Skip to main content

Oregon eCourt: The Implementation Process


The Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) completed its statewide implementation of Oregon eCourt (powered by Odyssey, an integrated software for state courts) in June 2016. The implementation took place starting in 2012 court by court over a five-year period in each of 36 circuit courts across the state, including Oregon Tax Court. OJD's new court technology integrates court management components system-wide, sharing data and information within a single database. Oregon eCourt provides data and processing functions for case management, financial management, File & Serve, authorized document access, ePayment, public access (includes free public access to case information and subscription service for lawyers, government users, media, and businesses to access more detailed case information), Guide & File (featuring interactive online forms that can be eFiled for self-represented filers), and SessionWorks Judge Edition (an Odyssey component that electronically supplies judge dockets with person-based case information—including both current and past cases related to the person appearing in their courtroom).

The decision to implement integrated software transformed OJD’s paper-intensive system to a paperless electronic system that manages the intake, storage, security, distribution, publishing, and electronic retrieval of documents more efficiently for court staff and judges, and allows OJD to make continual improvements in public access to the justice system. Working from its statewide database, the integrated system organizes case information by person rather than by case number. The person-based system helps judges make the most effective decisions in pretrial releases, sentencing, and probation violations in criminal cases. The person-based system is particularly helpful in cases involving dependency, delinquency, family law, abuse cases, and other cases where the court’s decision can affect the safety and future of children, other members of the family unit, and the general public.
 
Additionally, between 2008 and 2015, the Oregon Supreme Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals implemented ePayment, an eFiling system developed in-house, and OnBase software for their Appellate Electronic Case Management System (ACMS). OJD originally looked to the same software for the circuit courts and Tax Court, but shifted direction due to budget shortfalls caused by the economic downturn of 2008-2009. As OJD sought a less expensive way to achieve Oregon eCourt, a more efficient and cost-effective solution was found in the single-solution benefits of Odyssey software—a recently developed integrated software suite designed specificallyfor courts.
 
The keys to our successful enterprise‑wide technology and business change are described in the sections below. Additional details of Oregon eCourt implementation can be found in the Oregon Judicial Department Annual Reports section (see OJD annual reports from 2011-2016) on the Reports, Statistics, & Performance Measures page.
 

The Oregon eCourt implementation affected nearly every workflow, every business process, every staff person, trial court administrator, and every judge in Oregon’s circuit courts and the Tax Court. Without the input of judges and staff (the people who would be using the system) and the important roles they played in determining what OJD courts and laws needed from the software, Oregon eCourt might have been counted as another failed government technology project. Some of those statewide efforts by judges and staff are explained below:

