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It’s funny how things turn out in life.  I would have said someone was crazy if they had told me in the spring of 2004, when I started working for Zirous, as my first job out of college,  that I not only would still be at the same company but also working with the same client on the same project. That project that I began working on seventeen years ago started out as an initiative to streamline functionality for a Midwestern state to develop their state-level judicial system. We took a resource draining 25 year old legacy client/server system and created a more uniform and updatable browser-based application. While the initial development is complete, we have remained in partnership with this client, working to enhance their system, develop additional custom features that ease their employees’ workload, and provide a substantial return on investment. Providing a custom development solution allows us to tailor the application to the very specific needs of the client, and the long life of this project has allowed me to build and maintain lasting relationships with multiple people that have helped contribute to its success.

When we first began this project, it was obvious that a custom development solution was needed. There was a great deal of business logic involved in this judicial system’s business practices and the original legacy system involved 26 database servers and was distributed among 100 courthouses. Business logic was embedded in Forms, PL/SQL, and as data in tables. What was needed was a solution that was uniform throughout the entire state that also provided high availability and failover. A browser-based custom development application was determined to be the best solution due to the complexity and over time we have developed additional applications used within different areas of the judicial system. We are continuing to find areas where we can provide additional functionality to improve business processes. There are many facets of this group of applications that provide great benefits and improvement. While there are many that continue to save the client both time and money, there are four areas that specifically stand out.

Electronic Filing

After the initial development of the application, it became apparent that we needed to also provide the option for attorneys to be able to file documents electronically. Up until that point, they had been required to go to the courtroom to file documents in person. Giving them the ability to file documents online 24/7 greatly simplified the process of getting documents into the court system. Zirous worked with two other vendors to accomplish this, one vendor provided the external-facing system that attorneys use to upload their documents and provide case-related information and the other vendor handled the secure storage of those documents. Zirous’ role was to provide APIs for all of these systems to talk to each other and to make sure that all the business processes were completed correctly and all the necessary information saved to the database in the judicial system. This functionality not only took a great deal of responsibility off the plates of the clerks in the courthouses and freed them up to focus on other tasks, but provides the attorneys using the system with much more flexibility.

Courtroom Check-In Process

The check-in process provides functionality that checks people into the busy traffic courts. Prior to us developing this new application, the client used to have to manually have a clerk indicate that someone had arrived for their court date, and if changes were needed or items rescheduled the clerk manually needed to go into their system to change the calendar items. The newly developed functionality allows for a one-click check-in into the courtroom. It also allows the clerks to add comments to the calendar items easily if needed, and will automatically update all the existing calendar items and create new events if necessary to include in the check-in time information, indicating if the information is invalid, or indicating a no show and a failure to appear. This allows for seamless handling of multiple cases at one time and cuts down the clerk’s setup time for traffic court dramatically.

Judicial Interface

This piece provides the ability for judges and other specific court users to be able to quickly access information for a case that they are currently working on in a tabbed view. The initial screen views are customizable per user. They can see all of the necessary case-level information including dockets, litigants, scheduled events, related cases, any items needing immediate attention, financial history, and view documents that have been filed but not processed yet. It provides color-coding so users can see important information at a glance; certain tabs are grayed out and unclickable if they don’t have any information available, or flashing red on a tab indicates an item needs attention or if there is an active warrant out for an arrest. It also gives them tabbed access to judicial queues that need to be acted on and work in progress task items that need to be completed.

Before creating this for judges and other specific users, they would need to go to multiple locations to be able to find the information and would have multiple pages of information printed out to be able to access the information. Having all the necessary information located in the same location allows judges to rule quickly on cases and see more cases in a day.

Template Builder

One of the custom applications Zirous created for the client allows them to build their own templates for orders and other documents. This allows them to file documents quickly and pull information directly from the case rather than taking the time to find a word document in a file system, having to enter the case information themselves, and uploading the document into the system. Templates are reusable and customizable per county which helps promote greater efficiency. This custom application can also be accessed directly from their court management system and provides seamless processing between the two with the ability to file documents directly to a specific case. Before having this application, it was a much more complex process of attempting to maintain multiple Word documents and have them accessible to the people who needed them all throughout the state, plus needing to manually enter case-level information which opened itself up to typos.

A Lifecycle Partner

Over the years we have developed a great relationship with the client and have enjoyed working with them to come up with a custom solution that has benefited them beyond measure and provided a substantial return on investment. It is very satisfying as an employee to be able to see the improvements we have been able to make and know our solution makes their work easier for them. We continue to find areas we can improve the business processes and with custom development, the possibilities are endless.

While this article discusses just one relationship Zirous has formed, Zirous prides itself as a lifecycle partner with every single client. With 35+ years of experience in the ever-changing technological landscape, it is not surprising our customer’s reap benefits and success. It is so rewarding to form these relationships and witness the growth first-hand. If you are interested in technical guidance for your unique projects or for customizations to an existing product, contact us. We care about your immediate needs and your organization’s long term success.

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