Workflow Gets DMV Back In Gear

For the Kansas Division of Vehicles, workflow has made the difference between having an expensive imaging system for storing electronic documents and an effective information system that has virtually eliminated taxpayer complaints about service.

by / March 31, 1996
PROBLEM/SITUATION: Customer service was abysmal at the Kansas Division of Vehicles, due largely to the paper records kept for identifying problem drivers and restricting driving privileges.
SOLUTION: An imaging system equipped with workflow allowed the division to completely overhaul customer service, reduce customer complaints and generate cost savings.
JURISDICTION: Kansas Division of Vehicles.
VENDOR: FileNet.
CONTACT: Gary Carter, Bureau of Driver Control, 913/296-6894.

When then-Kansas Gov. Joan Finney approved funding in 1993 for a new imaging system for the state's Division of Vehicles, she told Betty McBride, director of the division, that she wasn't worried about the system's high cost or the possibility that some workers might lose their jobs. Rather, she was concerned whether the technology would actually help improve customer service.

"That was our number one priority," recalled McBride, not cost-saving or reducing the number of filing cabinets in the division. Today, that goal has been met, thanks to the division's diligent efforts at developing and implementing a document imaging system that provides workers with instant access to drivers' records.

McBride, who used to receive numerous phone calls every day from drivers with complaints, is lucky if she gets one or two taxpayer calls per week, none of which have anything to do with poor service. She credits the turnaround to the online availability of records and the imaging system's ability to speed up processing time. "We now have immediate and multiple access to driver records, reducing processing time and eliminating lost and misfiled records."

Prior to imaging, customer service at the Division of Vehicles was disappearing under a blanket of paper documents. Every day, the division processes as many as 4,500 pieces of mail. The documents, which identify problem drivers and restrict driving privileges, ended up in folders filed in one of 144 five-drawer filing cabinets.

With as many as five different people and departments handling a driver's record during the course of an investigation, keeping track of the records was not easy. Because the division receives as many as 3,000 calls per day from driver's inquiring about the status of their license, it sometimes took workers between seven and 10 days to track down an individual folder. By 1992, the division was receiving as many as 75 complaints per day, was allowing more than 1,500 incoming calls per day to go unanswered, and had a filing backlog that was nearly six months behind schedule. To determine the best way to turn things around, the division conducted a study with three different companies, all of which recommended using imaging technology as a solution.

With a sympathetic governor and state Legislature supporting her efforts, McBride received funding to build a $1.4 million document imaging system. In March 1993, the division awarded a contract to FileNet, based on their proposal involving workflow.

Imaging technology converts paper documents into electronic images, which can be stored and retrieved more efficiently in their digital format. Workflow technology takes the concept of factory automation and applies it to the work tasks, assisting the routing and management of documents in a company.

According to Gary Carter, bureau chief of driver control, a significant part of the project called for converting more than one million paper records into electronic images so that all existing records would be online when the system went into operation.

Work started with a pilot project in the Driver Review Section, which determines whether people with medical problems, such as poor vision, should have a driver's license. FileNet, using a subcontractor, converted approximately 100,000 records and then tested the system using workflow.

Once all the kinks were worked out with the pilot, conversion continued with the rest of the records until the entire system was ready by October 1993.

Today, 54 workers use the imaging system to handle four important applications: driver review and control, driver's licenses and car dealer licenses. Each day up to 15,000 documents are scanned into the system and are ready for processing within 24 hours.

The system automatically routes a record to the next available worker. When the document images come on screen, data from the driver's mainframe file appears in a window on the screen simultaneously. Based on the information in the document images, the worker posts an action to the mainframe -- usually a revocation or suspension of the driver's license -- and then moves on to the next case.

At night, all the data concerning the day's actions are downloaded from the mainframe to the imaging server where letters are generated. One copy of the letter is saved as an image to the driver's electronic file, the other is printed out for mailing the next day.

As for benefits, the system has already:

* Reduced the number of manual steps to process records from 27 to nine.
* Saved 30 hours per week searching for lost files.
* Saved 20 hours per week of clerical work.
* Reduced the average length of telephone inquiries from seven minutes to three minutes.
* Saved $227,000 in labor costs.
* Freed up 1,624 square feet of space.

According to an internal audit, the division's imaging system will pay for itself in five years. When plans were drawn up to digitize the state's drivers' licenses, cost estimates for a new system were $1.6 million. Instead, the division spent $100,000 to add the capability to the existing FileNet system.

In October 1995, the Division's Driver Control Bureau received the Silver Award in Imaging World magazine's annual top 100 customers and users competition.

According to McBride, the low-cost upgrade was no fluke. "We did a good job designing a system that could expand for future applications," she said. "From the beginning we designed the original system as always having the capability of being a division-wide system."

What made the project such a success? McBride credits the partnership forged between the division and FileNet, and the fact that the division, not the vendor, determined what the system was going to do for the workers. Carter agreed. "We were unwilling to settle for anything less than what we wanted," he said.

Another reason for the system's success was the involvement of the users during the design, development and implementation of the system. "We started from day one selling the system to the users," said Carter. The way to do that is not to try and hide any problems from them. "We met with the users on a daily basis and encouraged their involvement and input," he explained. Added McBride: "Everybody bought off on the project. They really felt that they were part of the success story."


The Kansas Division of Vehicles' document imaging system consists of:

* Three FileNet scanners (two duplex, one simplex)
* One optical disc jukebox containing 12-inch discs
* Two FileNet servers
* Four printers
* 54 workstations

The entire system runs on an Ethernet network and has a Token Ring connection which provides access to the mainframe where the drivers' data files are located. FileNet software was used for the imaging applications, the workflow and the databases.

System Cost: $1.4 million

Contract signed: March 1993

System Installed: October 1993