  • Before selecting our vendor for Oregon eCourt, we identified 12 teams of judges and staff from our circuit courts across the state, and sent them a list of initial requirements (things we needed the system to do) for all circuit court case types and configuration of the different Odyssey modules. We asked them to add, delete, edit, and send the final list back. We ended up with 2,700 requirements and 150 process and narrative requirements which we included in the Request for Proposal (RFP) to find the vendor whose software could be configured to meet those requirements. 
  • Once we selected our single-solution vendor, the Oregon eCourt Project formed Fit Assessment teams comprised of staff from multiple courts to compare OJD’s court processes side-by-side with the functionality offered by the Odyssey system and to identify adjustments and functions to be configured within the Odyssey software that would fit the needs of OJD’s caseflows and business processes, and to identify any gaps between the requirements in the RFP and Odyssey capabilities. Next, Configuration Teams made up of Trial Court Administrators (TCAs), court staff, supervisors, and analysts from 13 circuit courts, augmented by staff from the OJD Enterprise Technology Services Division (ETSD), Business and Fiscal Services Division (BFSD), and the Communication, Education, and Court Management Division (CECM) — formerly the Office of Education, Training, and Outreach (OETO) — spent more than 350 hours in training, analysis, and configuration work. Configuration and Design is a standard part of all Odyssey rollouts to meet state, county, or municipal statutes, sentencing, statistical reporting, and business needs. The team’s task was to configure the Odyssey system to carry out the statutory and legal requirements of OJD and the Oregon eCourt vision. The team identified Oregon statutes, Uniform Trial Court Rules, codes, case documents, and business process rules that would need to be configured within Odyssey for statewide use. The team reviewed and purged duplicate codes and business processes that, over the years, were part of the legacy system to serve local court purposes.
  • Using OJD's internal expertise, Oregon eCourt project teams were organized from ETSD, CECM, and BFSD division staff to work with the vendor team on each component and process of Odyssey implementation that required special skills and knowledge. This allowed each team to progress on schedule separately even if there was some kind of delay in any one of the other projects. Teams included:​
    • Configuration
    • Integration Backbone
    • Data Center and Servers
    • Data Conversion/Migration
        1. ​OJIN (legacy database) cases converted: 22,478,550. See % OJIN cases converted during each court implementation event.​
        2. Documents migrated: 12,141,580. See % documents migrated during each court implementation event.​
      • ePayment
      • Identity and Access Management
      • Organizational Change Management
      • Implementation
      • File & Serve
      • Testing
      • Web Portal
      • Jury Management
      • Interactive Forms
      • Business Processes
      • Training
      • Financial
    • Court staff and judges were provided with court-specific Oregon eCourt Implementation Guides to help kick-start their twelve-month process of preparing for implementation. The guide included the tasks for the courts:
      • form a “Local Implementation Team” to oversee the court’s preparation activities
      • communicate with CECM, ETSD, and BFSD teams on the court’s progress
      • determine an external communication strategy and arrange presentations to inform local community partners (the local Bar, District Attorney, Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies) of changes that would affect those groups as they conducted business with the court after implementation of Oregon eCourt
    • Staff and judges of each court participated in workshops with the vendor and other implementation teams to review court business processes, forms, procedures, and code migration to the new system. Configuration and testing activities of the court’s business processes were managed by the local court’s designated Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), who were trained to manage implementation of all court processes including local court configuration; court forms; data migration and conversion; and business processes.

    OJD leadership proactively set a unique list of “house rules” regarding how the organization (or groups within an organization) should uniformly proceed as they work together to achieve a united action. An Oregon eCourt Consistency Committee and the Oregon eCourt Executive Sponsors (included the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, the State Court Administrator, and two presiding judges from the circuit courts) established a set of Guiding Principles for the implementation of Oregon eCourt. The principles served to define our priorities and specified how we should use and adhere to them as we collaborated with our software vendor to achieve full implementation of Oregon eCourt.​

    View a copy of the Oregon eCourt Guiding Principles​

    As part of planning for the Oregon eCourt Project, OJD created a Law & Policy Workgroup (LPWG) to identify and recommend law and policy positions and changes required to support an electronic court environment, and to identify and facilitate adoption of court business processes that could be standardized to accommodate a statewide technology system. LPWG focused on identifying statutory requirements for sealed and confidential treatment of certain case types and documents and recommending security settings in the Oregon eCourt system; identifying other public documents or information that OJD should consider making available online on a limited basis; distinguishing the types of case information that should display on public courthouse terminals; developing specific system recommendations for unusual case types — such as juvenile, contempt, and criminal set-asides; recommending statutory changes to the Oregon Law Commission to facilitate an electronic court environment that would include juvenile and adoption referrals (resulting in extensive statutory changes).

    ​OJD negotiated a deliverables-based contract with the Oregon eCourt vendor that specified requirements for each deliverable, paying the vendor by deliverable — only after each requirement in each deliverable was fully met. This approach placed the control and management of implementation in the hands of OJD; provided an organized division of implementation activities into more manageable segments; and was the basis for scheduling dates of implementation in each of the 36 courts spread across the state as well as the Tax Court. The contract spanned three phases to occur over a five-year period — implementation in the “pilot court” to prove the solution in 2012; implementation in four “early adopter” courts, to prove the implementation during 2012–2013; and implementation in the 31 remaining courts and Tax Court in the “velocity” phase between 2013 and 2016. Oregon presented a challenge for our vendor and Oregon eCourt implementation teams (which was overcome successfully), in that OJD’s contract called for implementation of the entire Odyssey system in every Oregon circuit court (36 courts widely distributed across the state) and the Tax Court, whereas courts in other states had only implemented parts of the full Odyssey system.​​​

    Internal Users: The Oregon eCourt project developed a process to address the natural human tendency to resist change that was felt by OJD judges and staff. Organizational Readiness education designed to systematically replace the unknowns of change with knowledge and the tools to deal with it was provided first. Later, Oregon eCourt Odyssey training ensured familiarity with the new system in each of the circuit courts and Oregon Tax Court. Organizational Readiness education sessions were also presented to division staff in the State Court Administrator's Office to inform them of practical steps they can take to perform their jobs in the new business environment created by Oregon eCourt.

