Fife Council modernizes its content management

Fife Council's departments can now view and manage all content from paper and digital sources, saving time and money.

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Fife Council

Fife Council is the local authority for the Fife area of Scotland, also known as The Kingdom of Fife, and is the third largest Scottish council.

Glenrothes, Fife


Reducing the cost to achieve compliance

Fife Council’s infrastructure was already in place. Having successfully started to implement an EDRMS solution using SharePoint 2013 On-Premises and RecordPoint On-Premises, the council turned again to RecordPoint when managing 17,000 paper archive boxes across multiple record stores became a problem.

The council had already made the decision to use RecordPoint for the management of their digital records, therefore, when they were looking for a solution to manage paper records it was a straightforward decision. The council knew that RecordPoint would effectively manage paper records as well, and that it was consistent with the corporate vision to manage all records, physical and digital, on the one platform.

Fife Council, like many organizations and agencies, had identified several buildings that were no longer appropriate for storing paper records. A project was initiated to bring all these records under one roof. This was a multi-service collaboration project between Building Services, Business Support, and Business Technology Solutions (IT Services). A primary goal of the project is to “improve the governance of the documents that we hold, simplify the administration of record management processes, and support adherence to records management policies.” From a governance perspective, compliance was always a key driver for the project, “It’s about being able to easily find and retrieve records when you need them, to make sure that you know where everything is, and to ensure that we are using best practice wherever possible.”

A key to the council’s success was a series of workshops held to collect the business requirements from the different stakeholders involved. Project Team members described those workshops, saying “there were differences between what the Stores Team were looking for, what the Records Managers were looking for, and what the Enterprise Architects were looking for.” Defining and agreeing on common goals was critical, “It was working through that process together so that everybody was aware of what the other groups were looking for, and recognizing that we had to move forward together.” The workshops helped everyone understand the varied range of requirements involved, and to agree on shared goals and priorities for the project.

... Simplify the administration of record management processes, and support adherence to records management policies. —Fife Council

Decisions had to be made early on as to how best to approach the management of the content. Managing such a large volume of archive boxes was a challenge, let alone individually identifying and labelling the content in those boxes. A practical approach was key. A Project Team member commented “You’ve also got to step back and ask, well, where’s the business value in doing that? What are we trying to achieve? The return on investment for those activities are probably not going to be there unless the records are being actively used.” In phase one of the project the team agreed to focus on the archive boxes. Each archive box would be listed in RecordPoint, and a barcode label printed and attached before the box was placed on the racking. Shelf locations were also given unique identifiers so that these could be linked to each individual archive box in RecordPoint.

For phase two it was decided that retrospective labeling of closed files at an individual record level was not required, as this would mean a significant investment of time and resources for records that were rarely accessed. Instead, in this phase new records will be individually listed on creation, and archived files that are reactivated would be listed in RecordPoint at that point. This approach ensures that commonly accessed or used files are included in the EDRMS system, but the council will not waste money individually tracking legacy files that are unlikely to be accessed until the end of the record life cycle. This approach will help to keep the Project Team on track for their goals, but with transformation infused into the normal business operational process.

Of the 17,000 archive boxes, the council now has over 6,000 on purpose-built racking in their new home, all managed in RecordPoint. The Project Team are agreed that “having it all set up and ready to go is the biggest step forward.” Work continues to add all of the remaining archive boxes, as well as the addition of newly created archive boxes following the closure of files at the end of the financial year.

The fact that you can manage your paper and your digital records together is fabulous. —Fife Council

Deriving value

Twelve months since the project scope was first outlined, the council has experienced improved accessibility, protection, security, governance, and management of its paper records. Of the original goals for the project, the council’s Information Architect highlights that compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements relating to the council’s information and records has been a key achievement. “The fact that you can manage your paper and your digital records together is fabulous. This new process supports our records management requirements, particularly compliance with PRSA [Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011] and ISO 15489.”

Integrated view

Since beginning the journey with RecordPoint, the council now has a system with a consistent naming convention, version control, and a range of other functionality that the combination of SharePoint and RecordPoint provides for their managed archive boxes. Not only does the council benefit from a global overview, they will benefit from a consistent standard and approach to managing the hybrid records (physical and electronic) held in the EDRMS.

Staff benefits

The new, optimized archive facility offers a better environment than the previous dispersed locations. The staff are much happier working in their new environment over the old areas which might have been remote or didn’t offer the same amenities.

Looking to the future

The future looks bright for Fife Council. The council continues its progress on finalizing all 17,000 archive boxes to the new home in the central archive. The cloud is also in the council’s sights. Planning a move to Office 365 is a key goal as Fife Council looks to realize the costs savings and efficiencies of a cloud based strategy.

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