Do Your Processes Contain too Much Red Tape?

No one likes dealing with red tape. Imagine how it feels for a resident to navigate a simple records request. Most agencies use a short webform. Others, however, ask residents to use a complex process that may start with a web form but then request more and more data. It also happens with your internal clients. Approvals require more approvals, and no one remembers why. At CPS, we see this frequently when reimagining workflows with clients. However, sometimes, the client doesn't realize how unwieldy the process has become until they test it themselves. Understandably, some data needs to be collected, but when you ask for seven pieces of supporting documentation to be uploaded, You may have jumped the shark.

The city of Auckland once had a 55 (no, not kidding) step process to request the repair of a park bench. After the initial report, the other 54 steps were internal for the maintenance crew. Eventually, realizing they could not proceed in this manner, they hired some outside consultants who worked with them to carve out the ten most critical steps (and was kicked off with a mobile app) and automate them. So, it is apparent that staff members need to be careful of their self-inflicted red tape. Is your team weighed down by unnecessary review and approval SOPs, or the need to document and justify every finding and recommendation — even if department heads agree with them?

It's easy to fall into the trap of asking for too much data when the first impulse is to replicate the paper process exactly. This is precisely the wrong approach. Often controls and procedures are outdated or put in place to mollify the guy in accounting who insisted on printing every document and using a wet signature—conversely, some of this "extra" data's cost more than it is worth. Including frustrating and aggravating the residents, and internal clients you are trying to service.

There's a definite art to designing your metadata scheme, not too much or too little. In Laserfiche, metadata is entered or auto-populated into template fields, just as a resident fills a form or a staff member imports a document. The same goes for templates; how many unique templates do you require? From the user perspective, more inputs= more red tape. When designing your metadata scheme and business processes, consider not only the cost (even if only time spent) of a process but the time it takes. Does it mean that a response to a potential issue is delayed or that a possible opportunity to go over and above is lost? CPS can lead you to make appropriate changes and streamlining. If you are a VIP support client, we offer a yearly system check (system check), an audit of your Laserfiche systems. We frequently make recommendations for metadata and automation in the sys check to help increase systems, forms, and workflow efficiencies. Hence, cutting red tape.

For municipalities, cutting red tape in forms and processes is a win for simplifying citizens' access to their government and making it easier for staff to do their jobs. Please let me know how I can help. Contact me at