     

    External Users: OJD’s external stakeholders affected by the Oregon eCourt business transformation included the Oregon State Bar (with whom OJD formed an OSB-OJD Joint Task Force on Oregon eCourt); district attorneys in each county; county sheriff’s offices; other public safety agencies; the state departments of Revenue, Motor Vehicles, Corrections, State Lands and Justice; the State Treasury; the Public Defenders Office; the Criminal Justice Commission; and bulk data customers (title companies, the media, and collection agencies). Overcoming external stakeholder resistance to change resulted in developing and maintaining public support, which positively affected legislative support and funding. OJD engaged in informational communication with external stakeholders to help them understand the benefits and court vision of the single-solution system, including meetings with local circuit court leaders; presentations explaining the benefits of Oregon eCourt; demonstrations of what the system offers external users and how it would affect them in their business with the courts; press releases, newsletters, posters, brochures, newspaper, and magazine articles providing updates on Oregon eCourt’s progress. OJD welcomed external stakeholder input that helped improve the new system for external users, and allowed stakeholders to develop a sense of participation, ownership, and support for the project.

    Building a close working relationship with legislative committees and the Legislative Fiscal Office, who gave the go-ahead for Oregon eCourt funding, was important to both the Legislature and to OJD’s Oregon eCourt project. OJD gave presentation updates and requested state bond and certificate funding during biennium budget session hearings, while legislative committees overseeing the funding of Oregon eCourt took the opportunity for the state to ensure that all actions contributing to the project’s success were being performed.

    Legislators requested that OJD develop a monthly project status report to provide a compilation of updates on project accomplishments; activities of implementation teams; decisions log; budget numbers and variances; vendor and project team deliverables; charts on project health, schedule variance, duration, and percentage of work completed for each project team, team milestones; issues management log; risk management and mitigation plans; lessons learned; a monthly vendor report; quality assurance assessment reports; and legislative oversite deliverables reports. While the report often exceeded 60 pages (unlike typical one-or-two-page project status reports), it gave OJD executive and project committees as well as our legislative supporters and others in oversight positions a transparent and complete accounting of the project’s activities and status.

    The Legislature and OJD met regularly (outside of budget hearings) in the first couple years of the Oregon eCourt project to agree upon and discuss deliverables that OJD would provide to the Legislative Fiscal Office to demonstrate that Oregon eCourt project progress was meeting their expectations as they continued to approve bond funding (this was an important exercise in gaining the Legislature’s trust in our project). OJD submitted requested reports and data on the project and supplied legislative committees with answers to any concerns about the effects the new court technology may have on their constituents.

    Most important to court staff and judges in the adjustment to Oregon eCourt was development of new skills to perform their jobs confidently in the new Oregon eCourt environment. Courts scheduled staff and judges to cover for co-workers as each attended training classes in order to keep the courts fully functional meeting OJD's constitutional committment to provide public access to the courts.

    Judges and staff first received Basic Computer Skills training to ensure that they had the necessary computer skills to complete Odyssey End User training. (Judge’s jobs in particular had been paper-based, handling documents and case files; and staff working with the legacy system only utilized green screen computer skills.) Our Odyssey vendor and the CECM training team then met with each court to develop a training plan for each individual in the court based on their key responsibilities. Our Odyssey vendor team conducted a minimum of three weeks of general End User Training (non-Oregon specific) on the use and functions of the Odyssey system for judges and staff. Business processes training teams from CECM then followed up by developing and staffing Business Processes Labs for judges and staff, as well judge training and labs to learn SessionWorks Judge Edition — a bench program for judges. The week-long labs were both open and facilitated to allow judges and staff additional time to reinforce Odyssey End User Training and gain practice using the software with scenario exercises that presented realistic court situations requiring problem solving using the court’s new business processes. A minimum of 40 hours of training for each staff person was provided; and judges had two to three days of training.

