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AINS Blog - FOIA and Case Management

Tuesday
Jul262016

AINS Corporate Funrun and Annual Picnic

Last week was a fun time for AINS since we had not one, but two great events.

Last Tuesday July 19th, AINS participated in the Corporate Funrun 5K at High Point Farm in Clarksburg, MD. Twelve runners (and walkers) turned out to run the grassy course and enjoy some BBQ and music after the race.

"I had a ton of fun," said one AINS racer. "I finished the race a lot faster than I hoped. I'll have to beat my time next year!"

The AINS team had a mix of walkers, joggers, and runners with the best finishing time coming in at 26:30. Congratulations to everyone who finished the course!

 

The fun continued into the weekend with the Annual Company Picnic. This year's festivities were held Sunday July 24th at The Pavilions at Turkey Run in Northern Virginia. AINS employees and their families joined together to enjoy food and drinks, a zip-line, misty rainforest trail, and beautiful picnic grounds.

For those brave enough, the zip-line proved to be a thrilling experience. Riders took turns climbing up the wooden tower before swinging across the field adjacent to the picnic area.

We would like to thank everyone who participated for making these events a fun and fantastic success!

 

Get in on the fun - find open careers postings to join the AINS team.

 

Thursday
Jul072016

Federal Workforce by the Numbers

How do you manage 4,185,000 workers?

With 4 million workers and uniformed military, all Federal Human Capital Officers know that strategic workforce planning starts with numbers. Critical data, tools and reports to see the big picture and support decision making.

The face of the Federal employee is changing. Being in the know when it comes to measuring these changes is critical to running your HR department effectively.

How many workers are eligible for retirement? How long does it take to onbaord an employee? What demographics make up the largest percentage of the workforce? 

Do you know your HR numbers?  Download the infographic to see the statistical trends at the heart of today’s federal workforce. 

 

Friday
Jul012016

Celebrating 50 Years of FOIA

This Independence Day marks the anniversary of another freedom – the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). On July 4, 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson signed FOIA into law. A year later, the act went into effect giving private citizens a “right to know” by providing a streamlined means to request government records.
 
Pro or con, to redact or release – it’s time to acknowledge the hardworking people who have kept the doors of democracy open for fifty years. On this golden anniversary, AINS salutes Access Professionals across the public sector. Those front-line staffers who responded to 769,903 FOIA Requests in 2015. Professionals who rose to the occasion to manage a 30% increase in requests since 2008. These are the unsung heroes that protect our liberty one piece of paper at a time.
 
“FOIA offices have an important task. They are a vital part of democracy by keeping the government transparent. They serve the government, their agency and citizens.” said Moe Goswami, CEO of AINS Inc. the maker of FOIAXpress®, the leading eFOIA solution for the Federal Government.
 
In 2016, the fifty year law is taking center stage. Savvier citizens have come to expect transparency; they demand a greater level of accountability and access to a broader range of government information and records – from standard reports to video, emails, social media and new forms of communication.

“FOIA is only going to get more complicated. Social media and technology are changing the way people interact; more content is going digital. They (FOIA Offices) are going to need greater levels of support and expertise in order to meet the growing demand” said Goswami. “Despite a greater burden on the FOIA community, it is positive that FOIA is growing. A transparent government is the cornerstone of our democracy.”
 
So, this July 4th, raise a sparkler for the Access Professional. To the analyst, lawyer, public information director and Chief FOIA Officer who respond to media requests, citizen questions and uphold the First Amendment. To the people who search, redact and respond on demand – walking the tightrope between disclosing too much and safeguarding our nation. These quiet champions deserve a nod for keeping the lines of communication open for half a century.
Happy July 4th!

 

Download the PDF version.

 

Tuesday
Jun282016

What Keeps HR Directors Up at Night?

Tracking, Accountability, and Reporting in HR

What keeps HR Directors up at night?
 
Numbers. Getting data on who, what, where, when and why things are happening. Building compliant reports that track trends, metrics and productivity across the agency.

The Data Behind Workforce Planning

The Government Accountability Office’s 2015 High Risk Report named Strategic Human Capital Management a High Risk area. It notes that “mission-critical skills gaps impede federal agencies from cost-effectively serving the public and achieving results.” The GAO urges agencies to utilize workforce analytics to predict future needs and proactively address deficiencies.
 
Smart managers know what it takes to hire, retain and engage workers. They need help gathering the necessary data to back up their plan. To capture metrics that inform workforce analytics.
 
To get to the heart of the matter, agencies need to be able to account for every employee – to track their lifecycle, measure performance and identify risk factors. The data needs to aggregate to show patterns over departments and agencies. Managing HR functions in silos makes it difficult to get a clear picture. Manual processes don’t connect Employee Relations with a poor performance. Siloed systems won’t show the relationship between a slow onboarding process and critical skill gaps in high demand areas. 
 

An Inside View

How do you capture this data throughout the enterprise? By using smart technology that goes beyond talent management. Software that examines processes and connects activities across an organization to give both the detailed view of a talent management suite and the broad scope of Business Process Management (BPM).

Adaptive Case Management focuses on achieving better outcomes. The software manages people as cases – grouping related information together. It brings transparency and efficiency to processes by centralizing key information in one system. Once a digital form is submitted, a case management system drives the request through an approval process through adaptive workflows. Workflows can be structured or change on the fly to meet the changing demands of HR. This nimble approach shows the details of a function while easily consolidating related information.

