June 4, 2010
I'm grateful that so many of our customers and stakeholders have subscribed to this weekly "Bottom Line" e-mail message. It's important to me that we communicate openly and frequently with those we serve so you know what's going on at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. In fact, if any of you have any topics you've not yet read about and would like to hear about, please let me know by replying to this message.
One recent project we tackled here at DBPR may seem like a small task to many, but to me it is a great illustration of the initiative our staff shows every day. This project was resolved through teamwork, innovation and perseverance.
Over the past three years, we have moved our entire processing system to a paperless environment. This change drastically improved efficiency in licensing businesses. We've reduced our processing times from an average of around 70 days in 2007 to around 12 days now. The new paperless system works well, but we still have records from the period prior to implementing the electronic system. We had one room here in Tallahassee that was filled with about 400 boxes of old documents that were waiting to be scanned, but the problem was that we didn't have any employees dedicated to doing "backfile" scanning.
I was frustrated at the cost of storing these old documents, and when I got quotes from vendors to image the documents, I thought that there must be a better way. In the end, the solution was simple and centered one of our core values—teamwork.
First, it's important to understand that due to the nature of our business, there are times when work ebbs and flows. For instance, during renewals for professions with large numbers of licensees, such as real estate or construction, our call center and processing units are swamped. During these periods, we re-task staff from other professions and deploy managers to assist in order to meet the demands of our customers.
This team approach enables us to apply a strategy from the Information Technology world called "distributed computing" to our capacity problems. In distributed computing, you contribute a bit of excess capacity from each of a large group of smaller machines to form the equivalent capacity of a mega machine.
To apply this concept to our backfile problem, we had a number of employees from different areas of the department volunteer their time to scan documents. They used bits of time they had here and there during the course of many weeks to help. Each small contribution allowed us to conquer this large task within a few months. Now, the documents are maintained in our electronic database for easy retrieval and floor space has been freed for other uses. We are going to use this system to tackle a much larger backlog of archived paper statewide.
This scenario exemplifies how government should run. By assessing our resources and working as a team to solve the problem, we accomplished a great task that would have cost anywhere between $60,000 and $140,000 to outsource. Once we had the basic concept, several team members developed the plan. We have seven values at DBPR: Accountability; Innovation; Integrity; Ownership; Responsiveness; Respect; and Teamwork. Every time I see our team members embody these values, I see the great potential we have to enhance how we serve Florida's businesses, residents and visitors.
UPCOMING BOARD MEETINGS