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Effective electronic document management – the lynchpin of e-government


Without electronic document management no local authority could meet government deadlines for implementing 100% electronic public service delivery by 2005


Local authorities are faced with an information management crisis – one only has to look at the number of headlines relating to benefit failure – several London Boroughs are under siege as pensioners are wrongly threatened with eviction or genuine claimants fail to receive benefits.

This autumn, Breckland Revenues and Benefits Manager, Adrian Warman, faced a hostile local radio presenter to answer why Breckland had been forced to close a Benefits Office. The answer was the backlog in dealing with the new Housing Benefit Validation strategy. As he said; “Thank goodness for R/KYV otherwise I don’t know what we would have done.”

Understanding that electronic document management provides the basis on which to build a complete e-strategy is obvious to Valid’s many local authority clients including Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council who bought the R/KYV corporate solution last September in a deal worth £1.8m, expressly to enable it to provide better on-line services and open access to its citizens.

Chair of the Finance and General Sub-committee, Councillor Brian Millard, said “We are a very large organisation responsible for providing a huge range of services for a population of almost 300,000 citizens. At the touch of a button an officer will have immediate access to the right information, and they will be able to respond much more rapidly and effectively.

“Successful businesses use new technology to increase their efficiency – the public also deserves a high level of efficiency from the Council, and we see this as the way ahead for the future
.”

The authority-wide system will eventually contain all electronic information that is produced by the Council and will scan and capture all externally produced documents.


The plethora of demands emanating from the e-government strategy covers every department from this year’s deadline on e-procurement to the ongoing Best Value, Housing Validation Strategy and the Invest to Save Scheme, among others. Electronic document management systems such as R/KYV are essential to these initiatives by making paper-based information easily accessible to organisations and citizens via the Internet and Intranet.


CASE STUDY: Suffolk County Council runs first virtual committee

Suffolk County Council has pioneered the use of document management using R/KYV on an Intranet and Internet to create the UK’s first total virtual committee

“The role of the modern councillor demands the quick communication and access to information that only ICT can provide. I am delighted with the speed with which the vast majority of Suffolks’ councillors have taken to the technology to the point that they rely on it for their daily work. The new technologies, including the Internet and document management, are forming the enabling foundation for a better way of doing business for councillors and council officers, and more importantly for citizens. Citizens can expect better services, more conveniently delivered, and to have more of a say in local affairs.”






Council Leader Chris Mole

Suffolk County Council is leading the way in implemented Tony Blair’s e-government strategy set out in the recent Modernising Government
White Paper. The resulting Information Age Government focuses on better services for citizens and businesses and more effective use of the Government’s information resources. This will mean using e-business applications throughout the public sector so completely transforming government activities.

In adopting these principles, Suffolk has installed the document management system, R/KYV, turning unwieldy paper-based systems into an open and accessible electronic format. Departments, including the, Fire Service, Press Office and Committee Services information are all now on-line with information available internally through the council’s Intranet to some 3,300 users while Committee Reports Information is available to the public through the Internet. Interestingly, when the website was updated complaints were received from Suffolk residents unable to access the Reports.
Suffolk is also believed to be the first council to set up a totally virtual committee on July 2000 with the Policy Panel reporting to the Theme Panel via the Intranet without ever attending County Hall. Suffolk leads the way in the provision of ICT (information and communication technology) for its council members with 77 out of 80 (three declined) having PCs, printers and digital line (ISDN or Business Highway) at home. With PCs and printers at County Hall, members have access to email, Intranet, Internet and office automation and are able to work remotely as with the Policy Panel where members posted reports and comments on the Intranet with security guaranteed by the use of passwords.

R/KYV was chosen as the optimum system for supporting the four guiding principles of e-government: building services around citizens’ choices; making government and its services more accessible; social inclusion and using information better. It is clear that R/KYV, a comprehensive document management system that includes a workflow component and the immediate updating of data as it is input, would dramatically improve access of information to both internal users of the system as well as 635,500 members of the public. Furthermore, accountability and legal compliance are assured through the system’s version control functionality and its adherence to the latest British Standards Institute’s guideline, BSI PD008–9, governing legal admissibility of electronic documentation.


The speed and ease of installation was also a big bonus. R/KYV was installed in November 1998 and the Press Office went live in January ’99, followed by Fire Service in March and Committee Reports in July. For the Press Office, the drive centred on a need to improve cross document searching and boost the availability of information while for the Fire Service, R/KYV enabled the implementation of a scan and shred policy as well as providing a single point of enquiry for their Officers. As far as Committee Reports were concerned, version control, a reduction of paper and improving access of information were all seen as critical.


Suffolk Trading Standards Department is the latest department to embrace Document Management, with a decision from their Management Team that approved the transfer of their Administration Filing system from paper-based to electronic. As all documents are OCR’d (Optical Character Recognition), so turning them into readable text on input, they can immediately be searched, filtered and stored according to any number of criteria. Additionally, invoices are being input into R/KVY rather than taking photocopies. Furthermore, R/KYV is set to integrate with Oracle Financials to automate the entire invoicing process. This new usage of the system serves to show the flexibility and openness of the program, a necessity for any organisation thinking about implementing new software.


