Transformers Team

What does the future hold?

Jan 29

January 2020

Posted on January 29, 2020 at 11:17 AM by Nicole Watanabe


Transformers Newsletter

Every Data Shufflin'

January 2020 View as a Webpage


Keeping Connected  


Just over a year ago, TCHD implemented an internal company website called the Intranet, also referred to as The Employee Link. As the staff adjusts to continuous changes concerning EH regulations, future software applications, and company news, the intranet is a great resource for finding information quickly without having to search on the overwhelming P: Drive. We even have our own EH Division homepage!

Recently added to the Division’s home page are the Let’s Celebrate You page, the Transformers blog, and Working in Decade page. Let’s Celebrate You was created to make personal announcements and accomplishments as well as welcoming in new staff to the Division. The Transformers Team blog is all about how our internal team handles process improvements and creates efficiency within the Division to create a better future state. The Working in Decade page provides helpful tips on navigating Decade and finding reports. Click HERE to read more about the intranet


Transformers, More Than Meets the Eye

Kudos to you if you were able to hum the title of this article! This is what goes through my head every time I hear the word “Transformers”, and I have to admit, a little picture of Optimus Prime goes along with it.

When I started at TCHD in June 2018, I had no idea what the Transformers Team (the “Team”) was all about. Just when I believed I had it figured out, we decided that perhaps we needed to “transform” the Team. Part of the impetus for change came about because we wanted to make sure the Team was doing what the Division actually needed the Team to be doing. In order to answer that question, we wanted/needed to involve a few additional people from around the Division. In December, approximately 10 of us met to talk about the role the Team should play in the coming year. The following are the key take-aways from the meeting:

  • The core Team should stay intact, with the following exceptions: Janet will step down, and Dylan will join the core Team
  • The primary function of the Team in 2020 will be to support the Division’s TBD-Database Project Team (“Project Team”)
  • The Team will focus on 4-5 goals instead of 10 goals. Possibilities include:
    • Use currently available technology to make it easier for clients to send electronic documents to staff
    • Develop a timeline for key events in order to prepare for new database implementation
    • Focus on Division requirements’ exploration in preparation for our eventual migration to a new system
    • Determine if Accela is the best choice for our new database system
    • Roll-out updated retention schedule; create a plan for cleaning current electronic files
    • Current Goals and Objectives will still be addressed, but will be consolidated and updated 
  • When the Team needs additional expertise, we will reach-out to subject matter experts who may, for a short period of time, join the Transformers Team in order to push a goal forward

We also talked about changes that need to be made on and for the Computer Team, but we’ll address that next time. For the full meeting minutes, please click here. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please reach out to a Team member.




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Your Transformers Team

Nov 13

November 2019

Posted on November 13, 2019 at 8:42 AM by Nicole Watanabe

Transformers Newsletter

Every Data Shufflin'

Top Accelarate Conference Takeaways

Three things the Information Management team loved learning most about the Accela system that we heard from the 2019 Accelerate Conference in Denver were:

  • Accela EH Civic Application will have functional parity (aka, equality) with Decade in April 2020 – a milestone which makes the transition possible.

  • Accela collaborates with partner companies to allow customers different options, such as different electronic planning software and mobile technology enhancements.

  • Accela U, an accessible online micro video-training for customers was a nice surprise and showed long term investment in their customers. 

Where did I put that file?

Not too long ago, my 10-year-old daughter and I were looking for something in her bedroom. I honestly try to avoid looking for anything in her room: there are half-unpacked backpacks under her bed, shoes with no partners scattered in her closet (no telling where the other shoes are), and I swear there is a pair of underwear and at least one sock in every dresser drawer.

“Casey, how can you find anything in here?” Is my usual protest. Her response is generally along the lines of “Well, I mostly know where things are; I just have to open a few drawers to find them.”

Stay with me…this leads into the topic at hand: electronic file maintenance. What does one messy, disorganized child have to do with our file structure? No matter what you are trying to find—a favorite shirt or an SOP for the COO process—if the system is messy, or if there is a lot of extra clutter, it makes finding the item all that much more difficult.

At some point, our Division is going to be moving to a new database and perhaps a document management system. In order to prepare, I have met with several of you to talk about our electronic filing structure and to understand the current state of it. My overall impressions are that people generally know where things are in their own filing tree, but if they have to go outside of their own program, they do not always know where to look and so a lot of time is wasted. In addition, most people agree that it is a good idea to routinely clean-up and organize their files, but few actually have the time to do so.

In order to assist with this conundrum, we are developing a plan to help teams clean-up their electronic files. The plan is still in the early stages, so please stay tuned, and let me know if you have any questions or concerns! 

Accela and Beyond

At the EH Division Symposium on October 10th an update was given on our exploratory work with Accela about migrating to their EH Civic Application.

The key takeaways:

  • Accela will no longer support Decade by 2024 / 2025.
  • We will be required to migrate to their new EH Civic Application platform in the coming years.
  • Accela released their first version of the EH Civic Application in Feb 2019, but are still adding more features and fine tuning it.
  • TCHD wishes to wait for it to mature a bit longer before we consider migrating over.
  • It’s going to cost a lot more than Decade and we need to develop a negotiation strategy to bring down the cost.
  • We will be developing a document outlining our database requirements (with input from staff) to ensure Accela truly meets our needs.
  • More opportunities to view the platform will be forthcoming.   

