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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 04/04/2006
Electronic Documents and Records Management Systems (EDRMS)



[Wards Affected: All]

Summary and Purpose

The purpose of this report is to:
Summarise the current situation with respect to the Council’s document and records filing systems;
Outline options for addressing the issues identified;
Recommend officers to consult with neighbouring Authorities with respect to their document and records management strategies; and
Procure an Electronic Data and Records Management System (EDRMS), initially to address the urgent issues with respect to the management of e-mails and Microsoft Office files.

Environmental Implications

The corporate implementation of an EDRMS would reduce the Council’s consumption of paper.

Social / Community Issues

There are no direct social / community implications of implementing an EDRMS.

E-Government Implications

The implementation of an EDRMS would enable the delivery of a number of the ODPM’s priority outcomes for e-government including the adoption of ISO 15489 methodology for electronic document records management.

Resource and Legal Implications

The implementation of an EDRMS would ensure compliance with Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation. The resource implications are given in detail later in the report.

1. A provision of 70,000 has been included in the 2005/06 IEG Capital Programme to begin to address the need to improve the Council’s access to its information, partly in response to the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and the Government’s e-government agenda, but mostly because of growing concerns over the management, or lack of it, of e-mails and Microsoft Office documents (letters, reports, spreadsheets, etc.) within the Council.

2. Because of the scale of the task and the lack of in-house expertise and experience in this specialist area, your officers went out to tender and selected Cimtech Ltd to review Waverley’s current working practices with respect to the management of information held on paper and a wide range of electronic media, and to recommend an action plan. (Cimtech Ltd is part of Hertfordshire University and as such is independent of any EDRMS software suppliers.)

3. This report summarises Cimtech’s findings. (A full copy of Cimtech’s report, “Information and Records Management Study for Waverley Borough Council”, has been placed in the Members’ Room.)


4. Waverley Borough Council is the custodian of a very considerable amount of information on all of its services, customers and citizens and about its financial, property and human resources. As such, the Council’s information is an extremely valuable resource in its own right that needs to be maintained and managed as efficiently and as effectively as any other of its assets.

5. When Waverley Borough Council was first set up virtually all of its information was held on paper. Over the years there have been numerous technological developments in data storage media so that currently, within the Council, information on customers, property, services, resources, etc. might be held on any one or more of the following:

IT application databases;
Document images (DIP);
Microsoft Office documents (Word, Excel etc.); and

6. Any corporate filing system that may have existed in the days of paper-only records and documents has long since fallen into disuse. There is no corporate method of filing information now. Even worse, there are significant areas of data storage where records management is effectively non-existent, most notably e-mail and Microsoft Office documents held in personal directories.

7. Managers have been aware of local issues surrounding the lack of document management for some time, particularly with respect to e-mail, and Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) have been demonstrated to various officers in recent years. However, such application packages would only address part of the problem, the electronic data, and not include the significant amount of information the Council still holds on paper.

8. There are numerous drivers for adopting a standard corporate classification scheme that would be applied to all information for all services in all departments stored on all types of media. These include:

9. In order to address the above issues, a number of specialist consultants were invited to tender to undertake a review of the Council’s current information management (both paper and electronic) and produce a scoping report identifying the main issues to be addressed and recommending an action plan. After evaluating five tenders, Cimtech Ltd were selected. Dave Pitt, from Cimtech Ltd, undertook the review between October and December 2005.

Cimtech’s Findings

10. In brief, Cimtech identified the following issues:

There is no Council-wide classification scheme;
There is no Council-wide file plan;
There is no Council-wide retention schedule;
Policies and procedures are informal and inexact;
Processes such as the procedures with respect to leavers – to secure information when someone leaves – are outdated or missing;
The ‘print-to-file’ policy is out-moded and increasingly ignored (i.e. not all significant documents are printed out from personal files and filed for shared access);
Tools to help staff manage email are lacking; and
Tools to manage and audit documents and records are lacking.

11. In consequence of the above, the report concludes that there is an urgent need for change for the following reasons:
The inefficiencies of the current systems are costing the Council money;
The Council is failing to meet many Government standards; and
Options for Improvement

12. Cimtech’s report considers three high level options that the Council might take:

Option 3 – Procurement of an EDRMS

13. Under Option 3 –

The Council would implement:

14. The advantages of Option 3 are as follows:
It would provide major efficiency benefits, including:
- Savings in consumables such as paper, copiers, etc.; and
It would comply with all relevant national standards.

