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Government Records Repository

They are the state's information keeper, preserving its history by overseeing the storage and management of government records. So what they do and how they do it is extremely important.

Records must be stored, accessed, tracked, audited, managed, archived and eventually destroyed according to government retention and disposition mandates. And then there is the growing list of legislative initiatives, resulting in their being bombarded by requests for information.

They also face other mounting pressures: not enough staff and the same fiscal challenge – do as much as possible while spending as little as possible. That's a tall order for any government agency.

Here's a case study on an organization that didn't let old, inefficient record-keeping systems govern how they do business. With the right records storage and management technology, they were able to do more, with less; meet mandates for improving business processes and achieve operational efficiencies simply by using O'Neil Software.

They are the state's information keeper, preserving its history by overseeing the storage and management of government records. So what they do and how they do it is extremely important.

Records must be stored, accessed, tracked, audited, managed, archived and eventually destroyed according to government retention and disposition mandates. And then there is the growing list of legislative initiatives, resulting in their being bombarded by requests for information.

They also face other mounting pressures: not enough staff and the same fiscal challenge – do as much as possible while spending as little as possible. That's a tall order for any government agency.

Here's a case study on an organization that didn't let old, inefficient record-keeping systems govern how they do business. With the right records storage and management technology, they were able to do more, with less; meet mandates for improving business processes and achieve operational efficiencies simply by using O'Neil Software.

The Technology User: The Government Records Repository (GRR)

The Government Records Repository (GRR) is the business unit of the State Records Authority of New South Wales (NSW), the largest government repository in Australia, in charge of recordkeeping and archival management.

GRR provides storage and retrieval services to the government sector in NSW including government departments, statutory authorities, universities, public hospitals and local councils. It also stores for a number of NGOs (non-government organization/non-profits) and community organizations. There is no statutory obligation for these agencies to use the service of GRR, so this repository must compete with other record centers for this business.

GRR stores nearly 2.5 million boxes and since they specialize in the retrieval of individual files, they have around 1,200 file movements per day, over and above incoming boxes and general box movements throughout the repository.

GRR has been in operation since 1955 and has around 400 clients. In addition to standard paper storage and retrieval services, GRR offers its clients specialized vault storage for film and magnetic media and a number of very popular, value-added services such as data entry, disposal sentencing and archival appraisal.

Challenge 1: Manage Records Easily, Accurately & Efficiently, From Paper Files to Magnetic Media.

In 2001, GRR had 1.5 million boxes, file retrieval was nearly as high as 2010 volumes and all this was managed manually! There were absolutely no electronic systems implemented.

"Everything – billing, location and space management, file retrieval – was handled via manual systems," notes Sally IRVINE-SMITH, Manager, Systems Control for GRR. Sally manages the IT, business systems and value-added services of the center, spread over 5 warehouses on a site in the west of Sydney, with a staff of over 70. "This was extremely unwieldy: the billing system could not easily be audited against the holdings data to check accuracy of invoices; retrieval data was difficult to maintain and almost impossible to search historically; and the manual location systems made space management extremely inefficient."

Sally continues: "In 2001, when we chose O'Neil, it was the only dedicated records center management software in Australia at the time. We also realized that the few other record center management software products available were inferior to O'Neil's RS-SQL®. We were looking for an off-the-shelf package that would cover 90% of our processes and operations. RS-SQL covered 100%, without any need for expensive software customization. The fact that we could buy the product this way and successfully implement it straight out of the box was a very important factor for us. So they became our vendor of choice and implementation commenced in 2002."

This resulted in the physical barcoding of nearly 800,000 locations and 1.5 million boxes from the get-go. All holdings were manually audited to check correct ownership of every box. GRR was fully operational using O'Neil's RS-SQL in its storage management and retrieval operations by the end of 2004.

Government Records Repository Warehouse 2

Challenge 2: Streamline Operations, Enable Greater Productivity & Transparency, Improve Customer Service.

RS-SQL has positively impacted all aspects of GRR's business, ensuring that their organization is running at peak efficiency, while maintaining the ability to examine details whenever necessary.

"When it was first implemented, it was the first software application that many of our staff had ever used – some had never even used a computer for word processing or email! Now, no one at GRR could imagine being without it – staff often wonder how we ever operated manually," Sally notes.

Automating business operations cuts down on administrative and manual entry time and reduces human error/mistakes, allowing staff to focus instead on quality assurance and information integrity.

She continues: "Additionally, using RS-SQL has also increased our confidence that we have access to complete and accurate information. As a Government agency, we are often required to provide detailed statistics about our holdings and our revenue. In the past this was difficult to do and the results were often approximations. GRR had always been a comparatively big records center – and we were efficient - but our manual systems made us look a bit quaint and old-fashioned. Now having installed RS-SQL, we are seen to be progressive, efficient and world-class."

And because efficiency in customer service is about enabling clients to manage their business data and records themselves, GRR has subsequently implemented O'Neil's RSWeb®.NET (which they call GRRWeb) and it is extremely popular with their clients. The organization has also been using O'Neil's imaging feature for their electronic retrieval ('scan-on-demand' service).

"We've just started using O'Neil's mobile communications (wireless scanners and RSMobile®) and our people are enjoying and appreciating the benefits of both these technologies as well." Sally is quick to point out. "As a result, our Customer Service is much improved – we use less staff for traditional retrieval and storage tasks and are able to devote these people to providing other value-added services."

"To summarize, using RS-SQL has resulted in our being able to capture and retain a lot more data about records retrieval; our space management situation has become more efficient; and our billing is now based precisely on actual holdings. We can provide our clients with much more data at the touch of a button,"notes Sally.

The Solution: Don't Antiquate...Automate.

When asked what surprised Sally most about using O'Neil Software, Sally responded: "Whether automation succeeds or fails quite often depends on the support and commitment it receives from management and staff. I never doubted that GRR would overcome all initial teething problems and that staff would eventually come to embrace it enthusiastically. However I am most surprised at how, after being so late in adopting an electronic system in the first place and being very much conservative late adopters, we now seem to be at the forefront of early adopters."

"We expect that O'Neil will continue to provide the same robust, functional and comprehensive records management products. And if GRR implements their technology well, we will be able to manage our records more efficiently and transparently, to ensure their continued value as evidence. Maintaining evidence through authentic and reliable record-keeping is a cornerstone of good business practice and helps ensure a valuable record for society."

Visit GRR online at: http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/grr/