The Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands council has awarded the proposed electronic document and records management system (EDRMS) to ThinkDox Inc., for a total value of $16,577.
Council made the decision during a special council meeting on Monday, held virtually.
Officials hope the move will save significant staff time, mitigate risk with respect to misplacement or loss of township records, and enhance accuracy and accountability of providing information internally and externally.
"They are applicable to anything in Microsoft Office, which is great for us," said clerk Megan Shannon. "In terms of e-copies (electronic copies) and paper copies, we are looking to transfer both of those over so they are able to help us in both ways."
Coun. Gordon Ohlke asked if the new system will mesh with the municipality's current security system.
"The solution that we are proposing is software as a service solution, so it will be (resident) in the cloud," said township chief administrative officer Stephen Donachey. "I believe the cloud (vendor) is Amazon. They have world class security; they have hundreds of security professionals. We would be benefitting from their level of security as well as the vendor Laserfiche's level of security as well, (which) far outweighs what we can do as our own little organization, as a far as security goes."
It is expected ThinkDox Inc. will begin immediately with this project.
"I believe they will be providing us with a series of deadlines and timelines that we would have to make," Shannon said, “something all of us staff will have to participate in. Essentially, we’ll go through the government review of everything we have here at the Township and then proceed to staff training and onwards and upwards."
Shannon added it would be a combination of ThinkDox Inc. assisting township staff with transferring records over, as well as township staff scanning over paper documents.
There is expected to be additional costs for such things as data, however, there's no way to gauge how much that will cost at this point, given a variety of different variables, like the volume of documents.
Coun. Brock Gorrell questioned how the new system would be paid for.
"It sounds like we're getting our toes wet here in the water and they're going to come, and then this thing is going to flesh out," said Gorrell, "and the real costs will start presenting itself.
"We all understand the importance of management of records but I at this moment don’t have a clue what kind of monies is involved and I find it hard to believe someone hasn't had that conversation, because ($16,577) is just the starting point."
Donachey said staff is scoping out the extent of township records and what records will need to have more attention paid to them. He added that the process needs to be done thoughtfully.
"Part of this program with this vendor, they'll be able to provide us with the consultation or expertise in that field to basically guide us into what our next step is after this," added Donachey.
The township's current records management system hasn't been maintained properly, isn't used properly, and is difficult to use, he continued.
"It's not a one-and-done type of process, it's an ongoing thing. I believe the ongoing licensing costs is around $4,000 a year, so in the grand scheme of things it's not a lot of money, and with that we get all of the security updates, new tools."
Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke said all staff will benefit from the EDRMS.
"The software has become much more powerful, and they talk about metadata, it's being able to pick out the words, and it's almost like a Google search, that they can find anything anywhere within our digital documentation and that will make us much more nimble when people are looking for data, when we're looking for data in order to reference whether it be bylaws, building permits, records on machines that we've bought, what we paid for them, what service work was done."
Shannon said the EDRMS use isn’t for the transferring of records only, but also to provide staff different ways to engage with the public, whether it be through online forums, survey developments, or public consultation.
(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)
Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times