The Municipality of Eggerding
Digital document management in the municipality of Eggerding
The Municipality of Eggerding in Upper Austria has fewer inhabitants than many companies do employees. The local municipal office’s staff of just nine love their familiarity with the citizenry and wouldn’t think of working any other way… But a few years ago they thought to themselves that it might be nice to have a little bit less paperwork.
How a small municipality benefits from digitization – from outdated computers to modern administrative technology
Eggerding is home to about 1,340 people. How much work could that really be? A whole lot, as it turns out! After all, the municipal office of Eggerding handles much more than the tasks typical of a local administration. The four administrative employees are responsible for all public duties in the municipality: Building office, citizens registration office, civil registry… The same tasks as in municipalities with 10,000 inhabitants – all under one modest roof!
4000 invoices make their way across their desks every single year. More invoices than in many mid-sized businesses, but with much less accounting staff. This was reason enough to transform large piles of paper into ones and zeros.
A leap forward in time: In 2017 when Kerstin Bürkl became office director, she immediately noticed how outdated the infrastructure within the municipal office was. Computers and monitors were old-fashioned but besides this, one thing in particular caught her eye: “There were big piles of paper in every corner, and they took up more space in the office than there was for working. This had built up slowly over the years, until entire areas of the building were suddenly taken up by files and folders.”
Soon after a desire for digitization became clear, the digital document management system was introduced at lightning speed. In early 2019, the municipal office of Eggerding bade farewell to the piles of paperwork by scanning and shredding thousands of papers. Up to that point, with such a drastic leap from outdated computers to modern administrative technology, we asked ourselves: How long would the workers need to get used to this transition?
“The training of the workers for the new software was impeccable,” says Kerstin Bürkl. “Orientation could hardly have gone faster. My coworkers in accounting and in citizens’ services were very enthusiastic. And this happened even though we had only very slight knowledge of digital processes and solutions of this type beforehand. Of course, it helped that the software is very easy to understand.”
With the digital document management system, we can find everything that we need with a single click: Invoices, delivery slips, correspondence – everything is in a single place. Never again will we have to go through several rooms or shelves to complete a single task.
Office Director Eggerding
Work got at least 30% faster
“Beforehand, we had a lot of worries: Such a big transformation will take forever for all of us to get used to. But in the end there were no problems. Quite the contrary! Work got at least 30% faster. Just by doing away with tediously combing through folders, we save valuable minutes every day.
Moreover, the new structure is much more manageable: Before this, even when we had found the right folder, this did not necessarily mean that all the papers we needed were it – far from it! With the digital document management system, we can find everything that we need with a single click: Invoices, delivery slips, correspondence – everything is in a single place. Never again will we have to go through several rooms or shelves to complete a single task,” says Kerstin Bürkl.
Since we all work in a uniform manner according to the same system now, each of us is well-informed of what our colleagues are working on. In the municipal office of Eggerding, due to the small size of the team, we have never had qualified substitutes for sick leaves. Back then, if a person was missing, there was no one who was able to take over the job at the spur of the moment. With the digital solution, this step is significantly easier to imagine.
This even applies to large-scale projects: The municipal offices is currently working on a project to equip the entire locality with a widely available, public water supply. Back then, with such a large-scale project, the workers would not have been able to see their way clear due to the huge piles of papers. Now they can find all steps and documents in a comprehensible tree structure in the digital tool.
But what was to be done with the countless, older files that were still sitting on the shelves in paper format? The municipal office decided on a practical basis that it will be sufficient to digitalize the documents that they would continue to need regularly in the future on a retrospective basis: Only negotiation documents, personnel files, contracts and similar documents. But even these were still quite a lot of documents. Which member of the little four-person team would be in charge of making sure that these old paper documents – as well as future ones – will make it to the digital archive? Would this end up requiring an additional staff member?
Finally, scanning documents became just one more small task among the team’s daily duties. Since the system sorts the documents scanned independently, by date for instance, the scanning itself does not require much time or attention. With a little bit of patience, all of the files will systematically end up in the digital archive one by one. To prevent interfering with daily work, the municipal office introduced the digital solution step by step, in one division at a time.
The municipal office has saved the most time on invoice approval: The three stages of the typical approval process – accounting, office manager, mayor – often used to take 3 to 4 days. The mayor was often busy, and only came to the office once or twice a week. And so he could only sign the documents on those few days.
Today, the office manager sends all invoices electronically to the mayor. Whether he is at home or on the go with his notebook, he can log in anywhere with a secure connection through a VPN client and sign the invoices digitally. This way, even documents that have just arrived at the office receive a valid signature. Today approval rarely takes longer than one day.
“It is not only the office workers who are delighted, the mayor is also impressed,” confesses Kerstin Bürkl in amazement. “We save so much time now, I can’t believe we were worried about how much it cost before we bought it. Nowadays you hardly ever hear a printer running in our office. And all our suppliers and other business partners also know that they can only send us their invoices by email now. Without paper and the stress that paper-based processes entail, we have more room to breathe today.”