Document management made smarter: Lessons from Service SA
Most organizations are striving to achieve a paperless operation. There are many ways to do that and the most common method is scanning existing paper documents to convert it to electronic form, and scanning all incoming paper documents while introducing digitized forms across the organization.
But not when you have to deal with 50 million documents sitting on huge warehouses, with 10 million more coming each year.
Not surprisingly, the journey of Services South Australia (Service SA), a government agency in the southern central part of Australia that serves as a front door for citizen services, is very challenging one.
Ray Moore Manager, Web/Data/Print Solutions, Service SA, estimates that the agency would still need three and a half years to finish the digitization process of existing documents. The goal is to be completely digital in five years.
Speaking at Laserfiche’s annual conference, Empower 2017, held in Long Beach, California last month, Moore shares this valuable tips for organizations and enterprises embarking on the same journey.
Services SA leveraged its existing partnership with its value-added reseller (VAR), Ricoh, for the use of multifunction devices for document scanning and worked with them to create a proof of concept for what it wants to achieve, including document analysis, workflow definition, repository design and workflow design and build.
“We started with a three-server configuration, we now have up to five servers. And we plan to grow that area as our storage and workflows require,” he says.
1. Define the data.
Moore says that the first step is to have a very detailed definition of the data that needs to be captured in the document template for upload and processing purposes.
“What data is needed to be sent to the business system for a successful transaction and what data is needed to support the exception process. We spend lots of time on this, probably more on doing this right than on any other aspect of the project,” he says.
2. Establish a workflow definition.
Even prior to implementing Laserfiche solution, Service SA attests they already determined what is going to be the process for handling documents. “It is important for us to determine how do we handle these pieces of paper and control them or control their receipt because some of these documents contain highly sensitive information such as personal medical records, which is the highest classification of personal data that we hold in SA on citizens,” he says.
“We have to think of all these steps in actually managing this project and map it out. It is important for us to be confident of the logistics, storage, workspaces, layout and scanning facilities. It also makes process change easier to explain to all the staff and issues of change management,” he adds.
Services SA took control of the government printing facility in 2015 and the organization has noted the decline of the demand for printing. So that part of the organization moved into scanning and handling paper for scanning rather than actually printing.
“This is changing the competency mix,” Moore says. “The work that needs to be done must go through a change management process,” he says.
3. Pay attention to the navigational structure.
In the proof of concept, Service SA’s navigational structure of the repository needed for the workflow process is to ensure that items falling into the exceptions are easily identified, there are shortcuts for placing and processing files, the original file was always followed according to its form type and the due date, year, month, date.
“This structure makes it easy to be located beyond the use of search. And search by the way, in Laserfiche, is extremely powerful and very reliable,” he says. “So this structure makes it easy for us to locate the files throughout the process. And beyond the use of search.
4. Using forms and repository design.
Moore says they use workflow capabilities within Laserfiche extensively to manage the automation and data export functionality.
“We are gradually building our own internal resources. When you use the workflow designer, there's a riot of tools that you can use and in fact, you can use different parts of the tools set to accomplish the same function. Beyond that, we are using two volumes within our repository - one for processing for automation and another for storage,” he explains.
As the agency owns several repositories and expertise, a logical step would be to establish a bureau or a service is particularly important for us because it helps us break even from our total investment plus make a profit for the business and bring back a return. That even extends into integration with other electronic document management systems.
5. Think business value
The government printer that Services SA took over provides in-house printing services for government agencies and for parliament. However, demand for printing has been in decline for a long time and its working staff of around 400 in the 1990s dropped to five currently.
“I took over the government printing function in July 2015 and it is a million dollar loss business. We turned that around now. About 90 percent of the day is involved in print functions that we weren't really using and productivity is less than 50 percent. There is a pre-logical conclusion that we need to change. We have a list of clients - government agencies - lining up and wants to get on board and use our solutions, which we sell a reasonable price,” Moore recounts.
He added that the organization owns several repositories and expertise and is thinking of establishing a bureau service. “It is particularly important for us because it helps us break even from our total investment, plus make a profit for the business and bring back a return,” he says.
Bonus Point: “And my advice is if you are starting with Laserfiche in order to get the gravitas, get the buy in and get other people engaged, pick something that is challenging but achievable,” Moore says.
“Laserfiche is a very seductive piece of software and when you first sign into it, it is very easy not to read the manual. I spent weeks tinkering with the interface but if I just read the manual I would have done it in a much quicker time. So the Laserfiche support side has a lot of answers. There's lots of information,” he concludes.