Days spent searching for official documents will soon be a thing of the past for Birmingham City Council staff, with a £40million scheme to transfer paper-based information to computers about to get under way.
Social workers will be among those to benefit most from being able to use laptops to view client details while out of the office.
At present staff often have to make two or three time-consuming trips to different buildings to obtain copies of documents.
People requesting local authority maps and other information will also be able to use the new system.
The Excellence in Information Management Programme (EIMP) involves electronically-scanning hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper which are stored in council offices across Birmingham. Sensitive legal documents would be retained on paper, the rest being shredded.
For an initial investment of £40million the council expects to save about £100million in 10 years, according to corporate director of governance Mirza Ahmad who said the system would break even after three or four years. A business case for it describes EIMP as a “true enabling programme which will transform the way the council uses its information”.
It adds: “It will support the council’s ambitions for improved collaborative working across the organisation, and with partners, to improve service efficiency and to deliver more positive outcomes for citizens. It will, in short, improve the council’s reputation, performance and contribute to improving people’s lives.”
Mr Ahmad added: “The council has lots of information stored but retrieving it can be difficult. This is about making sure those who need the information can have it in place at the time they need it. If you think of the time that can be saved it is incredible. Retrieving documents is sometimes the hardest part of the process because, unless it is catalogued in an appropriate manner, you can’t physically find it.”
“Realisation of financial benefits from this project is critical for me. If we don’t deliver on the benefits then that’s not value for money.”