Document Management Review
In 2015 Castlerigg Consulting were commissioned by Lambeth Council to evaluate their processes, practices and technologies around information and document management.
The brief was to rapidly assess Lambeth’s current approach to document management over an eight-week period and present an honest, evidenced and objective assessment of their current model in order to identify both opportunities for immediate improvement and to practically scope the work required to put in place a new model for document management in support of wider council transformation.
Document Management (DM) is the co-ordination and control of electronic and paper documents. It enables the management of the full ‘lifecycle’ of a document from creation through to archiving and/or disposal. As one element of document management, an Electronic Document Management System (eDMS) is one way of describing a comprehensive technology platform for managing the creation, capture, indexing, storage, retrieval, and arrangement of records and information assets of the organisation.
Information is one of the most valuable assets a council has and is often one of the most underrated. Councils are often configured in evolved vertical functions – their document management processes can reflect this fragmentation with information locked down in systems and services which are unable to integrate or interact. Documentation processes regularly focus on the immediate operational information needs of the service and not the wider strategic need for information. The financial impact of this can often be underestimated. We calculated than in Lambeth, for every paper document, there was a management cost of around £4.60 – to create it, scan it, store the paper on site, archive it and destroy it. In this context, improving document management really matters.
We engaged with officers at all levels of the council, taking part in structured interviews to to inform our evaluation of document management practice in Lambeth and understand the council’s ‘as is’ model. Information was captured to inform this evaluation around areas such as system use, functionality, document storage, costs and archiving arrangements. This would enable us to see the big picture of document management in the council and analyse the results. It was essential for us to understand Lambeth’s unique organisational context and drivers for change and then tailor our approach and solutions accordingly. A big part of this was to assess the council’s readiness to change its document management approach which was also assessed along with its approach to change management. We understand the cultural sensitivity of change management and highlighted the importance of evolving a ‘one council’ culture approach, embedding positive staff behaviors and valuing the information contained in documents as a wider corporate asset.
In the final stage, Castlerigg developed a detailed report including recommendations for future models of document management and workstreams to address opportunities for improvement such as establishing Enterprise Architecture, refreshing the council’s information governance framework and creating a defined document management strategy. We identified a new document management model which had the potential to support the council’s wider ambitions to ensure information is a real asset and become one enabler of wider transformation around organisational design, service integration and agility.
The report provided a series of valuable insights and recommendations that are now being implemented as part of Lambeth’s wider transformation programme, which will introduce mobile working alongside an ambitious rationalisation of their estate.
"I have been enormously impressed with the professionalism and skillsets that Castlerigg have displayed throughout their engagement. They have actively listened and understood our unique organisational context and drivers and tailored their approach and solutions accordingly. I have not hesitated to recommend them to others based on my experience!"
Julian Osgathorpe, Director of Business Transformation, Lambeth Council
We provided a strategic evaluation of information and document management. As in all of our commissions, it was important for us to understand the council’s drivers for change and their organisational context to see the big picture and tailor our approach appropriately with this in mind. Throughout our commission we engaged with stakeholders and highlighted the importance of recognising the wider strategic need for information as an asset, rather than the immediate operational needs of a service. We highlighted the importance of a council-wide strategy to document management.
Many local authorities have evolved over a long period of time. As they evolve information can often be locked down in systems and services which are unable to integrate or interact with enough efficiency to benefit the organisation as a whole. In this commission the council’s approach to document management had evolved disparately in services and departments within the organisation. Our report included workstreams to address opportunities for improvement and design document management to support the council’s transformation as a whole.