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5 benefits of going digital in local government

Paper records can be costly to store and hard to find. We look at five benefits of moving your records to digital. 

Paper records are increasingly regarded as an issue to many local government organisations. They can be surprisingly costly to store; can take inordinate amounts of time to produce, administer and locate; and are not always the most viable solution. 

Instead of paper, we look at five benefits of moving your records to digital. 

[1] Become a paperless office

It often goes without any real acknowledgement the time taken by staff to handle paper – which can include: dealing with correspondence, filing reports, sourcing archived records, checking records are up-to-date, mailing (or emailing)  documents to other locations, and more – but when you add those hours together it can be alarmingly high. Wouldn’t you rather staff were spending their time serving your citizens?

This is precisely what Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council’s Revenues & Benefits department looked to do. Looking at more efficient ways of working, they chose NPS’ offsite service team to scan all inbound mail and index into Information@Work. The Revenues & Benefits team at Sandwell now operate more effectively as a paperless office. 

[2] Cost savings on storage space

“The total height of the archive boxes collected during this project would exceed that of six Empire State Buildings.” This is a quote taken directly from the Systems and Transactional Development Manager at the London Borough of Redbridge, after we completed a mass digitisation project with them. To put that incredible thought into context, that would be close to 1.5 miles of end-to-end boxes filled with paper records!

You can imagine that this number of paper records, exceeding 13 million when all is said and done, requires a lot of space for storage. And obviously, storage space costs money – especially in city-centre locations. Now imagine how much is saved by either converting this space into something more worthwhile, such as drop-in centres or one-stop-shops for citizens, or by removing the entire cost of this space, generating additional savings to your organisation.

[3] Less time spent searching for records

Your entire archive of records is dependent on: 

  • good filing
  • a robust system for the organisation
  • a lack of human error
  • available storage space (e.g. your records being spread across multiple rooms or even sites)
  •  ease of accessibility (e.g. your records being off-site, needing to be ordered in). 

When you have millions of paper records to administer it becomes frustratingly easy to misfile and misplace important information. 

This has a large knock-on effect when information is requested but not easily located, adding to more valuable staff time being spent looking for documents. A digitised document management system can help reduce this, placing information just a couple of mouse clicks away (rather than trawling through endless filing cabinets or rows of shelves of archived documents).

[4] Meets the needs of a mobile workforce by being web-based

Agile working is a popular term right now. Organisations are recognising the need to empower their staff to deliver the same, high-level service where, when and how they choose; whether it is by work-at-home employees or on-the-go staff (e.g. food inspection officers undertaking on-site inspections).

Our latest document management services – such as Information@Work Enterprise, the next level in Electronic Document Management – have been designed to be web-based (not desktop- or app-based) to enable easier access from any device. Additionally, it is easily scalable to meet the demands of different departments and tasks across the whole of your Council.

This means information is not only easier for everyone to access but also easier to record/upload/file/save – however you want to say it – and instantly available as a result.

[5] Validated data provides a holistic view of each customer

Moving to a digital service helps mitigate common problems experienced in having paper records and archive-dedicated space. These include issues such as: 

  • misfiling
  • record duplication
  • record accuracy and damage
  • losing records entirely
  • issues surrounding security
  • the productivity of staff (i.e. how they spend their time)
  • general accessibility (i.e. are records on-site or off-site? How long does it take records to reach the team/person requesting them?)

If there is a single digital source of truth for every customer your organisation has quick, secure access to a highly reliable holistic view of the people you serve. Not only do you avoid the issues listed above but you also have a greater view to, ultimately, provide a better service.

With such incredible benefits, the time is surely right for your organisation to go digital? Our team is on-hand to discuss and guide you to a greater future – contact us now.