Having worked in the housing sector for over 20 years, it’s safe to say that housing providers are no longer questioning the business case for business transformation but have moved onto the more pertinent question of ‘how do we do it?’.
Whatever stage of this transformation journey you are on, your records and their security, availability and effective management throughout your organisation are key to driving real business change and compliance.
So, what do we say to our customers who are thinking about record management solutions? It starts with four simple questions: where are your records, how secure are they, can you handle subject-access requests and are you GDPR compliant? To which the answers are commonly:
- a) All over the place;
- b) We’re not sure;
- c) Yes, but it’s time-consuming;
- d) Not as much as we’d like to be.
I’m proud to say that we’ve worked with around 160 housing providers who’ve faced these questions and we have come out the other end knowing what ‘good’ looks like.
What does a good EDRM system look like?
When taking steps to review an EDRM solution, it’s much more than just scanning documents to the cloud and shredding the originals. It’s about content. Your EDRM system needs to cope with any type of content, from physical data, emails, text messages, media files, electronic forms and unified communications, to data that is captured in the field via your engineers or other staff working remotely in your communities and neighbourhoods. A true EDRM system should capture any interaction with anyone, anytime and anywhere, and ideally from any device.
On the other side of capture and storage is the fast and efficient on-demand retrieval of customer records. This is where your organisation begins to see true productivity gains because your staff are no longer spending ages looking through filing cabinets for a single record. The average record retrieval time within EDRM systems should be seconds. This same speed and ease of access to information applies to your customers too. With self-service applications on the rise, your customers can access vital documentation such as rent statements, newsletters, reminder letters and gas certificates.
So here comes the Castleton plug… all good EDRM systems should do the above, however Castleton Technology’s EDRM is designed from the ground up, uniquely with and for the social housing sector. Our user interface, folder structures, document tagging, subject-access requests, record security and document redaction functions are purpose-built for social housing providers. Because we are sector-focused, we’ve built up an intimate knowledge of tasks that need to be performed on a daily basis and how housing providers want to interact with the system to get the most from their investment.
GDPR-friendly document retention policies and the automation of rules can be set against data retention guidance from the National Housing Federation. Furthermore, our OCR capability means users can search and find specific records quickly, as well as automatically storing documents such as invoices on receipt with no manual intervention required.
Fundamental to our suite of software is its open API architecture, allowing all of our solutions to integrate with other back-office systems in the housing sector and EDRM is no different. Thanks to this ease of integration with third-party software, we partner with other solutions providers such as Aareon, Capita and Orchard on EDRM projects and we continue to develop new and emerging partnerships thanks to the flexibility of our platform.
Workforce mobilisation is a must and probably at the forefront of your business transformation strategy. If you use our Agile solution or an alternative field-based management system, you can seamlessly access EDRM through your Staff Agile app by instantly saving forms and images taken in your tenants’ homes. Through our own EDRM solution, all your tenants can access and view their records using portals such as our Castleton .Digital solution.
What’s stopping you?
Embracing new technology and new ways of working is no easy task, even if the new ways of working seem pretty obvious. People can be the biggest barrier here and you may have already experienced this in other areas of your business transformation project.
Organisations obviously need to carefully manage this cultural shift towards digitalisation, but I can understand the resistance. Buying into the security of electronic records when you can’t physically see them can be difficult if you are used to having your records in an on-premise filing system under lock and key. But in the event of a fire, there is no insurance policy or possible retrieval of fire-damaged records.
Over simplified? Yes, but the message is clear; EDRM solutions offer secure storage and high availability of your records to designated users on demand. Wrapped within a cloud-based environment, there’s no better insurance policy to protect your records and mitigate the risk of data breaches or losses. You need to consider all back-office systems you already have when reviewing an EDRM system, and whether it can become your one central system for record storage and retrieval, without the need for duplication or the double-storage of records elsewhere.
These days, EDRM is essential. If you don’t yet have an enterprise-wide EDRM solution, don’t drop any further behind. One final plug… our team is happy to help with any demonstrations and put you in touch with customers who have gone through the process and are seeing real business change.
James Massey is the chief operating officer of Castleton Technology.