Communicating with Clerk's Office Staff
Perhaps those most affected by the paradigm shift brought by the ECR Program were Clerk's Office staff. Document processing and management systems must help staff do the work that they know best. Staff were critical stakeholders and their engagement in the ECR Program was broad and deep.
Employees were drawn from all sections of the Clerk's Office to participate in program committees. An Electronic Document Management Workflow Team was formed in 1996 to study and chart the flow of documents and work within the office. In 1997, a successful imaging pilot project was based on products developed by this working group. The ECR Communications team helped maintain good stakeholder relations by ensuring that colleagues (and others) were well informed about ECR progress. Due to the enormous burdens placed on Clerk's Office staff, tremendous communication efforts commenced early on to support and educate staff about upcoming changes.
As the ECR Program progressed, employees who had for years provided customer service based on the paper court record systems were asked to entirely reimagine and relearn their jobs, while continuing to provide capable and effective customer service to judges, attorneys, and the public. Just this transition would have been sufficiently challenging. However, Clerk's Office staff were asked to meet a further challenge when, due to a variety of factors, the Clerk's Office maintained dual systems, supporting both paper and electronic record systems, for over two years. This process was physically taxing as well as demoralizing and is not recommended. During the years of dual system maintenance, management communicated with staff in a variety of ways to keep them in the loop regarding the slow phase out of the paper system. Management also worked to understand and respond to staff concerns during the very challenging dual system time.
Recognizing the importance of communications and change management for internal staff, the Clerk also established checkpoints during the ECR Program to celebrate achievements and boost morale.