Case Study – National Blood Authority

A case study for the transformation to a digital first culture via digitisation and implementation of an EDRMS

Summary

The agency transformed from being paper based to a digital first culture by implementing an EDRMS, scanning legacy records, appropriately destroying source records, and incorporating strategies to ensure staff used the EDRMS. This resulted in greater access to reliable records and a reduction in storage space.

Agency overview

The National Blood Authority (NBA), based in Canberra, is a statutory agency within the Health portfolio that manages and coordinates arrangements for the supply of blood and blood products across Australia. The NBA was established by the National Blood Authority Act 2003 and in 2013-14, 78 staff managed supply contracts valued at $1.1 billion per annum.

Prior to the commencement of the project, the NBA's record-keeping was largely paper-based with over 530 shelf metres (270m off-site and 260m on-site) of space dedicated to the agency's files that had been created in its ten years of operation.

Introduction

Over the last 20 months, the NBA completed a project that transformed the agency's operations from a highly-traditional paper-heavy approach to a digital-first culture. An active program of digitisation of legacy paper records was accompanied by decommissioning of over 80% of shared drives/email storage and strong senior executive support resulted in an immediate migration to digital information management.

Project objectives

The impending relocation to a new office in early 2013 was the catalyst to commence a long-contemplated digitisation of the NBA's records.

Anticipated benefits at the time of commencement were:

  • Improving real-time access to information from both inside and outside the office;
  • Enabling the agency's operations to continue uninterrupted  if the office is unavailable;
  • Staff efficiencies through reduced time to locate information, elimination of the tedious former process of printing to file; and
  • Cost efficiencies through reductions in office space and off-site storage requirements.

Project execution

Following approval of the project by the NBA's Agency Head, a multi-disciplinary project team was established, composed of all staff involved in the project from both the 'business' perspective, ICT and information management teams.

To enable the project to deliver its objectives in full, it was fully integrated into two other projects being undertaken by the agency concurrently (building relocation and desktop virtualisation or VDI). Strong project planning ensured that the interdependencies between these three projects were met, and that delays in any one project or element did not have a 'knock-on' effect on other deliverables.

Strong communication focussing on the objectives of the project, honest assessments of progress and setbacks and the impacts on all staff quickly became a hallmark of the project. The NBA's Senior Executive Group were briefed on the project weekly, whilst fortnightly updates were provided to all staff.

An early decision was to insource the majority of work on the project, enabling it to be delivered with minimal resourcing and to enable the project team to have both strong control and an ability to rapidly evolve the methodology as the project progressed.

Digitisation of Records

Staff were allocated time to 'clean-up' their existing paper information. This involved filing current and legacy paper information and destroying low value facilitative information, such as printed reference material, using a Normal administrative practice. This increased staff engagement with the project and assisted in identifying what information needed to be digitised.

With assistance from each business area, files were temporarily closed and moved to a secure location within the agency for scanning. This ensured new information was not added to the files while the work was being completed. Quality assurance testing was done to ensure the original paper information would be accurately replicated in the digital version. The paper files were then individually scanned in-house using the standard operating procedure developed during the testing period.

After scanning and quality assurance steps were completed, the digital version was saved in the agency’s newly commissioned Electronic Document Records Management System (EDRMS). A certificate documenting how the file was scanned, and the date and time of the scanning was included for accountability purposes.

Scanned files were retained for three months following scanning and quality assurance tasks, and were then destroyed using General Records Authority 31. This involved shredding each file in-house using a SCEC endorsed shredder, with staff given clear visibility of the process.

Digitisation of Business Processes

Over half of NBA business processes were digitised in parallel to the digitisation of paper-based records, significantly reducing the need to print items for approval processes.

Migration of network drives and email

Business areas and individual staff members were tasked with migrating records from personal drives, network drives and email accounts into the EDRMS. Specific user education focussing on Normal Administrative Practice and how to decipher which records were required to be retained helped to minimise the migration of items which were not records and no longer needed to be stored.

Monthly organisation wide reporting on team progress with migration occurred and network drives were decommissioned and restricted on a regular basis. The implementation of email quotas, personal drive quotas and network drive decommissioning helped to encourage staff to not fall back into old practices and to continue to file items into EDRMS.

Project outcomes and impact

The NBA derived many benefits from the project:

  • 98.5% of agency records are now created and managed digitally
  • Staff have access to complete, accurate and authentic information and the ability to now work across teams is greatly enhanced
  • Staff can access 99% of agency records at any-time, from any device and from any location with the EDRMS solution available to all staff from both inside and outside the office. This was made available through the concurrently conducted desktop virtualisation project. The NBA can now operate with minimal disruption even if the agency's only office is unavailable.
  • Storage space has been reduced by 66% with 175 shelf metres (167m off-site and 8m on-site) of records now retained in physical format. The significant reduction in on-site storage has resulted in a decrease of office space requirements of 2.4 square metres per staff member which is saving the agency over $50,000 in rent per annum.
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017