    As implementations continued across the state, training teams developed electronic training modules and webinars that continue to be created as an online resource for court staff and judges on software updates, new statewide business processes, changes introduced by UTCRs, and legislative passage of new laws.

    The Oregon eCourt project's Integration Team oversaw the creation of interfaces allowing the functioning of data exchanges between the Odyssey case management system and our partner agency systems. These agencies included: Oregon State Police, Department of Revenue, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Corrections, State Treasury, Department of State Lands, Criminal Justice Commission, Oregon State Bar, and others. The goal of the team was to replace all current agency interfaces with Odyssey system interfaces.​​

    The backbone of Oregon eCourt’s implementation capability was systematically constructed as a result of the project work of many committees and workgroups and Oregon eCourt project teams, made up of OJD subject matter and organizational knowledge experts from Enterprise Technology Services Division (ETSD), Communication, Education, and Court Management Division (CECM), and Business and Fiscal Services Division (BFSD), all of whom worked side by side with the Odyssey vendor team. Team projects included Data Centers & Servers; Data Conversion & Migration; ePayment; Implementation; Integration Backbone; Organizational Change Management; Training; Business Processes; Odyssey Configuration; Testing; Web Portal; and File & Serve.

    A Day in the Life - An Oregon eCourt Implementation Timeline

    When pre-implementation activities by project teams, judges, and court staff were complete (including readiness assessments, reviewing and developing business processes, and training — usually within a 12-month period); the Go-Live court scheduled lighter dockets for the first week of business with the new system; and courts across the state that were already "live" prepared for short periods of downtimes for their remote online services as the Go-Live court's data was migrated into the new system; the six-day process of Go-Live arrived, allowing teams to begin OJD’s fine-tuned process for Oregon eCourt implementation. Below is a timeline and description of how team functions were coordinated to perform the implementation of the new Oregon eCourt system in a court:

    Night of Wednesday (6 days to the 1st business day of Go-Live)

    • ETSD, CECM, BFSD, and Vendor teams prepare the legacy database, Uniform Criminal Judgment, court data, and documents for migration
    • 5:00 pm - The old database is de-activated to “read only” status
    • Data extract and verification is begun
    • The court’s financial data/system is balanced

    Thursday

    • 2:20 am - data extract and verification complete
    • Data is compressed and sent to our vendor
    • Vendor team begins data conversion to Odyssey (the new system)

    Friday

    • Vendor continues migration of case data and documents over to Odyssey
    • OJD servers are prepared for production
    • All training concludes
    • Technology teams finalize equipment installation and configuration
    • New cases and documents are accepted by the court to be entered into the new system on Sunday

    Sunday (This is the official start of Go-Live)

    • 7:30 am - Vendor, ETSD, CECM, BFSD, and leadership teams arrive on-site at the courthouse. They will be monitoring the Go-Live, attending to issues, and providing real-time assistance to staff and judges as they prepare the court for Go-Live Monday.
    • Final configuration and equipment setup completed
    • 9:00 am - Court staff arrive
    • Court staff receive their assignments from the court TCA and supervisors. They go to work inputting new case data, receipting funds, scanning, inputting cases and data from Thursday and Friday into the new system, and docketing in preparation for the first business day on Monday
    • Judges arrive later in the day to prepare their benches and configure SessionWorks Judge Edition in preparation for the first business day in court
    • Vendor, ETSD, CECM, and BFSD teams address local hardware configuration, fine-tuning permissions to the Odyssey system, and adjustment of some local business processes as needed
    • The “War Room” team assembles to immediately address and solve bugs and issues brought to them that teams who are working with court staff and judges cannot resolve. The War Room team is able to commulnicate with our vendor's software experts out of state and OJD's technology services team manning the OJD servers located in Salem, Oregon

    Go-Live Monday

    This is the first business day for the Go-Live court! 

