The revenues department at Barnet Council in London has improved the speed and efficiency of its document handling by using a managed document processing service.
The council said efficiency gains paid for the initiative within three months, and form part of its bid to achieve an "excellent" rating from the Audit Commission's Comprehensive Performance Assessment programme.
With the Docs Online document processing service, from Anite, all of the department's post is directed to a document centre managed by the managed services supplier, as well as any online forms submitted by Barnet's residents. Dedicated staff at the centre scan and index all the documents to a tight turnaround schedule that the council said it could not match in-house.
Once scanned, the indexed images of the incoming documents are delivered to the revenues team's e-mail inbox, enabling council staff to get on with the core business of processing them while freed of the accompanying paper-based administration that was previously routine.
Another benefit of the outsourced business process is that it eliminates the peaks and troughs of efficiency brought about through external factors such as staff sickness and holidays. It also improves business continuity capabilities through the provision of archiving and document storage.
Document scanning and indexing was previously carried out by council staff, but Barnet Council found it to be a laborious and time-consuming activity.
Dave Sharpe, head of revenues at Barnet, said, "Our systems in revenues are entirely reliant on IT and in order to maintain and improve on the high standards we have set ourselves, a swift turnaround of document capture is very important."
He said e-government requirements and the Gershon efficiency review agenda were seeking both capital savings and improved efficiency, and the project scored on both counts.
Some of the savings made at the council have been achieved through the reallocation of the office space that was used to perform administrative document-processing functions. The risk of scanner downtime has also been eliminated. Previously, this could result in backlogs of work building up.
Sharpe said the council's integration of Docs Online into its processes would continue to evolve over time. "Docs Online is a living product which we expect to grow and changeÉ as the department does."
He said technical integration issues had been easily dealt with, enabling all of the council's relevant internal systems to link with the Docs Online service.