Chapter 8. Document Workflows

Back in the day, circa 2007, I was working at the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, attempting to streamline the legislative bill analyses we performed each year. It was a crazy time for the office, with more than 1,000 bills going through the office in 30 days, legislators calling to get the latest updates, and politics galore. Honestly, to this day I’m baffled by how it all gets done while keeping the mortality rate so low.

The process starts with a legislator submitting a bill for analysis. The bill is assigned to different attorneys depending on their area of practice, who write an analysis and send it off to reviewers, who may send it to others who make edits and send it back or to someone else, and so on until the final approval, where the analysis is sent back to the legislator. That sounds simple enough, but add a 24-hour deadline and politically charged issues, and it’s a recipe for a heart attack. Adding to the mayhem, the team at the legislative building and the upper management never knew what was being analyzed or where in the queue something might be. Not the best position to be in when the chairman is fuming about a delay.

At the time, I thought we could add in a little technology to smooth out the flow of work—and wouldn’t you know it, we had just installed SharePoint. It had workflows that we hoped to leverage into an email approval and tracking system. After a few weeks we eked out a rudimentary system that sort of worked most ...

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