    • Court staff in the business offices and judges and staff in the courtrooms use the new system in real time with litigants and attorneys in the courtroom and customers at the public service counters
    • Vendor, ETSD, CECM, and BFSD teams remain on-site to resolve any issues and configuration changes that arise
    • CECM and ETSD make any updates on-site to local forms

    2nd Business Day, Tuesday

    • On-site BFSD support staff monitor and report on deposits and check the new system’s financial balances
    • Deposits are exported and the previous month’s monthly check run is done producing output files for the Oregon Department of Administrative Services to print
    • Go-Live support staff and the vendor team assist in the courtrooms and report on how court sessions are proceeding

    3rd Day, Wednesday

    • ETSD teams in Salem report on their monitoring of server, network, and bandwidth performance and usage across the state during the rollout of Odyssey in the court
    • ETSD, CECM, and BFSD work with court staff and judges to support and assist them with any issues
    • By now, most staff are operating the new system without assistance and courtroom operations are picking up speed

    4th Day, Thursday

    • Vendor, ETSD, CECM, and BFSD teams determine how many team members should remain on-site to provide support

    5th Day (1 week mark), Friday

    • Vendor and ETSD teams update various components of the Odyssey database over the weekend based on any changes identified during the implementation
    • Sights are set on wrapping-up deployment in the coming week

    Saturday and Sunday

    • ETSD tests and configures public access systems to ensure that courthouse public access terminals are working with the new system

    Monday, (2nd week)

    • Public access to the Oregon eCourt Case Information (OECI) system for the court goes active in all courthouses statewide
    • By the end of the second week, court staff graduate from working on the new system with the full support presence of ETSD, CECM, BFSD, and Vendor teams to the court’s local tech support and OJD Help-desk support in Salem
    • ETSD, CECM, BFSD, and the Vendor teams set up a final meeting with the Go-Live court to discuss any remaining issues that occurred during Go-Live. The teams meet to discuss action plans and next steps in preparation for the next court Go-Live

    By the end of June 2016, after all circuit courts and Tax Court had implemented the Oregon eCourt system, the total number of cases converted and migrated from OJD's legacy system to Odyssey was 22,478,550; and the total number of documents migrated was 12,141,280.

    Lessons Learned from the Courts and Implementation Teams

    OJD followed up each implementation with After-Action Reviews (Lessons Learned) to "always improve" internal processes and preparation methods, including addressing and resolving inevitable technical glitches. Lessons Learned resulted in numerous improvements and methods that refined the implementation process for subsequent courts. The reviews were attended by court staff, judges, TCAs, and implementation teams. Here are some of the Lessons Learned from the courts and subsequent implementation improvements:

    There wasn’t enough training time or practice time; exercises in training were too generic; provide real life scenarios.

    The Oregon eCourt project initiated development of training materials adapted to specific job tasks. Initiated facilitated business processes training Labs and open Labs to provide more practice time. Initiated scenario exercises to practice solving problems and using the system. Added more time to judge training and practice.

    Need a way for staff to receive business processes updates.

    Online Help system with statewide and local business processes was developed and continues to be updated; quick reference guides developed.

    Need information to answer customer and stakeholder questions regarding the new system.

    Communication materials were designed and distributed, including signage, posters, brochures. Stakeholder presentations were created to assist the courts with local legal partner communication efforts. Additional presentations were created specifically for Bar members in each locale on how to use File & Serve. Took opportunities to facilitate stakeholder involvement in improving the system.

    Share resources with other courts.

    Courts volunteered SMEs to assist other courts at Go-Live — helped alleviate staff stress. Judges visited judges and staff in live courts to see how the implemented system works and to receive the advice of experience. Staff could use Sametime instant messaging communications between courts and Salem for discussions and solutions.

    Have a designated group for issue triage at Go-Live.

    Created “War Rooms” staffed with a variety of support team experts to provide immediate resolution of technical issues and business process issues during implementation.

    The Court should reduce dockets and workload on staff and judges during Go-Live week and the week after.

    Docket reduction became standard for courts during the Go-Live time span.

