At least once a month, maybe more, I do a trip to Motherwell, into the Arneil Johnston office. The space is shared with Clyde Valley HA, in some pretty modern offices. I like them a lot and occasionally chat or see CVHA staff, while I am in there. It is one of the most tidy office spaces, I have ever seen.
There's good reason for that, and its lack of paper documents, flying around the place. A decent implementation of a mainstream EDRMS designed for UKhousing and a project to back-scan and destroy tenancy files and other baggage, has helped them arrive at this nirvana, without paper. It took about a million documents to be scanned to get them there, and it saved a shed load of space. I once heard that this was turned into a mini-gym, although I have yet to give the cycle trainers a go.
With the varied organisations I work with, I sometimes get in discussions around EDRM and document management. No doubt about it and I have blogged about the essentiality of good EDRM these days, but there are still many sites holding on to their paper files. Many people, managers and users included, believe that even after being scanned, original paper needs to be retained.
Now, as we know from cave drawings, to hieroglyphics, to paper, to 8", 5.25", 3.5" floppies, CD's, DVD's, Iomega ZipDisks (anyone remember those?) and now cloud storage, media is always moving on. Paper seems to have a particular lofty official aura, a bit like the "get up and glow" Ready-Brek kids - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c3n-mh5bck.
Paper seems sacrosanct, like head stones in fact. Jeez, make sure on my death I get a decent headstone, hopefully saying this Mancunian made the world slightly better than he found it, or something profound like that. Just don't put my Twitter account 'in-memoriam'.
Is this true or not? Well, while its obviously an organisation choice, but what does 'The (Westminster) Man' say? What do the BSI (British Standards Institution) they say about destroying original documentation, once scanned?
Spookily enough, with BIP0008 / BIP0009 (previously PD0009), computer says YES! That is as long as you follow the correct process, in committing your records to digital image. The key hurdles are Authenticity, Storage & Access Procedures and Demonstrability of adherence. Crack these and you two can have an office as aesthetically pleasing as Clyde Valley. (Disclaimer - other well organised SocialHousing RSLs are available). More info at http://www.thecabinetoffice.co.uk/page28.html
One key aspect of if a document can be destroyed, is down to who actually owns it. Deeds for example might not actually be owned by the RSL/RP.
As to if some of these scanned documents are admissible in court, rules hinge on (among others), There should be a proper system for:
(i) identifying each file or document destroyed;
(ii) recording that the complete file or document, as the case may be, has been photographed/recorded;
(iii) recording identification by the camera operator/user of the negatives/electronic files as copies of the documents photographed; and
(iv) preserving and indexing the negatives/digital files.
Of course, digital files then need to be protected, to the same reliable extent as physical files. Digital copies can be recorded relatively easily in various physical and cloud locations, which is something that is not easily done with paper files. Just be sure that before scanning, your supplier can conform to these standards. Get your contract/SLA in place and do the necessary quality control.
As ever, if I can help with EDRMS, Housing, Finance, Mobile, Channel Shift, Scheduling or Contractor systems, please be in touch!
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Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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