Sanctuary Group has implemented electronic document storage and retrieval with the help of EDM Group, which has moved over 1 million documents online and continues to process a further 150,000 images each year.
Sanctuary Group, which manages 73,000 properties and employs more than 5500 staff, faced the familiar problem of finding that its paper-based documents were difficult and slow to retrieve and took up too much office space.
Sanctuary selected EDM to provide document scanning, hosting and management services using its bureau services and hosting solution, EDM online. EDM’s task was to improve document storage and consolidate Sanctuary’s files into a single repository.
The first stage of the project involved Sanctuary’s HR department, within which every employee has their own personnel file containing key HR documents, such as application forms, employment contracts and qualifications. EDM scanned the entire archive of documents in each employee’s file, resulting in over 1 million images which had to be digitised and uploaded to EDM online, enabling later retrieval via a web browser.
Lindsay Stark, HR direct team leader, Sanctuary Group, said, “In the past, if we wanted to review a document then we first had to find it in the huge basement archive which was inconvenient and often frustrating. Using EDM online means that employee documents are consolidated into a single virtual location and available from our desktops. We can also forward the documents to colleagues more easily via secure email. There is less risk of document loss – document security and auditability are inbuilt features of the service.”
As well as providing convenient access to employee records, Sanctuary also has to comply with a number of legal and regulatory requirements. Stark added, “Many of our employees work within care homes which are closely regulated by the Commission for Social Care and Inspection (CSCI). It is vital that we store and efficiently maintain the personnel documents for these employees to meet CSCI’s legal requirements. EDM online lets us access these documents quickly and efficiently.”
Having completed the archive scanning, EDM continues to process approximately 50 HR files each month, with service-level agreements guaranteeing that all documents are processed within one week of their arrival.
Once the document processing project was established in the HR department, Sanctuary Group’s asset management division adopted the EDM service for the scanning and online retrieval of utility bills, including electricity, gas and water bills.
Sanctuary is responsible for the utility bills of around 6000 meters in properties across the Group. Data from the paper bills is processed first by a third-party service provider which previously summarised the key billing information into a weekly ‘payment batch’ document.
Janine Crockett from Sanctuary Asset Management explained, “This process caused numerous problems for our staff; often we needed extra information that wasn’t included in the payment batch or we needed to see the original bill to verify some data. This was an admin-heavy operation, often requiring long telephone conversations between Sanctuary employees and our bill-processing service provider.”
Now, once the supplier has processed the bills they are passed to EDM where data from the documents is captured and uploaded to EDM online. Sanctuary staff are then able to view and check the bills via EDM online from their desktops. Crockett added, “The EDM system itself is intuitive and easy to use, so it takes very little time to train people to use it.”