When Columbus, Ga., official Roy Reese was first tasked with developing and implementing the city's employee training program, he knew he would need the support of a robust information management system.
It had been 25 years since the city had conducted management training for general government workers. The public safety contingent had always had federal, state and local funding for training, but the lack of similar efforts in general government was beginning to show.
'The department decided on Compliance Suite™ Training Management Software by ESS because of the program's solid design and excellent database capabilities, and because it was part of a fully integrated suite,' said Mr. Reese, Director of the city's Department of Special Projects. 'We felt Compliance Suite™ offered a great deal of potential for us down the road and it turns out that is exactly what has happened. It met or exceeded all of our selection criteria and since then it has changed the way we do business. The organization has internalized the system to the point where it is now part of the enterprise operation.'
That initial selection process took place back in 1999. Today, both public safety and general government departments use the Training Management and Liability Claims programs. Back around the time that Compliance Suite™ was implemented, the city changed its LAN networking software and Compliance Suite™ handled the transition flawlessly, Mr. Reese said. He said the city is now in the process of implementing the suite's Audit Management and Safety Management programs.
When the city implemented the Liability Claims program, 14 years of legacy data from an obsolete, abandoned and fragile system was imported and no critical claims information was lost, Mr. Reese said.
One of the keys to gaining approval for adding the two new programs was using Compliance Suite itself to demonstrate for management the capabilities of a 'true relational database,' Mr. Reese said. During a meeting about what was planned for the two additional programs, he carved out a few minutes to show attendees some of Compliance Suite's utilities from the Training module.
'For example, we were able to click on a memo field and show them every e-mail that transpired in relation to a particular record, or go to the document tab and show them attachments that came with the different e-mails,' Mr. Reese said. 'We were able to pull up the training schedule that we had in the system, along with the evaluations for that training. In the case of our liability claims, we could show them vehicle accident photographs. Our accident investigators enter their reports directly and expedite the entire claims process.
'I think all of this helped them understand the power of this system,' he said. 'What we have is a virtually paperless environment housed in one central system, with easy point-and-click-type instant access. Compliance Suite™ is a very powerful system that will enable us to generate improved effectiveness and increased efficiency across our entire enterprise.'
Compliance Suite™ is the most cost-effective and full-featured information management software available for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recordkeeping, and meeting a wide range of reporting requirements. A short description of each program in use by the Columbus Consolidated Government follows:
Training Management - Organizes and manages every aspect of employee training, such as scheduling, conflict checking, printing certificates and much more.
Safety Management - Tracks injury, illness, first aid and near-miss incidents to meet record keeping and reporting requirements.
Audit Management - Streamlines audit, citation and corrective action paperwork, and allows users to design and implement custom observational or checklist audits while identifying the audit type to ensure accurate reporting.
Liability Claims Management - Helps keep track of these claims from discovery to trial. It records the details of insurance policies, vehicles and employees, and ensures cases are accurate and complete by tracking every component, including involved parties, claims and subrogation.
Easy, One-Time Data Migration
An existing database can be downloaded into Compliance Suite™ to save time and money. In addition, all of the programs share a common database, so entry of new data takes place only once, also reducing costs and the risk of error.
The Special Projects department brought in a college intern to handle the migration from the city's legacy claims system to Compliance Suite™. The student first moved data from about 15,000 cases into the Liability Claims program. Once that was completed, the student pulled about 6,000 workers' compensation claims from the database and migrated those into the Safety Management program. Reese estimated that the city saved about $200,000 in migration and legacy services by being able to handle the transition in this fashion.
Plans call for using Safety Management to bring administration of the city's workers' compensation program in-house, eliminating the cost of having an outside administrator. In addition, about three years of records the current administrator has will be migrated into Compliance Suite™ to give the city a complete up-to-date accounting of those records to ease the transition to in-house workers' compensation administration.
Uses for Audit Management include helping to monitor the use of city vehicles, provide emergency floor leaders checklists and a variety of facility and operations checklists, according to Mr. Reese. This module will eventually support the city's internal driving safety and discipline program.
The Training Management program is used by the Learning Center, the Sheriff's Department and the Police Department to actively manage a wide variety of in-house training. Courses, class and instructor schedules and training participant records are tracked, including programs through strategic training partnerships with the Institute of Government in Georgia. The Learning Center also serves as a regional training site for numerous state agencies that provide governmental training in field locations.
Power and Flexibility
The Muscogee County Sheriff's Office also has access to the system and has been using it for several years to coordinate all of its classes, and document compliance with the training requirements of the Department of Justice.
'They took one look at what we were doing and said, 'We have to have this.' Mr. Reese said. 'We sat down with them and planned the implementation so that the Sheriff's Department Training Division would have proprietary control over their data, and they're one of our power users now.'
Chris Stadler, a Microsoft-certified technical expert, manages the Compliance Suite™. He conducts all of the training relating to the software, operates the city/county Help Desk and provides MS Office training and 'process improvement' project support for departments, teams and individuals. The user departments are capable of doing the software training for the Compliance Suite™ on their own at this point. This leaves more time to take advantage of the suite's flexibility to work on new enhancements with the user-customization capabilities built into the system.
One project they are engaged in with ESS is to enable the Safety Management program to provide additional cost tracking capabilities for workers' compensation transactions. An earlier customization involving the driver's license data for city drivers has been incorporated into the product. Mr. Reese cites the responsiveness and expertise of ESS' support staff as one of the best parts of doing business with the company.
'The account manager, support personnel and training staff are always a joy to deal with - real people with real solutions', he said. 'Compliance Suite™ is a true relational database. Once people see and understand the utility of that, they begin to realize that there are metrics within their department that they can monitor - and that they should be monitoring. We couldn't possibly do these kinds of things without having a solid underlying system to help us keep track of it all.'