How to Work Smarter With Public Records

September 19, 2019 by Meredith Trimble

How to Work Smarter With Public Records

Records management can be cumbersome and complicated. From paper storage to customer service to historical records preservation, governments of any size can deal with mountains of paper and multiple human touches for even simple recording office tasks.

Peoria County, Illinois, was no stranger to these challenges. Compounding the everyday hurdles for records management staff was a 2016 elimination of the recorder’s office, with responsibilities moving to the jurisdiction of the clerk. Employees — and paper — merged.

Opportunity in Transition

The period of transition ultimately proved beneficial for the county. Not only did the merger reduce costs and streamline operations, the transition coincided with a replacement of the existing records management software, allowing everyone to start fresh together in a new system.

Today, the office that once staffed 10 employees to manage recordings now only needs four, with available personnel redirected to other areas of strategic importance for the county. New technology created significant efficiencies that gave staff new freedom, digitized historical records, and enabled the county to better serve constituents.

Empowered Staff

Employees have newfound freedom from prior rigid or linear processes. Staff work smarter every day, as they can define their own workflows and decide when, how, and who receives, records, scans, indexes, and verifies recording requests.

Residents can interact with just one employee and walk away with their documents in hand instead of waiting several days for them to be mailed back. This immediate customer service also reduces postage costs for the county and saves time spent on printing labels and handling paper mail. The recorded documents are also available via the county’s self-service online option in minutes, rather than days.

Better Service

Digitization of historical records, completed in special partnership with U.S. Imaging, has benefitted both constituents and title companies. The records — now scanned and indexed back to 1825 — are organized in a familiar and intuitive electronic folder structure. The software breaks down each index into smaller subsets making searching as easy as possible, especially when it comes to the county’s track index.

Title companies can find exactly what they need from any PC with internet access without sending staff out on road trips to the clerk’s office. The companies can also submit and record documents online from anywhere, at any time. The clerk’s office can either accept them or send them back for corrections with the click of a button. This is not only convenient for the title companies, it saves the clerk’s office time spent handling foot traffic and scanning documents.

The time gained through these efficiencies has allowed county staff to focus their efforts on higher-level tasks to better meet the county’s strategic priorities.

Learn more about how Peoria, Illinois, is working smarter in records management.

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