Admin Set-up 4: Creating Departments

Overview

Organizing your users into departments can help you more efficiently respond to and manage requests. When you create a department you can:

  • Restrict to certain requests to only users in that department
  • Have the requester select the department when submitting a request
  • Automatically notify users in that department when new requests come in for that department (either assigned by the requester or an internal user)
  • Track request load, time spent, and average response time for that department

When you create a department you can choose whether it will be visible publicly or only internally. If a department is public, requesters can select it when submitting their request and the request will automatically be assigned to users in that department. If a department is private, it will not be visible to requests but can still be used to give access to and automatically assign requests to users internally. Internal departments could be sub-departments within a public facing department, or groups of users that work on particular categories of requests that span multiple departments. If you want to run all requests through a central coordinator, you can choose to hide department selection from the requester, so that not even public departments can be selected.

How you should set up your departments will vary depending on whether your portal is Centralized, Partially Centralized, or Decentralized. If you haven't already, review our Process Mapping Guide and identify the process category that best maps to how you want your agency to public records requests. Keep an eye out for set up recommendations that are specific to your process category.

This guide covers the following:

Watch the video or read on below for instructions on how to create departments and add users to a department.

Setting Whether a Requester Can Select a Department

You may find it useful to have the requester select the department they think is most appropriate for their request. If you want all requests to go directly to a department you can require the requester to select a department before submitting their request. The recommended department selection settings depends on whether your agency's process is Centralized, Partially Centralized, or Decentralized.

Steps for Allowing Requester Selection of a Department

  1. Click the ADMIN link in the header
  2. Click the Portal Settings link in the subheader
  3. Select 'Requester form' in the Policies section in the list on the left
  4. Select the appropriate boxes depending on your agency's process:
    • If your agency's process is Centralized: leave the box "Allow requester to assign a department" unchecked. This will require all requests to be reviewed by your portal's primary Point of Contact
    • If your agency's process is Partial Centralized: leave the box "Allow requester to assign a department" unchecked unless you are okay with some requests bypassing the central coordinator. Do not check the box "Require requester to assign a department"
    • If your agency's process is Decentralized: check the box "Allow requester to assign a department", then check the box "Require requester to assign a department". This will require all requests to go directly to a department
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save button

Creating a Department

You will want to create a department for any division or group within your agency that you want to able to automatically route requests to and/or track request volume and response time for. There are two parts to creating a department.Creating the department itself and adding users to it. These steps cover how to create the department. Information about how to add users to a department is in the next two sections.

Steps for creating a department

  1. Click the ADMIN link in the header
  2. Click the Departments link in the sub-header
  3. Click the CREATE DEPARTMENT button
  4. Enter the department name and (optional) description
  5. (Optional) Select the 'Default request visibility' for the department. This determines what users can automatically see requests assigned to the department.
    • Note: For more information about the different visibility settings and how the default visibility for departments works click here. If you want requests across all departments to have the same visibility than you should set the default visibility at the portal level.
  6. (Optional) Set the 'Department visibility' to Private. Private departments are not visible to the requester but will still grant access to requests and automatically assign users when added to a request by an internal user
  7. Click Save

Back to top

Setting the Point of Contact for a Department

If you set a Point of Contact for a department, that user will automatically become the Point of Contact for all requests assigned to that department and responsible for fulfilling the request going forward. You should set a Point of Contact for a department if you've identified your agency's process as Decentralized or Partially Decentralized.

If you have not yet created accounts for your users you should do so using this guide.

Steps for setting the Point of Contact for a department

  1. Locate the department in the list and click the Edit icon (pencil_icon_white_background.png) next to the department name
  2. Locate the drop-down labeled 'Point of Contact'
  3. Select a user from the list
    • Note: Only Publishers and Admins should be the Point of Contact, not Staff. Since the Point of Contact will be responsible for fulfilling a request, they need to be able to release documents and close requests.
  4. Click Save

Back to top

Adding Users as Department Staff

All users who should have access to a department's requests, or should be notified about all new requests for a department, should be added as Department Staff. If a user is set as the Point of Contact for a request (see previous section) then they will automatically be added as Department Staff.

If you have not yet created accounts for your users you should do so using this guide.

Steps for adding users as department staff

  1. Locate the department in the list and click the Edit icon (pencil_icon_white_background.png) next to the department name
  2. Click the Add Staff button
  3. Click the box "Type a staff name or email" and select the user from the drop-down list. You can type the first few characters of the user's name or email address to filter the list
  4. (Optional) Check the box "Assign as Support Staff to all requests assigned to this department”: these staff will automatically be assigned as Support Staff to all requests that are assigned to this department. Department members who are not auto-assigned to requests will still be able to view all requests assigned to the department but will not receive notifications about the request.
  5. Click the SAVE button

Back to top

Removing Users from a Department

To remove a user from a department, open the department for editing and click the Remove button next to the user you want to remove, then click OK to confirm. If the user will no longer be working in the NextRequest portal you should also deactivate their account in the user list.

Back to top

Changing the visibility of a department

To change the visibility of a department, go to the Department tab and locate the department in the list. If the department is Public, you will see a "Make Private" button which you can click to make the department Private. If the department is Private, you will see a "Make Public" button which you can click to make the department Public

Back to top

Deactivating and Reactivating Departments

If you no longer want a department to be visible in the department drop-downs for either requesters or internal users, you can deactivate the department. Deactivated departments will still be listed on any requests that they were already assigned to. To deactivate a department, go to the Department tab and click the Deactivate button next to the one you want to deactivate.

To reactivate a department, click the toggle "Show deactivated departments" under the search box, locate the department, then click the "Activate" button

Back to top