Western Bay of Plenty District Council On Demand Scanning & Electronic Process Research Project

Between email and online services, the need for hardcopy mail has all but disappeared. However, the paperless office is still far from a reality, especially if you are responsible for the property records associated with an area of 212,000 hectares across 5 wards in the Western Bay of Plenty.

At the beginning of 2011, Western Bay of Plenty District Council commissioned a review of their business processes for activities round the creation of property file records. The ultimate aim of the review was to determine whether it was feasible to establish on demand scanning and an end-to-end electronic process.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council's IT Manager, Marion Dowd, engaged Destin Consulting Limited to provide information management consulting services including conducting the initial review of existing processes and tools, and completing a pilot research project to advise on standards, procedures, effectiveness and achievable efficiencies of electronic capture and management.

Destin Consulting applies the Destin Methodology to all their projects, enabling Project Manager Chris Shaw to rapidly establish the programme of work and to engage with key stakeholders. Chris worked closely with Marion's team of Business and Systems Analysts and in-house Records Specialists as part of the Destin "one team" approach.

The project looked at customer (internal and public) requirements as well as considering the Council's responsibilities under the Public Records Act and other key legislation. Using liquor licensing for the pilot, the primary focus was on the development of a new business process required to profile, digitise, describe and store liquor licensing records.  The aim was to make the tools and methods used for this process repeatable and reusable.

The review concluded that there were some shortcomings in the current processes and tools. A critical limitation was found with the existing scanning software in handling large numbers of scanned pages. The impact of this limitation is a significant increase in the wait time for the processing of the scanned images, thus diminishing the value of scanning records.  Alternative software solutions are being reviewed by the Council. The labour intensive nature of back scanning existing property files was also highlighted in the Destin report and the Council are currently looking at the options associated with this task.

Despite the identified issues the review concluded that there was benefit to be gained from an end-to-end electronic process and Destin Consulting were able to provide the Council with:

  • A revised business process to supply property files electronically
  • Draft tools and methods to support this process (finalisation subject to the Council's decision on alternative scanning software)
  • Documented four-step process to undertake the capture of historic files, including standards, procedures and quality assurance for record capture
  • (Temporary) solution for capturing new property files without the delays of the existing scanning software
  • Buy-in to and understanding of new processes and procedures by relevant Council employees through the Destin Consulting client advocate or “one team” approach
  • Recommendations for further improvements of data accuracy and quality.
"Destin's project approach and undertaking the pilot has provided us with a clear understanding of a methodology and approach to digitising our records for related processes going forward.  We are in a much better position now to understand the scale and requirements of the project." said Marion Dowd.

The Council now has the means in place for an end-to-end electronic process. With regard to the existing property record files the question remains to scan as a bulk one off exercise or as individual files are accessed, or not to scan at all. Whatever the decision on back scanning, the project has succeeded in halting the growth of the paper records and taken Western Bay of Plenty District Council a significant step closer to their goal of providing all property files to customers in electronic format.


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