We also want to hear from YOU!

Please take this short survey: Accela Survey

Have a question or feedback?

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Your Transformers Team

Nov 13

September 2019 Newsletter

Posted on November 13, 2019 at 8:42 AM by Nicole Watanabe

Transformers Quarterly Newsletter

Every Data Shufflin'

Accela Upgrade Exploratory Work

Earlier this year, Accela released the first version of their new EH Civic Application. This new application will replace Decade in the coming years. To help understand the features and cost, we have been doing exploratory work to better understand the implications. This has included:

  • Having multiple visits with Accela Reps.
  • Receiving demonstrations of the new EH Civic Application. 
  • Evaluating possible Accela solutions for the Land Use team.
  • Scoping our implementation options.
  • Obtaining cost information for implementation and annual user license/maintenance fees.
  • Meeting with other agencies who use Accela to learn from their experiences.
  • Evaluating Berry Dunn Consulting services to ensure that we asking the right questions of Accela related to our requirement needs and contract negotiations. 

We are planning to do a roadshow to the EH offices sometime this Fall to provide the full background and to get your input on the timing for migrating over to the new EH Civic Application. We had hoped to do this sooner but we are still gathering some additional information. 

Want to see what the new EH Civic Application will look like?

Check out this 1 hour video:

It covers:

Who is Accela (at 2:32 minute marker)

Delivering Government Services (at 5:21 minute marker)

Unique EH Challenges (at 10:20 minute marker)

How Accela Helps (at 14:41 minute marker)

Demo (at 23:08 minute marker)

Questions (at 50:50 minute marker)

So what else are the Transformers working on?


Since rebooting the Transformers Team in June 2019, we are gaining momentum on our 2019 EH Information Management objectives which are located here.

Address Validation Makes a Difference

One year ago, the EH Address Validation Policy (EH Address Standardization Policy) went into effect and it’s paying off! Adam Anderson, our Planning and Information Management colleague and agency GIS guru, recently mapped EH’s 38,000 On-Site Wastewater Treatment records while working on the development of a septic system search tool. He plans to incorporate these maps into a future property-based search tool. Adam was pleasantly surprised to see only 10% of the records failed to pass address validation, instead of the 20% that is statistically typical. “Those are really good results. Pretty remarkable." - he said. The improvement can be attributed to EH staff’s commitment to address validation.


If you haven’t already made a bookmark on your internet browser to quickly access the United States Postal Service website, you can do it in a matter of seconds by following these steps:

1.  Open up the page you want to add a bookmark to - USPS Address Verification.

2.  Find the star in the URL box. (see left picture below)

3.  Click the star. A box should pop up.

4.  Choose a name for the bookmark. Leaving it blank will only show the icon for the site. (see right picture below)

5.  Choose what folder to keep it in.

6.  Done when you're done.

Electronic Filing Assessment Updates

This past weekend, I (Traci Jervis) went to IKEA in order to talk to someone about a new kitchen. I tend to avoid IKEA: it’s gigantic, causes sensory overload, and I can never find my way out. Invariably, I take a turn that I believe will take me to where I want to go, only to end up in Children’s Furniture, Glassware or surrounded by throw-pillows. It takes way too much time to find my destination because I have to navigate the sheer size, number of departments, and the plethora of distractions barring my way.

Now, what does my trip to IKEA (and the large glass of wine that followed), have to do with our e-file assessment update? They both present situations where the structure works for some people, but not for others. For those who are used to navigating the myriad of turns and corners, the system makes sense and items are easy to find; it still takes time to get to where they are going, but they at least know the general direction. For those who are not familiar with the layout, it can be frustrating and time consuming, so much so, that a person just gives up.

Over the past month or so, I have been meeting with different people regarding our e-filing system. For most people, it seems that the current filing structure mostly works, but that there could certainly be improvements. For example:

  • Many documents on the I-drive probably need to be deleted, but there is uncertainty about what can be thrown away;
  • Some folders were created, but are not used;
  • It is difficult to navigate through programs other than your own;
  • Documents have to be saved in multiple locations so other divisions can have access.

My plan is to continue assessing our current state. With our pending migration to Accela (and hopefully a Document Management System), we will probably have to do some electronic file clean-up, but more to come on that topic. For now, if you have any thoughts on our current filing system, please let Traci Jervis know.

What do you know about Zoom?

Zoom is an online real-time video communication software that can be accessed anywhere using only an internet connection and a webcam. Specific directions on how to setup a zoom meeting can be found on the intranet at this link: Here are some quick tips to help get you started.  

How to request a User Profile: email your Zoom Administrator requesting to add you as a user to the account. The administrator for Environmental Health is Traci Jervis. If you want a session that is more than 40 minutes long, you will need to have the administrator set up the zoom meeting, because they have the Pro Account license. 

*Do not put in a IT HELPDESK TICKET to have access or if you have problems setting it up.* 

Helpful Zoom Tips:

  • Host has to hit the record button to record the session.

  • Once you open your PowerPoint on your laptop – Select PowerPoint presentation when sharing.

  • Select share computer sound in Screen Sharing for videos so the participants can hear. 

  • If something funky goes on with the sound, turn the volume all the way down and then back up to reset.

  • Select Unlock Screen Share to allow all participants to share a screen.

  • Select Optimize for full screen video clips at the bottom of the share screen settings.