Staffordshire County Council installs EzeScan

Staffordshire County Council installs Kodak scanners with EzeScan to support the opening of a brand new HQ and relocation of 1500 staff

  • Building consolidation project will improve efficiency, and save tax payers £250,000 per annum for 40 years
  • Purpose-built HQ replaces 17 buildings across Stafford
  • EDRMS improves the council’s ability to respond to the public faster

Staffordshire County Council has implemented a high performance document scanning solution to digitise the majority of its files as it moves into a brand new, 150,000 sq ft purpose-built HQ called Staffordshire Place.

Opened in August 2011, the new building enables the efficient delivery of council services as all departments are under one roof, with costs reduced, business processes streamlined, and flexible working facilitated for council employees.

Further to an investment totalling £80k including staff costs, two Kodak i620 colour mid volume production scanners, along with Outback Imaging’s EzeScan image capture software, have been purchased to ‘back scan’ paperwork from departments moving into the new facility as storage space is at a premium. Only one linear metre of storage per employee has been incorporated in the new scheme.

Seventeen buildings across the town have been closed – saving the council £250,000 per annum over 40 years – with 1500 staff from 135 teams relocated to the new offices. The £23 million build will see Tipping Street, in Stafford town centre, redeveloped for mixed-use purposes integrating the council HQ with 15,000 sq ft of new shopping and restaurant accommodation.

Richard Lewis, Staffordshire County Council’s scanner & disposal officer, says, “Reducing the area required to just store paperwork is a priority as it’s a non-productive use of the new office facility. We want to be paper-light so we’ve basically created an internal scanning bureau – the first time this has been done at the council.”

The corporate scanning team considered three routes to deal with files – using third party suppliers to outsource scanning totally, managing completely internally or a mixed approach. The latter was finally chosen given the range of documents to be scanned and the necessity to process them quickly while controlling quality.

Lewis explains, “Our in-house team will support 85-90% of departments, but some have existing suppliers and systems in place which made sense to maintain. For example, the planning team has oversized documents larger than A3 which are digitised externally. We’ve reviewed each department’s requirements and put in place a bespoke solution for them.”

In practice this has meant the scanning team of two has established a records capture centre and digitised files sent to them by colleagues. Where paperwork is needed day-to-day, the team has also actually gone to sites to scan locally or lent equipment to teams who – for security reasons – have wanted to scan their paperwork themselves.

To date, the legal, financial, social care and highways departments have made extensive use of the new solution, with each team preparing its own paperwork ready for scanning. This has speeded up the digitisation process.

The Kodak scanners have been in use for the past four months, and were selected because they offered the best volume and quality of scanning given the price.

With built-in Kodak Perfect Page imaging technology, SurePath paper handling to guarantee accurate feeding of various document types, and three independent multi-feed detectors ensuring no paper jams, the i620 scanners deliver outstanding performance fully optimised for mission critical scanning.

Featuring a 500 sheet document feeder able to deal with a mix of paper sizes and weights, the i620 scanners are rated to speeds of 53 pages per minute at 300 dpi;– the council standard for scanning which copes with both handwritten as well typed documents.

Lewis says, “The thing that has impressed me the most is the reliability. Some days, the Kodak scanners have been going flat out for 10 hours without any issues.”

Between 1.1 and 1.5 million images over the next 6 to 8 months will be created as departments move into Staffordshire Place. Text searchable PDFs will be produced accessible through shared network drives or images produced and imported directly into the council’s HP TRIM electronic document & records management system (EDRMS). Purchased in August 2010, HP TRIM is currently being rolled out throughout the whole council to improve access to and management of information.

Kevin Blackley, Outback Imaging’s International Business Development Manager, says, “EzeScan capture software was chosen not only for its cost effectiveness but because it offers a seamless integration with the EDRMS and offers static value support so that images can be imported far quicker. When records of the same type are scanned, the system has been configured to import documents on the basis of one piece of information – the council ID number – which saves time rekeying in similar information all the time.”

Once the move to Staffordshire Place is complete, the scanning team expects to offer a scan-on-demand service for departments to cater for all their ongoing digitisation needs.

Neil Murphy, Kodak’s UK sales manager, says, “It’s fair to say that installing a high performance Kodak scanning solution has proven cost effective for Staffordshire County Council given the volume of documents they have to process. Consistency and quality is guaranteed, along with security, with staff then able to use the information in its EDRMS to deliver a faster service to members of the public when they contact the council.”