Why do these metrics matter? Adaptive Case Management Software allows leaders to get a complete view of their organization. From every keystroke on an Employee Grievance to running real-time insight on an entire class of workers, the technology enables leaders to obtain digestible information that can be used to inform intelligent decision making. Metrics that legacy systems or manual processes just can’t provide.

Using Data to Increase Accountability

Easily accessible metrics give more insight into both the employee experience as well as who is performing HR work. Dashboards and interactive visual interfaces show task lists for each case. It measures productivity of the HR worker – showing what, when, where and whom is processing a request. It allows HR Directors to identify gaps in their teams; to find efficiencies and strategize on better ways to serve their agency.

The technology encourages accountability by showing how each action effects the rest of the chain. It makes it easier to stay on task by visually showing where they are in the process. This data motivates employees to perform at their best and identifies top performers in each department.

At a higher level, smart technology provides the data needed to prove value. Numbers, metrics and detailed task lists show leadership the effectiveness of programs. Easy to run reports inform strategy. Solid, case by case and agency-wide analysis verify the resources needed for future endeavors.

The only way to look to the future is to study and change the present. A case-centric approach generates data on every employee, request and process in real time. Metrics that can be used immediately to improve processes today and banked to predict tomorrow’s needs.

eCase HR

eCase® HR is a workflow-driven, adaptive case management solution that unifies essential human resource functions and puts employees’ professional growth at the heart of the organization. Built for the public sector, eCase HR delivers a single, unified solution to improve the employee experience – from onboarding through retirement.

 

Download the PDF article.

 

Wednesday
Jun082016

10 “Must Haves” for HR

Can technology improve the employee experience?

Ashwin Eapen, AINS Sales Engineer, meets with Federal HR departments each week to learn about their needs
and how technology can solve problems. While every agency is different, there are similar themes among HR Professionals.

Managers need an easier way to accomplish tasks, faster response and a way to positively connect HR to employees - improving engagement and inclusion.

Ashwin details the 10 “Must Have” features requested by HR Professionals.

 

10. Automated Assigning of Cases

Our clients use eCase HR’s assignment feature to set up rules to send the right forms to the right people. Going on vacation? It even includes integration with “Out of Office” Autoresponders to reassign cases when you are enjoying time at the beach.

 

9. Search

It’s much faster to type in search words than sort through piles of paper. Easy search capabilities allow the user to search all fields and within documents in the system through keywords, wildcards, IDs and advanced fields.

 

8. Attachment Size

Nothing is more frustrating than getting an error message that your attachment is the wrong size. eCase HR was designed with flexibility in mind. Administrators can select unlimited size or define size limits; a powerful system like eCase doesn’t slow down when files are uploaded.

 

7. Alerts & Notifications

A smart system should remind you what to do next. eCase sends email notifications to let users know when a case moves to the next stage, has a deadline pending or transfers to another application. Email alerts are customizable so users can add notes or instructions with each notification.

 

6. Security

Security comes in two forms: protection from the outside and from the inside. Role-based permissions lock down information internally so only authorized users can see or make changes. The system has built-in security features and is hosted in a FedRAMP certified data center designed to safeguard the Federal Government’s most critical information.

 

5. Visibility & Reporting

Knowing who, what, when and how a case is progressing keeps processes on track. The user interface shows case details on the home screen – down to each task, assignment and save. Dashboards compare cases or workloads. Easy reporting features allow leaders to get valuable metrics for strategic workforce planning.

 

4. Access Anywhere

Human Resources is about more than processing forms – it’s about relationships. Interactive web portals for both employees and HR Professionals create two-way conversations. Cloud-based systems allow users and employees to log on anytime, anywhere – from work, home, smart phone or tablet.

 

3. Easy to Change Processes

The only constant is change. Our customers lamented that major software systems that took months to update when a process changed. eFlow, eCase HR’s configuration tool, allows the user or administrator to quickly change a workflow as simply as you would create a chart. Drag and drop editors allow administrators to update the user interface, digital forms or major documents. The goal is to put the power back in the administrator’s hands and not require a technical expert to make changes.

 

2. Integrations with Microsoft & Enterprise Systems

Today’s HR Professional must work in a number of systems to process requests. eCase integrates with core Federal systems from eOPF to USA Jobs. It ties into common Microsoft Applications like MS Word, Excel, Outlook and SharePoint to update or host documents. An added benefit: the software isn’t just for submitting forms, users can work in MS Office applications within the system to complete Word documents or update spreadsheets.

 

1. Digital Forms, Letters & Autoresponders

The first question we get asked in demonstrations is “but, does it have the forms I need?” The answer is “yes.” The core feature of a case management system is the ability to move paper-based processes to a digital format. Digital forms, letters and pre-written emails are the base for all eCase Applications whether it’s Onboarding or Labor Relations.

AINS works with your agency to import your paper forms into digital format then design a workflow (how it gets from point A to B) to match your business process. A robust forms library comes integrated. The system can include pre-made email autoresponders to let employees know that their information is needed, received or to keep them engaged in the process.

 

Find out more about how eCase HR case management software can make the HR process easier for your team through the NFC BPA.

 

Download the PDF version of this article.

 

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