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Sheboygan County, WI, Going Paperless

August 7, 2012
Original Publication : August 2, 2012 by Andrew Bayliss
sheboyganpress.com

In an attempt to save both time and money, the Sheboygan County administration is in the process of switching to a paperless system, with a goal of fully implementing the system by the end of October.

“We’re always looking at ways to improve what we do at the county. We explored the idea of utilizing paperless technology to streamline our processes,” Sheboygan County Finance Director Terry Hanson said.

Hanson said the switch would cost the county about $35,000 per year. However, he said that after the system was fully implemented, the annual savings would be around $70,000 per year, so the county would net an annual savings of about $35,000.

The switch would automate the process of county board meetings, including an electronic voting system that would utilize iPads. Hanson said it would also reduce the amount of time taken and the cost of preparing the paper documents necessary at meetings by making those electronic as well.

Hanson said going paperless has been on the county’s agenda for quite some time, and the 2012 budget finally had resources available to explore and begin making the switch. The exact time period for making the full switch is unknown. Hanson said the goal is October, but anytime before the end of 2012 would be ideal.

County Board Chairman Roger Te Stroete said much of the board and some county employees have not had a complete look at the new system yet, but added that “anytime we can use technology to save ourselves some money, that’s a good thing.”

His main concern was the stress going paperless could cause for people who are less technically savvy.

“Some of our group is more technically savvy than others. I don’t know to what extent we’ll be able to have the whole group to that point (of being ready for the switch), and that’s going to be part of the decision as to when we make the switch,” Te Stroete said.

Hanson shared Te Stroete’s thoughts, saying the toughest part of going paperless would be the transitional period, when all county employees would have to adapt to a new way of doing their jobs. However, he also said the new computer system is user-friendly and intuitive. He said incorporating iPads would make it easier for employees to catch on to the system.

Hanson said the county clerk’s office will be busy and involved in the training that county administration employees will receive prior to making the switch. Hanson said the departments going paperless will have training, and some committees that are going paperless will have training as well.

Hanson said he thinks going paperless will save the county board supervisors a lot of time because they will always have documents ready and available, and they will no longer have to lug around budget books.

IQM2 is the meeting portion of the new software that allows for “intelligent meeting management,” Hanson said. It allows for users to electronically submit agendas, automatically create an agenda from an outline, publish packets to the web, automate the minute-taking and publish the minutes to the web.

“In the long run, we’ll look back and think that this was a wise move for the county,” Hanson said.

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