The EDM Group has delivered a £275,000 document management project for Wakefield and District Housing, giving WDH easy and accurate access to housing files and other critical documents as well as improving the processing of purchase invoices. During the implementation, EDM processed 4.5 million document images and now hosts more than 6 million images for WDH on its managed database.
As a result of this project, time spent accessing property and tenant information has been reduced by 75 per cent, equating to a £150,000 annual saving. Furthermore, 215 square metres of floor space which was previously used for WDH’s 240 filing cabinets has been freed up for desks and staff rest areas.
Paul Wood, service director for ICT, Wakefield and District Housing, said, “We moved to new headquarters in 2006, bringing together 300 employees from numerous WDH offices. We decided then that it would not be practical to continue storing large amounts of paper documents at the new site and we should move to an online process. Further investigation into our processes also showed that a significant amount of front-line employees’ time was spent tracking down paper files. The digitisation of these files would give more time back to front-line staff, which could be better spent with customers.”
WDH, an RSL which manages 31,000 properties in the Wakefield area, decided in 2007 to improve the way it handled housing files by converting them into digital format and hosting the files on an easily-accessible internet-based platform. EDM was chosen for the project to deliver both a high-volume document scanning service and a document management system, EDM Online, for the storage and retrieval of these regularly-accessed documents.
One challenge during the project was to make sure that the location and status of all files was always known during the physical movement and subsequent conversion processes. EDM used barcode technology to associate individual files with shipping boxes and processing jobs and tie in with Bureau Manager systems, as well as facilitating the accurate capture of the index data which is crucial to the system’s future document search and retrieval capabilities.
To minimise errors in the capture of index data, EDM used data from WDH’s existing housing management system to generate the file-specific bar-coded cover sheets. These unique references were then read by EDM’s post-scanning processing system and associated with the file images. The data was then merged with the housing management system extract within EDM Online, resulting in index data which was 100 per cent accurate.
Wood said, “EDM has delivered numerous benefits. The cost of maintaining files has decreased, valuable office space has been freed up due to the removal of all manual filing systems, and operational efficiency has been dramatically increased through improved access to files.”
WDH can now make all relevant documentation available to field-based employees as well as those in its main offices. Wood concluded, “We have over 350 employees who primarily worked with paper files in the past who can now easily access the digital images within seconds of logging onto the EDM Online site. This can be done from the office, at home or on the move. The searching is simple and intuitive, and the accuracy of index data and the quality of the electronic images has exceeded expectations.”