With the implementation of such a flexible and scalable system, it is felt that the use of R/KYV should not be limited to those Departments mentioned above. Promotion of the benefits of Document Management within Suffolk County Council has gained interest within Personnel, Education and Environment & Transport to name but a few. Libraries & Heritage who, amongst their many duties, are responsible for the management of the Suffolk County Archive have also showed interest in the use of R/KYV.


Suffolk County Council, one of the larger county councils, employing some 14,566 full-time staff and managing a budget of £467.1m, has shown itself to be a trailblazer in terms of e-government by using information and communication technology to improve the delivery of local government services. R/KYV has enabled Suffolk County Council to streamline operations and through dramatically improved communications - some 3,300 staff can be instantly emailed with updates from press releases to Committee Minutes - can deliver a more customer-focused, efficient service in a pleasant work environment.

One of the key advantages of R/KYV is the ease with which it can be tailored to suit a wide variety of applications. Suffolk County Council demonstrates just how an effective user can exploit the potential of the system. Not only has Suffolk taken full advantage of the customising toolkit – both in the look and feel of the system it has also paved the way for R/KYV to operate as a corporate system involved in every aspect of local government.
See the website www.suffolkcc.gov.uk/central/awards.html (for details of some of the prestigious web awards including Winner of the LGA Website 1999 for Reinvigorating Local Democracy and short-listed for the LGC Council of the Year Award 1999 as well as many others.)




Caradon District Council selects Valid Information Systems for its corporate information management

R/KYV’s unique modular format permits true integration with Academy and other leading software



Caradon District Council


Dennis Humby Operations Manager Caradon District Council: “Of all the systems we reviewed R/KYV was unique in that its modular format allows true integration with Academy's software as well as our existing systems. This allows us to treat Valid's document management system as a corporate umbrella for the whole council which will assist us greatly as we continue the progress towards Best Value.”

Caradon District Council is located in Liskeard, southeast Cornwall, a rural area heavily dependent on tourism. The Council employs some 250 staff and manages a budget in excess of £7.7m. Caradon has a population of approximately 80,000 spread across an area of 256 square miles.

Caradon was looking to implement a corporate-wide document management system that would eliminate the need for storage of paper files and streamline the manual processes involved through an effective storage and retrieval solution. R/KYV (pronounced Archive) was chosen as it satisfied all Caradon’s criteria as well as being the most future proof and scalable system on offer. The system also complies with the Data Protection Act through its adherence to the latest British Standards Institute’s guideline, BSI PD0008 –9, governing legal admissibility of electronic documentation.

As mentioned by Dennis Humby, key to R/KYV’s implementation is its open architecture that facilitated the necessary integration with other programs including Academy’s housing benefit and council tax systems and as UNI-form’s planning application software. Also important is the ease with which R/YYV provides management with monitoring information, including relevant statistics through its Reports facility, which will allow you to email or print information such as an Excel spreadsheet or Word document at predetermined intervals.

The integration with the line-of-business applications used in the Benefits and Local Taxation Units means retyping of indexing fields is kept to a minimum. R/KYV also uses proven technology and software so minimising customisation. The system uses standards and open interfaces wherever possible to enable interoperability with other DMS (document management systems) and components, reducing the risks inherent in proprietary software.

It was Caradon’s requirement that the Housing Benefits office would be the first to go live. A major exercise was to scan the historical benefits files using Valid’s bureau services. Regular collections of the Housing Benefit files were made from Caradon’s offices and the first images became available to staff, following training, at the end of May 1999, as copies of the images were loaded onto the servers after each batch was scanned. The back scanning of almost 250,000 images was completed by September 1999.

The next stage was to introduce a basic workflow to the Benefits office. This was accomplished at the end of November 1999. The workflow facility enables batches of documents to be scanned, indexed then routed automatically to the appropriate officer or team. Indexing of the documents was aided by the introduction of the powerful ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) link between R/KYV and the Academy Revenue and Benefits software.

It is now planned that Caradon’s benefits office will introduce full workflow in September 2000. This will enable the whole process to be automated from calculating the benefit to sending notification the recipient, this includes routing documents to anywhere in the office, producing letters with personalised information and creating an electronic pending file until sufficient information is received to process the document.

At this time the DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) link that exists between R/KYV and Academy Revenues and Benefits will be initiated. This powerful feature allows information to be shared or communicated between programs and will enable users to call up documents, relating to the claim or account they are dealing with, using one mouse click, directly from within the Academy Revenues and Benefits system. Conversely, it allows the correct claim or account record to be displayed in the Academy Revenues and Benefits system by a simple mouse click whilst looking at an image from the R/KYV system.


Since October 1999, running in parallel with the Revenues and Benefits implementation, was the setting up of a database and scanning of planning application files. This is almost half way though with some 375,000 images having been scanned to date.


The implementation will grow from the initial 40 users in Local Taxation and Benefits Departments to 250 users over the whole Council. This scalability is to be achieved by the addition rather than replacement of hardware and software.

Other service units are now impatient to be the next receiving attention as it continues to be rolled out corporately.

 

In this month's edition of Document Management Update:

Lotus unveils Raven Discovery Server. more>>
Deutsche Bank chooses IBM WebSphere Translation Server. more>>
Zurich deploys Autonomy in worldwide risk engineering extranet. more>>
Feature: The need for content management. more>>
eRooms launches eRooms 5.0 - Richard Croasdale finds out how the company plans to differentiate collaboration tool from Microsoft rival. more>>
Documentum launches 4i Portal content edition. more>>

 

 

 

 

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