Sutton council makes £280,000 savings in one department with new EDM

The London Borough of Sutton is saving £280,000 over five years in one department from using a new electronic document management (EDM) system.

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The London Borough of Sutton is saving £280,000 over five years in one department from using a new electronic document management (EDM) system.

The council's revenues and benefits department processes over 120,000 documents a year covering housing benefit and council tax.

A legacy document management system was slowing things down with its lack of functionality, said the council, which meant citizens weren't being paid on time and the council was waiting longer than it should for payments.

The legacy document management system was holding up the allocation of citizen claims, with it often taking up to half a day for tasks to be assigned to the right staff due to a complicated sign-off process.

Julie Turner, interim executive head of business services at Sutton council, said: "It became apparent that the system we had in place wasn’t keeping up with the increase in demand. We knew we needed to get a more holistic view of the revenue and benefits business, to enable us to support the changing needs of our citizens."

The council then went to Civica for a replacement EDM and workflow system which was able to "increase functionality and support our organisation’s cost savings drive", said Turner.

Greater flexibility in configuring security settings within the new system has meant staff in other teams can be allowed controlled access to the system, which will allow for service improvements and more joined up ways of working, Turner said.

Through the new system, the way that citizens manage their claims has been "transformed", the council said. They can now scan documents at their local library or from home and email their correspondence direct to the department, rather than having to go to the council or send the relevant documents in the post.

Meanwhile, a more streamlined administrative process means that citizens now receive a faster response to claims and can track the status through a web portal. This development brings the council closer to enabling citizens to access all records through the web portal.

As soon as a document comes in to the scanning team it is sorted by a scanning officer, batched together with others, and then assigned to the right person to action a particular job via email.

This streamlined process has helped improve processing times, reduced errors due to lost documents or inaccurate information and has improved consistency across all areas, said Turner.

Managers can also access staff performance reports to monitor and support workplace productivity further through the automated system.

Through reduced maintenance costs and improved administration and back office processes, the council made financial savings of around £160,000 in the first year with the new EDM. Over a five year period, the council estimates that the total return on investment will be £280,000.

Sutton and Kingston councils merged their IT departments last year.

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