Case Study – Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

Case study 'From paper to digital in seven days'


In seven days the agency converted the existing EDRMS for managing physical records into a format for managing digital records to suit 20 staff with digital experience, resulting in a more comprehensive approach to promoting the value of information assets through the EDRMS.

Agency overview

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's (PM&C) principal function is to support the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, and our Portfolio Ministers by focusing on the Government's strategic priorities, supporting the efficient functioning of government, and through promoting good governance and decision making.


Prior to the Machinery of Government (MoG) changes in September 2013, PM&C was a paper-based agency which used HP TRIM to manage all physical records. To meet the Digital Transition Policy's requirements, an Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS) project had been initiated by PM&C to implement an EDRMS for the 700 staff located in One National Circuit.

The MoG changes transformed the records landscape of PM&C into a more complex environment. PM&C needed to accommodate about 1800 incoming staff that were transferring from nine different Commonwealth agencies and working across the functions of Indigenous Affairs (IA), Office for Women, and Deregulation.

The majority of IA staff that had transitioned from other agencies to PM&C were already familiar with an EDRMS to meet their recordkeeping obligations. Requiring these staff to revert to using paper files for any period of time was seen as an undesirable change and providing access to an EDRMS in a timely manner became a key priority for PM&C. About 800 IA staff would be impacted as they transferred onto the PM&C PROTECTED network; the remaining IA staff were hosted on the Department of Social Services network and had EDRMS access.

Project objectives

The overarching objective of the project was to implement an EDRMS that:

  • provided digital continuity to the 800 IA staff who would be working in the National Office;
  • was easy for staff to use and search; and
  • provided at little cost and within a strict timeframe by leveraging PM&C's existing HP TRIM system.

Project execution

The imperative to develop an interim EDRMS solution within PM&C became apparent after the MoG changes occurred. Through stakeholder engagement the need for digital record continuity became apparent; the desire to avoid incoming staff reverting to paper filing became a priority for the Records and Information Management Team (RIM) within PM&C.

RIM staff identified there were enough licences for HP TRIM available and the necessary internal capacity to deliver the outcome in such a short period of time. Despite the limited resources, the resulting EDRMS created a significant improvement in digital information management. These early steps, while small, set the scene for the broader EDRMS project and digital transition across PM&C.

The need for digital continuity

The first stage of the project concentrated on transitioning the first IA branch into PM&C. Members from RIM organised meetings with Attorney-General's Department (AGD) records staff and key stakeholders to discuss the Justice and Community Safety Branch's record keeping requirements. AGD records staff revealed that the staff had been using HP TRIM as an EDRMS and that the branch was accustomed to using it. Following these discussions, RIM staff decided that implementing HP TRIM as an EDRMS solution would be the best way of providing the branch with continued access to their digital records and data. Given their familiarity with filing electronically, it was considered undesirable for the branch to return to a paper-based records management system.

The RIM staff had seven days to reconfigure HP TRIM and roll out the system prior to the branch's transfer to PM&C. The tight timeframe became apparent in the dynamic environment of multiple agency negotiations and the notification that AGD staff would transfer within seven days. RIM staff liaised with the AGD records team to learn how to best configure HP TRIM to allow it to be used as a fully functional EDRMS. PM&C collected all the critical records identified by the branch from AGD and imported them into the PM&C system. Testing of the system occurred prior to the branch's arrival and RIM staff provided onsite trouble shooting support for staff on their first day.

Internally, RIM staff also restructured their processes and procedures following the roll-out to ensure a seamless move to business as usual support for the new EDRMS system.

The success of the roll-out to this small branch of about 20 staff demonstrated the ability of the RIM staff to implement an EDRMS to the broader IA group of around 800 National Office staff as they transitioned into PM&C.

Establishing critical mass

Key aspects of the roll-out focused on the provision of training to staff that were unfamiliar with PM&C's EDRMS. RIM developed detailed reference material and delivered training to all IA staff.

The existence of RIM's EDRMS helpdesk was communicated to users, who were strongly encouraged to utilise its services, and this, combined with the EDRMS training, has helped PM&C achieve critical mass in the uptake of its EDRMS which has become an important and integral part of IA staff members' work processes. New employees within IA are aware that the EDRMS is the primary record keeping tool available to them and are able to request training in the use of the program.

Following the introduction of an EDRMS, staff members from RIM have created an EDRMS presentation to complement the induction of new starters. This provides the team with an opportunity to inform new staff of how to file electronically, and provides a preview of how EDRMS will be implemented Department-wide.

Project outcomes

The Project has helped PM&C improve its digital information management practices. Since the implementation of the interim EDRMS solution in November 2013, electronic files account for 30 per cent of the total files created within the National Office. This allows staff members to locate and retrieve information in a fraction of the time required for paper documents and provides staff with the ability to save documents and share them easily with colleagues.

Transferring staff members immediately had access to an EDRMS once they transitioned into PM&C. The project achieved this outcome utilising minimal resources, implementing the solution with little notice, and successfully delivering a solution for staff that was easily accessible, user-friendly, and consistent with PM&C's existing technological architecture.

Project impact

PM&C's progress towards digital transition has progressed significantly as a result of MoG changes. This includes a more comprehensive approach to raising the profile of, and promoting the value of, information assets through the deployment of the EDRMS to the remainder of PM&C, and the inclusion of additional features such as collaborative spaces that provide staff with the ability to share information and collaborate on areas of interest across both the unclassified and protected networks. As part of the EDRMS project, there has been agreement that PM&C's EDRMS will have the ability to integrate with other existing business systems. PM&C has started conducting business analysis of key business systems, such as human resource and finance systems, to ensure that information held within these systems is managed appropriately.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019