Housing NSW is keeping Grace Information Management busy this year with the back scanning of thousands of documents required for 12 of their offices.
The government department became digital some time ago but the question of what to do with older client-based paper files first arose in 2009, following the closure of their Broadway office.
In 2010, Grace Information Management won the tender to back scan all relevant files from the Broadway office as part of a pilot project and make them digitally accessible to staff across the organisation.
According to the Department of Housing, Grace was initially chosen for the role because they were competitively priced and, more importantly, because they demonstrated a real understanding of what was needed.
Following the success of the pilot, Grace went on to back scan for a further eight Housing NSW offices that had been earmarked for refurbishment or closure.
In August 2011, Housing NSW made a business decision to link bulk digitisation to the office accommodation schedule. With over 70 offices across the state, this means that where an office is identified for refurbishment, relocation or closure, client files stored in that office are to be digitised.
Grace is continuing to meet the organisation’s needs and by the end of this year, Grace Information Management will have back scanned all client-based paper files for 22 offices.
This has already had a major impact on the Department’s productivity. Housing NSW currently receives approximately 5-6 subpoenas a week, which have a 5-day timeframe. In the past it has taken a few days to physically retrieve the relevant client files. However, digitisation has made retrieval immediate, leading to significant process improvements in these areas.
The task of back scanning for such a large organisation is no easy feat. Client files contain varying types of paper based information. The size of the file can range from approximately 50 to 300 pages; with the average size being approximately 150 pages.
The typical file contents can include, but is not limited to, a combination of the following items:
- Mixture of page sizes from receipts (less than A5) to A4
- Booklet style forms
- Light weight pages e.g. tracing paper
- Pages torn from a notepad with handwritten notes
- Post-It notes
- Torn pages that will need repair or copying prior to scanning
- Pages are either anchored in top left corner to the folder or use a 2 hole fastener on the left side of the file
- Pages may be double sided
- Pages may be folded or creased and contain staples, pins or clips
Fortunately, staff at Grace Information Management are well trained to digitise all documents, no matter what size or condition. Grace handles all aspects of the digitisation process from labour intensive task of removing staples and paper clips to checking the final images on screen.