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Digitised document management – a sustainable solution

Thursday December 12th, 2013
Mark Kirpalani

Mark Kirpalani

With widespread budget cuts being made across the public sector, it’s easy to understand why environmental concerns have increasingly taken a back seat to cost-saving strategies. Yet with increased pressure from the EU, consideration still needs to be given to environmental concerns. This pressure may include, for example, impending revisions to the Clean Air Act, improved waste management or European Directives aimed at refining the eco-design of technology and other energy-related products.

Rather than being an unwanted cost, in some cases, the introduction of new working practices can bring substantial gains, helping to save time, reduce energy costs and cut waste.

This has certainly proved true of automated document management processing, which is increasingly being used in local authorities. In large metropolitan areas, for example, councils may operate more than 100 separate sites and need to share documents on a daily basis. It makes far more sense to send the documents electronically, rather than transport them manually between sites. As well as the environmental impact of printing documents, transportation costs can be considerable, making the entire process expensive and inconvenient. Similarly, documents often take up floor space which could be better utilised. As well as storing, retrieving and sharing files more effectively, digitising document management processes also ensures that everyone is looking at – and working on – the latest versions of relevant documents.

When adding new information and files, the use of classification enables measurable data to be quickly identified and instantly passed to the right business stream or workflow. For example, by scanning third-party invoices as soon as they enter the organisation, an electronic copy can be delivered instantly to the correct work stream and payment issued quickly. This is far more efficient than waiting for a hard copy to arrive and, in turn, improves customer service.

A few years ago, Enfield Council introduced a new scanning process which captured paper-based invoices daily and adapted those arriving electronically into a standard format. Additionally, the solution implemented converted images into a format that could be added directly into the organisation’s SAP system.

Since adopting this centralised invoicing strategy and high-end capture and conversion process, the council has gained complete transparency across its entire accounts payable area. A supplier survey which followed the project revealed more than 50% of the businesses’ partners had noticed an improvement in the speed and reliability of the council’s payment processes.

Overall, this centralised capture process not only provided direct enhancements to the council’s invoice processing but also provided a sustainable way to generate further efficiencies across the organisation.

From a wider business perspective, digitised document management has much to offer the public sector, particularly in the areas of compliance, disaster recovery, staff productivity and overall efficiency. At a time of continued financial scrutiny, it’s a prime example of how, in some cases, greener working can actually be an enabler for business.

Mark Kirpalani, Managing Director, Capital Capture

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