Running two casinos 55 miles apart with more than 3,500 staff between them, the Human Resources department of Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures had logistics problems. Lots of them. Faxing contracts and other paperwork between Grand Casino Mille Lacs, Grand Casino Hinckley and Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures headquarters was proving increasingly costly as the casinos grew along with a nationwide boom in the Indian gaming industry. Forms would often need to be sent, approved and resent. Multiple faxing meant the images became unreadable, according to Lance Dutcher, the business solutions architect for Minokaw Technologies, a division of Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, which operates the casinos and other non-gaming businesses. “One of the biggest issues was accurately keeping track of documents,” Dutcher says. “With the amount of people needing to review and approve contracts, documents would get lost in the shuffle during the approval process. That led to multiple copies being routed for approval to different desks, which ultimately led to an increased workload for everyone.” As Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures’ business holdings grew, Dutcher knew the only way to overcome these obstacles was to replace all the paper documents stored in filing cabinets in various offices with electronic images stored in a single, shared computer repository. That undertaking started with Mille Lacs’ Laserfiche enterprise content management system, which Dutcher first put to work making this digital conversion using scanning machines in the HR department. Then he created a new electronic records repository within Laserfiche using indexing information called metadata which the system pulled from the individual documents to further facilitate access to anyone. The transition from paper records in filing cabinets to electronic documents in computer servers resulted in immediate time savings as staff can now instantly locate those files using key phrases and words within them. The metadata helps to greatly refine researches as the records repository continues to grow. Lost document problems have also been eliminated, saving tens of thousands of dollars, according to Dutcher. Supplies and overhead costs also fell sharply as the printing, shredding and storage costs associated with the 45,000 pages of paperwork HR generated each year was eliminated. The conversion to digital images eliminated wasted labor hours due to lost documents needing to be submitted for re-approvals. Similarly, there was no more time wasted on employees tracking documents for creating reports. The largest savings by far comes from quicker response and contract completion times, which eliminates late fees on contracts which can range from 10 to 15 percent. Much more important, Dutcher says, the conversion from paper to digital allows for deployment of a suite of software products within Laserfiche called Business Process Management (BPM). These modules are taking over an ever-growing array of the manual tasks that consume so much of the time spent working with hardcopy documents.
Products such as electronic Workflow and electronic Forms use software to eliminate copying, mailing, and manually inputting information recorded on paper forms. Dutcher first put Workflow to work in the HR departments, where personnel files were soon being automatically moved from desk to desk as they are processed. “Once we finished that, we realized that BPM can save us so much more than simply cutting document search and retrieval costs,” Dutcher says. “One contract that had cost $100,000 a year was eliminated completely because the entire process is now automated by Workflow.” Workflow now enables the company to maintain annual contracts in a timely manner, eliminating issues of lack of coverage orsupport due to an expired contract. The system also allows for easier identification of bottlenecks in the contract process, enabling top level management to see just how long someone took to approve a contract. Success breeds success, and Dutcher has since developed hundreds of other workflows, upwards of 600 to date. In finance, Workflow streamlines the approval of purchase requests by automatically numbering them and linking them to other documents with the same number. Workflow also automatically routes purchase requests for approvals and then sends email reminders to those involved when delays occur. The system’s “pending field” also provides alerts to the arrival of a document, further reducing bottlenecks. Marketing is now enjoying increased speed of approval for entertainment and advertisement contracts while other departments are enjoying similar advantages, Dutcher says. Payroll is using Workflow to speed up the processing of documents needing approval. The system automatically files documents into employee folders as well as automatically filling in pertinent information from the HR database. Workflow automatically files payroll documents by employee ID and designated folder. It notifies the appropriate HR representative when a new document has been sent to his or her inbox; creates folders and metadata for new Associates; and files PTO information and updates by employee ID and designated folder. Dutcher said the mobile applications of the new technology allow Mille Lacs to be more flexible in filling its staffing needs, making it easier to attract top talent, no matter where they live, to fill job openings. As Dutcher continues to look for other workflows he can build throughout other areas of Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures operations, Minokaw Technologies continues to explore the reach and power of BPM technology. After just one year in operation, the company is expanding services to the entire Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and offering its services to other Native American tribes across the country. ® For more information about Grand Casino Hinckley and Grand Casino Mille Lacs, visit grandcasinomn.com. For more information about Minokaw Technologies, visit www.minokaw.com.