To rationalize and digitize decades worth of paper records to reduce physical storage needs and costs, and increase operational agility
London is famous for its sense of history but in 2012, the city’s borough of Camden realized it was storing too many old paper records. It held thousands of boxes of documents, ranging from tenancy agreements to town planning diagrams, contracts, and even a collection of 35,000 historic illustrations – across eight offices. Lined up side by side on a shelf, these records would have extended for 22,000 meters.
More records were held at off-site storage locations managed through contracts with four suppliers, each with their own rates and service agreements.
“This was a staggering amount, far higher than initial estimates and meant the task ahead would be huge,” says Richard O’Brien, the manager appointed to lead the Council’s Paper Reduction Project. A range of systems were used to manage the Council’s records, making it hard for staff to quickly locate or search records when needed. The amount of paper, related costs and risks were rising each year because not all areas of the Council were following the retention policies and disposing of unnecessary records. In addition, the Council held a wide range of information electronically in multiple databases across its different departments.
“Lack of processes created inefficiencies, with files going missing either because they had been placed on the wrong shelf, or someone had taken them and there was no booking out system,” says O’Brien. “There were also mountains of paper stored all over people’s desks, and these records were stored both as paper and electronically, so which one was the official Council record?” At the same time, the Council was planning to move into a new administrative and community leisure center in July 2014.
The move became the catalyst to identify what records it held and draw up a plan for managing its future storage requirements in a way that would reduce costs and enhance staff productivity.