15. In addition, the Council is facing a “demographic time-bomb” as a significant proportion of its middle and senior management reach retirement age over the next five years. These long-serving members of staff hold the location of much of the Council’s information “in their heads” and without recourse to this knowledge it will become increasingly difficult to locate this information.

16. The report identifies the following disadvantages of adopting Option 3:
17. The next stage in the implementation of an EDRMS will be to undertake a requirements study in order to draw up a specification that captures the advantages and addresses the disadvantages, against which to invite and assess tenders.

Risk Assessment

18. Cimtech’s report also provides an analysis of the risks associated with the project, including:

Scope creep – the temptation to include more and more in the project;
Excessive strain on the Council’s IT network;
Importance of change management is under-estimated; Poor communication and training resulting in under-use of the system.

19. The report also identifies the risks associated with doing nothing, in particular the cost of increasing administrative inefficiency, e.g.:
Important issues such as Business Continuity could not be addressed; Paper documents would continue to consume more and more office space.

20. The longer the delay in embarking upon the implementation of an EDRMS, the greater the risks and the more expensive retrieving the situation becomes.

Resource Implications

21. Of the three options set out above, Cimtech recommends the third, the purchase of an Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS).

22. Although this option would deliver a number of operational benefits and have the potential of realising significant cashable efficiencies, there are risks involved – in particular the need for the up-front investment of resource, both financial and staff time.

23. The IEG Capital programme currently includes a draft provision of 255,000 over four years (2005/06 to 2008/09). Cimtech’s report estimates the project costs of implementing an EDRMS to be at least 240,000 over the same period of time but calculates that any significant cashable savings (up 75,000 p.a.) would not be realised until 2008/09 at the earliest.

24. Cimtech’s report contains an “Outline Business Case” which includes detailed workings of the estimated project costs of implementing EDRMS. These can be summarised as follows (figures shown in thousands):

Project costs10125115201515301
Capital Programme Provision 70 35 7575--255

25. In order to bring the levels of expenditure required to implement an EDRMS into line with the proposed capital programme your officers would propose phasing its implementation, the initial emphasis being to concentrate on introducing corporate policies, procedures and standards and to address the immediate issues of e-mail and Microsoft office document management. Although this strategy would bring immediate efficiency gains (i.e. non-cashable savings) there is a risk that it would result on delays in realising cashable savings (as most of these relate to the storage and retrieval of paper records).

26. The staffing resource implications of implementing a corporate EDRMS should not be under-estimated. The cost of engaging specialist consultants has been built into the estimated project costs, but over and above this the implementation will require considerable input from IT Section and a group of officers to oversee the project and manage the resultant changes in procedures within each service area.

27. And, as stated above, the introduction of an EDRMS will affect the work practices of every member and officer who handles a paper record or an electronic document. Having said that, its implementation will also prove beneficial in the medium to long term for all involved.

28. Cimtech’s “Outline Business Case” also includes detailed workings of the potential cashable and non-cashable savings which would deliver an overall return of 159,000 over five years.

Partnership working / Local Government Review

29. As stated above, the introduction of a corporate information strategy will only support the Council’s working in partnership with other service providers if a national standard classification scheme for the public sector is adopted (i.e. the Integrated Public Sector Vocabulary [IPSV] encoding scheme which complies with ISO 2788).

30. Similarly, if the Government decides to undertake a review of Local Government structures, then the continuation of service during and after any merging of authorities would be greatly enhanced if the participating authorities used the same classification scheme for the management of their information.

31. To this end your officers have already begun consulting with neighbouring Councils with respect to their long-term electronic and data records management strategies.


32. Information is one of the Council’s most valuable assets. There is not a single service it provides that could be provided without it and its loss (through destruction or simply being mislaid or misfiled) can seriously affect service delivery.

33. The Council needs to make a decision as to how it wishes to manage this valuable asset and needs to be mindful that the longer it puts off the implementation of an information management strategy, the greater the risks become.

34. Your officers endorse the recommendation of the Cimtech review to procure an Electronic Data and Records Management System for the following reasons:

It has the potential to deliver cashable efficiency savings;


It is recommended that:



Name: Lawrence Heath Telephone: 01483 523084
E-mail: lheath@waverley.gov.uk

Name: Phil Tucker Telephone: 01483 523157
E-mail: ptucker@waverley.gov.uk