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City of Edinburgh Council – a Document Management solution Case Study

January 8, 2011

The City of Edinburgh Council’s Document Management Dilemma

ProcessFlows supplied the City of Edinburgh Council with an Alchemy document management system to support a hosted, online electronic database of all drainage records and maps for Edinburgh.

All documents dating back as far as 1875 are held within the Alchemy repository which can be accessed via the internet and viewed from any location; helping those with any drainage emergency or planning works to get the information they need quickly.

Alchemy has proved so successful that the cost of document scanning, indexing and implementing Alchemy was recovered as soon as the system went live – Tim Rayner, Senior Conservation Officer, the City of Edinburgh Council

Historic documents needed to be preserved and manual look-up processes improved

The Council wanted to stop further damage to the historic drainage records which was occurring with repeated manual look-up.

The old system required staff to physically pull the original documents. It was not unusual for clerical staff to receive over twenty requests a day from builders, architects and utility companies to view the drainage records.

This took up a lot of staff time and resulted in wear and tear to the documents from constant browsing, photocopying and faxing.

In addition, Scottish Water engineers were damaging the drainage system as it was not quick or easy to reference the drainage maps for a particular site before they started digging.

Convert the paper documents into electronic format and store them in an easy-to-access document management system

Making the documents available in electronic format would preserve the originals for posterity, save clerical time and improve access for everyone.

A joint project was set up between the City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Water to achieve this.

The Council opted for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

ProcessFlows supplied the City Council with an OpenText Alchemy document management solution and the Alchemy Web module; which enables third party hosting of the solution.

There was no impact on internal IT

The Alchemy application was implemented swiftly and the capture and conversion of documents into electronic format, destined to be stored in Alchemy began.

ProcessFlow’s Channel Partner, Capture All, scanned and indexed all legacy records into the Alchemy hosted document management repository

Meticulous indexing and scanning means that contractors, surveyors, architects and the wider public able to access the drainage site plans within minutes via any web enabled device directly from the Council website.

Users are seamlessly directed to the hosted website where they have access to all records stored on the Alchemy server.

No more broken drains

Scottish Water employees are able to view maps on site before they start digging; which means that work no longer has to be halted whilst hard copies of records are requested. Existing drains are no longer damaged and new works can be successfully completed in a timely manner.

Historic records are preserved against further wear and tear

These unique records really are vital to the people of Edinburgh and it would have been disastrous to lose them – Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, Executive Member for Finance and Resources

Building on their Alchemy investment

As well as helping with the drain problem, Alchemy is improving processes in other areas.

Street naming:

Alchemy is being used to manage all documents associated with street naming. Information on pending and completed requests for every street in Edinburgh is available to the public online.

Claim processing:

Alchemy has improved the process of reclaiming monies due from private property owners for statutory building repairs.

A historic City like Edinburgh has many ancient buildings and it is inevitable that they fall into a state of disrepair. Although 82% of buildings are privately owned, the Council has the power to intervene and carry out a compulsory repair on any building that is deteriorating and pass on the repair bill to the owner of that property.

The Council operates an online work allocation and invoicing platform, built in conjunction with the Royal Bank of Scotland, to ensure that contractors are paid within 48 hours of completing works.

Slow payment ultimately hits the bottom line

Chasing the building owners to reclaim the cost of works is an ongoing problem. Having to manually collate the paperwork relating building repairs to the correct property owner exacerbated the problem; causing a further delay in reimbursements which inevitably had a negative impact on the bottom line.

Staff had to search through a library of over 100,000 microfiche images and 500,000 paper records, which filled entire rooms within the Council offices. It’s a tedious and time consuming task.

Improved cash flow

Putting all documentation into Alchemy ensures that the processing of building repair reimbursement claims happens in a fraction of the time, as documents can now be searched, found and verified at the desktop. This is giving the Council a welcome boost to their cash flow.

Hosted Document Management is cost effective, efficient and saves time and provides web access to all your records

Web access to records: Improve efficiency and save time

In times of austerity, a hosted document management solution (SaaS) makes sound business sense.

Being able to efficiently manage documents is a key contributor to the success of any organisation. If you can find information easily and quickly, your business will run a lot more smoothly than one whose paperwork is in such a terrible muddle it takes hours to locate a single document; giving you a competitive advantage and an aura of efficiency.

ProcessFlows is able to provide a totally hosted document management solution so you can access all records remotely from any web enabled device – laptop, blackberry, smart phone etc.

  • You have all the benefits of an in-house document management solution for a fraction of the cost, with no hassle installing a new server, software, updates etc
  • From day one, efficiency will be improved as you can now find all your documents quickly from any web-enabled device – PC, tablet, smartphone etc
  • Constant access to the information you need 24/7 increases productivity and business resilience and decreases costs
  • ‘Built-in’ Disaster Recovery insures that you never lose any data or have to worry about fire and theft, as all your data and files are held in a secure data centre
  • Payment options to suit your budget: monthly or annual contract

Manage your documents so you can find them easily

Every organisation strives to find the best way of managing their paperwork so it’s easily located for future reference. A document management system will undoubtedly help, but not every company wants to install and manage an in-house system. Cost, time and resource are all restrictions.

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