Florida Marine Transporters (FMT) is one of the country's largest independent, privately-held marine transporters. The organization transports dry, liquid, and petroleum products up and down the Mississippi River and intercoastal waterways, and they have over a hundred boats with nearly a thousand employees. They purchased Laserfiche in 2013 and quickly determined that enterprise content management was scalable, extensible, and just plain useful. Laserfiche wrote a compelling piece about FMT's year one implementation. You can find that here.
We heard from Claude that they were doing some cool things with Laserfiche Forms and Workflow, so we checked back in with Jenny Trahan, the software analyst in the Compliance/IT Department. Jenny is the "Laserfiche person" for FMT, and she was kind enough to take some time out of her busy day to speak with us.
What was your starting point with Laserfiche?
I joined Florida Marine in 2014, about a year after the initial implementation. When I started, they had built a handful of simple forms. This began recreating existing paper forms in Laserfiche to eliminate paper and increase efficiency.
You must be a quick learner!
I quickly caught on to Laserfiche; however, I received comprehensive in-person training from Joe Mempin. As I increased my knowledge and skills, I've needed his help less often. I can remember when I could only create a basic form. Learning database lookups and Workflow was game-changing. My scope has really grown. At this point, I have my Laserfiche Gold Certification.
Please give us an example of a Laserfiche Form you've created?
Right now, we have over 200 forms (writer note: WOW!). Safety Meetings and Drills Forms was one of the first forms I created. Our industry is highly regulated. I'm working with wheelhouse employees (Pilots, Captains), and they need to hold regular safety drills and meetings and then document the fact that they held them. Let's say it's time for a drill. The Captain logs in to Laserfiche and locates and initiates the form. The forms have been designed to be user-friendly and populate data using basic lookups. After they complete the drill and submit the form, LF Workflow sends an email that they print out and have the crew sign. The original signatures are required to comply with Coast Guard regulations. They upload all signed emails to us at the end of the year.
We don't let employees enter data directly into template fields. We use Forms because there's less margin for error. Plus, it's a user-friendly way to capture and document the information we must maintain.
I read in the previous article that Laserfiche helped ease data entry for you?
Yes, we used to have 3 ½ people doing data entry. Now we are down to 1 ½. We saw an improvement at the end of the year when the boats would mail in all their paperwork. Previously, it took months to input the data into the system. Now they upload everything into Laserfiche.
How does Laserfiche work in your ecosystem? Do you have any integrations?
Our marine operations system has some document handling capabilities, but it's no Laserfiche. We don't currently have Laserfiche integrated with our other systems. We've moved some operating functions like cargo handling over to Laserfiche because it's so easy to use. It's just a matter of deciding where the process works best.
It sounds like you are highly responsive to your user's requirements; how do you take feedback and iterate?
We are at the point now that everyone knows we have Laserfiche, and they like it, so I get project ideas from various department heads, or we'll go to them with thoughts about a workflow or form. At our annual Captain's meetings, we get some of our ideas for tweaks and additions to existing forms. Plus, we’ve got a core group of Wheelman that will provide me with candid reactions to new or existing forms.
Tell me about audits since you are in such a highly regulated industry.
We follow TMSA (Tanker Management and Self Assessment) guidelines, including auditing as part of the KPIs. The Coast Guard performs audits, and so do some of our clients. Then, of course, we self-audit. Every vessel has a folder in Laserfiche. There might be 40 years worth of paperwork on a boat, and they want to see all of it. When the auditors come in, we show them where everything is and run whatever reports they require. We keep our CAPAs (Corrective And Preventative Actions) in Laserfiche.
How long do you have to keep records on a boat?
The retention for boat records is its lifetime, but we are working on getting retention schedules into Laserfiche. Some records have to stay paper, though, if the internet goes down.
What advice do you have for new Laserfiche Workflow clients?
Document the process! Get input and buy-in from management. Find out if they want reports and what kind of reporting will be helpful. Now I know what questions to ask, but that was a learning curve.
Also, question why you do process paperwork the way you do. That approach allows me to use Workflow to make things easier on the team.
Another thought is sometimes it's best to start over than add another few steps to a workflow. I look back at some of the workflows I created, and they are a little too complicated. I should have started from scratch.
If you had a magic button for Laserfiche, what would it do?
I want to be able to view all tasks by the user. It would be helpful if we have a new employee whose duties need to be reassigned. Right now, I have to go through every Workflow.
What's your experience with CPS been?
They were hands-on for my first few years. Joe Mempin would visit a couple of times a year onsite to train me and develop processes. Joe is a great mentor and resource for me. I try not to bombard him with questions and troubleshoot my issues, but sometimes I need to “phone a friend” and get a “second set of eyes” on an issue. I wish you could clone him.
Thank you, Jenny, this was great!
If you work in a highly regulated industry and want to learn more about how Laserfiche keeps you in compliance, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.