    Lessons Learned from Oregon eCourt Governance

    A "Final Governance Lessons Learned" session was held to collect the following observations on "What Worked Well" from Oregon eCourt Governance. Governance groups included the Executive Sponsors, the Oregon eCourt Steering Committee, and the Oregon eCourt Project Division Directors:

    • The overall governance structure. It was critical to have trial judges and trial court administrators closely involved in governance.
    • Success of this project can be attributed to the people involved; consistent communication and interaction; we learned and were better as we progressed.
    • Having the Guiding Principles was very helpful, as was the work of the Consistency Committee at the beginning of the project. 
    • Many of OJD’s managers, TCAs, and judges came into the OESC committee without background in governance or project management. It was a huge learning curve, but we managed to succeed where other Oregon statewide technology projects have not been successful.
    • There were times when there were substantial road blocks, and we had to regroup and change an aspect of the project, but our overall ability to accept change when it was necessary helped in this process. 
    • The Law and Policy Workgroup was created in anticipation that statutes, rules, and court policies would need to change to facilitate the transition to an electronic court environment, and that planning paid off.
    • Allowed attorneys to be part of the governance system; they had valuable insight.
    • The diverse representation of the steering committee.
    • There was extraordinary cooperation and teamwork between three separate OJD divisions, ETSD, BFSD, and CECM, and between OJD and Tyler Technologies, to further the project.
    • Retaining the same people on governance committees from the beginning provided institutional knowledge and insight.
    • Having the support of the courts became a true test of our unified court system.
    • It took individuals who knew the inner workings of the court system, OJIN, Odyssey, and business processes to really make this process work; it took everyone working together.
    • This was the biggest change for the courts since they started in 1859.
    • We live in a world with realistic time and resource constraints, and we were able to adjust where we needed to (whether timelines or number of resources, etc.).
    • Not deviating from our rollout schedule; we created the schedule, and we stuck to it. 

    ​The Oregon eCourt Change Management (OCM) team developed a Business Processes Documentation system for OJD staff to use as a reference tool that houses new, updated, and current business processes. As each court went through the process of learning how to use Odyssey, they were also reviewing and updating local and statewide business processes for Odyssey. Courts asked for computer access to a central place where the the step-by-step business processes could be compiled and used as a reference tool for training, and later, working with Odyssey. The internal Alt+F1 Help System (accessed by pressing the Alt and F1 keys on staff computers) was developed documenting all current OJD business processes, adding new business processes throughout the implementation of Oregon eCourt, and is a living system that continues to be used by OJD staff, developed, and updated. 

    The Organizational Change Management (OCM) team was developed to ensure that judges and staff, external stakeholders, and the public have the necessary tools to understand, adopt, and successfully transition to the new Oregon eCourt business environment. The OCM team's functions were aligned with Project Management Institute (PMI) recommended methods and included a wide range of activities to provide:

    • Organizational Readiness - the people side of change
    • Operational Readiness - the technical side of change involving the court's technical needs and business processes
    • Communication - about Oregon eCourt and its progress to internal and external stakeholders
    • Training - internal training in Odyssey and business processes and external training and instructions

    Specific steps to lead the courts towards change included:

    • Creating a change management strategy throught readiness assessments
    • Engaging key people as change leaders through executive sponsorship
    • Buiding awareness of the need for change through various modes of communication - press releases, newsletters, intranet and internet information, presentations, brochures, posters
    • Developing skills and knowledge to support the change through education and training
    • Helping people move through the transition to a new system with local coaching
    • Utilizing methods to sustain the change such as measurement systems, recognition, and reinforcement

    ​Each court was given a technical readiness review (computers and peripherals, servers, network wiring, and bandwidth) attended by the court’s technical support specialist, Trial Court Administrator (TCA), the Odyssey vendor, OJD’s Enterprise Technology Services (ETSD) team; and a security assessment that was also attended by OJD’s Information Security Officer.​

    OJD sought to acheive a high level of statewide consistency in state court business processes as an outcome of the implementation of Oregon eCourt for two reasons:

    • To prevent implementation delays and the higher costs associated with customization  of our vendor's software​ (to accommodate local court processes) 
    • Consistency in court business processes and policies across the state courts improves public access and makes the courts user friendly to those doing business with the courts

    The Oregon eCourt Executive Sponsors directed the OJD's Enterprise Technology Services Division (ETSD) to create a Consistency Committee to examine 52 areas of court business processes to assess their potential to become statewide processes. Only a few would not be effective as statewide processes. The committee identified six areas where court's must retain the choice to keep local business processes:

    • Docketing and calendaring
    • Local court work processes and timing
    • Local reporting
    • Local data needs
    • Local partner integration
    • Local process training
     

    Your browser is out-of-date! It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how

    ×