, Action Workflow and Microsoft's SQL Server, as well as a host of office automation tools. The system has a 100-seat license. Workstations are a combination of 486 and Pentium PCs with 32MB of RAM and either CTX 17-inch or Cornerstone 21-inch monitors. Images are stored on a Hewlett-Packard 200T 88-disc optical jukebox.
The system's original cost was $1.2 million.
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