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Exmoor National Park

End-to-end correspondence management
solution enhances service to the public

Industries:

  • Education
  • Government

Offering Groups:

  • Scanners

Solution Areas:

  • Imaging Solutions

Regions:

  • United Kingdom
  • Europe

Challenges:

  • Existing system was inefficient, time-consuming
  • Need to ensure enquiries handled within statutory timeframes
  • Existing scanner set-up over-complicated, difficult to use

Benefits:

  • Faster, streamlined process improves efficiency and productivity
  • Delivers enhanced service to the public
  • Achieves SLA targets
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To ensure Exmoor National Park’s staff provide a timely response to postal correspondence about planning applications, the Park wanted to introduce an automated workflow management system. With the help of Bristol-based Fujitsu partner Open Connections the organisation achieved this – enabling employees to work more efficiently and improve the quality of service provided to the public.

The challenge

Created in 1954, Exmoor National Park is one of 15 national parks across the United Kingdom. Its employees are responsible for conserving and maintaining the stunning landscapes, wildlife and cultural heritage of this area of outstanding natural beauty, as well as promoting the park to the general public.

“The fi-6130 scanners are very simple to operate and this was critical as the people who use them are not technical specialists.”
Martin Allen, Account Manager, Open Connections

“The Open Connections/Fujitsu solution has delivered exactly what we wanted in terms of reliability, ease of use and efficiency.”
Allan Winter, ICT Systems Manager, Exmoor National Park

Target timeframes

Building projects within Exmoor National Park are subject to strict regulations and all planning applications for the area must go through the Park’s planning office. But with hundreds of pieces of mail arriving at the office each week, ensuring that all enquiries were responded to within statutory timeframes was proving a challenge.

The existing process involved administration staff scanning all correspondence and filing electronic copies. They then entered details into a spreadsheet to record which member of staff was dealing with each enquiry, and kept a manual record to track whether responses had been sent within the target timeframe, following up any delays with the individuals concerned.

“Our previous spreadsheet-based system was inefficient, time-consuming, and the fact that responses were tracked manually meant there was always the possibility of something being overlooked,” comments Allan Winter, ICT Systems Manager at Exmoor National Park. “In addition, our existing scanner set-up was over-complicated and difficult for staff to use.”

User-friendly solution

To simplify and improve the efficiency of the process, the organisation decided to implement a new correspondence management system with automated workflow management functionality. “We selected the Open Connections proposal because it delivered a comprehensive end-to-end solution,” explains Winter. “The Fujitsu fi-6130 A4 scanners support Kofax Express software and this enables automatic capture of key information as well as integration with workflow functionality in Microsoft Sharepoint.”

Making the scanning process more straightforward for administration staff was also an important requirement and a key factor in Open Connection’s recommendation of Fujitsu equipment. “The fi-6130 scanners are very simple to operate and this was critical as the people who use them are not technical specialists,” remarks Martin Allan, Account Manager at Open Connections.

The fi-6130 can automatically feed documents of up to 50 pages, from business cards to A4 size. It is both compact and fast, scanning up to 80 duplex images per minute in colour or black and white.

End-to-end process support

Now, administrators scan each piece of incoming mail with the user-friendly Fujitsu desktop scanning equipment. Thanks to Kofax VRS, an enhancing tool that comes as standard with most Fujitsu scanners, the images are refined to make it easier for the Kofax Express software to extract key indexing data – such as the planning application number that the correspondence relates to.

The scanned image and related indexing information are then automatically loaded into SharePoint, and an email containing a link to the file in PDF format is sent to the member of staff responsible. Once the individual has responded to the correspondence, they complete a ‘task’ in Microsoft SharePoint. If the task is not completed within the target timeframe an automatic reminder is sent by the workflow system and a senior manager is also informed.

Increased efficiency

Supported by the new solution, administrators are now able to complete daily scanning and indexing of incoming mail much faster than before, significantly improving productivity. And task tracking within the workflow solution enables managers to ensure that all correspondence is followed up in a timely manner, enabling the organisation to deliver high standards of service to the public.

“The whole process is a lot more efficient, and the administration staff are no longer put in the awkward and uncomfortable position of having to chase up their colleagues to remind them to respond to an item of correspondence,” highlights Winter. “With automated reminders, there is no confrontation, everything happens within the target timeframes and nothing gets missed.”

Supporting future strategy

Winter is confident that the solution in place provides the capacity needed for the management of a growing amount of planning correspondence over the coming years. He is also excited about the potential opportunities for eliminating the need to archive hard-copy correspondence, significantly reducing storage requirements and costs.

“The Open Connections/Fujitsu solution has delivered exactly what we wanted in terms of reliability, ease of use and efficiency,” concludes Winter. “It is an invaluable part of our long-term document management strategy.”