Marlborough District Council – Property File Digitisation
Marlborough District Council has a very large collection of property records dating back generations. These had been stored in facilities in Picton and Blenheim and gaining access to them was a time-consuming process.
Following a full RFP process, the Council chose to partner with Desktop Imaging to digitise the files. The aim of the project was to standardise the process for all file retrievals and to improve customer service with a robust Service Level Agreement covering quality management, delivery schedules and access policies.
A primary driver linked to the Council’s Strategic Plan was to make all files available to ratepayers online thus dramatically improving service levels. Desktop Imaging managed the relocation of the entire collection of more than 52,000 files, with about five million A3 and A4 pages, detailing building consents and resource consents, to our Wellington premises.
Desktop Imaging also managed public requests to access the files for the duration of the project, using a combination of daily and on-demand scanning. Priority requests we’re processed on a daily – or half-daily – basis within prescribed timeframes.
Following an initial pilot phase, the project moved into full production and 2013finished within 24 months – six months earlier than the contracted completion date.
The digitised files we’re trickle-fed overnight to the Council via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) throughout the project. The Council “pulled” the files from our FTP site and integrated them into their EDRMS “HP TRIM” in a controlled but automated process that provided the property file live to customers immediately thereafter. The clear benefit was an ever-growing capability to for ratepayers to see their Property Files electronically reducing the demand on requests.
Today anyone can access property files for the District 24 hours a day, seven days a week, completely free of charge, and the take up from the Marlborough District has been huge with views now averaging 18,500 a month.
A signature feature of the project was that Desktop Imaging designed and built an in-house portal for quality assurance and project management, using Microsoft SharePoint to ensure continued live information of all records in the process for the council during the project.
The project was well-planned and well-executed. One key lesson was the ‘go-live’ date of the digitised files. Whilst the quality methods ensured only accurate files were deposited online to the ratepayer portal – the new system was so popular there was a surge in requests for Property File information. This meant the anticipated volume of ‘urgent requests’ increased and put pressure on anticipated volumes early on (and because of our elevated response contributed to the early finish of the project). However, we are a large organisation and were able to scale up using staff from other areas.
Desktop Imaging continually reviewed its processes throughout the project, including having our internal PRINCE2 practitioner review the methodology and apply elements of it to other projects and different record sets such as HR Records and Invoices.