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By Bernard Wansink, CIO, Schiavello Group
Schiavello, a top 100 Australian private company, built on quality, service excellence and innovation, has been creating and servicing world-class environments for over 50 years. When assessing what is required to operate a successful, safe and compliant business, many factors need to be considered. The right people, technology, systems and equipment are paramount. A key but often neglected component is the role of the humble document.
While seemingly unimportant, the lack of a robust document management process to capture, track, manage and store documents, creates inefficiencies and leaves the door open to non-compliance and risk exposure.
The real power of document management lies beyond the ability to capture and store information. For Schiavello, the reliance on manual and labour intensive processes, left the company exposed to potential threats. The introduction of an intelligent workflow system created possibilities that were unimaginable.
Meeting industry compliance standards for quality, safety and Environmental documentation, required Schiavello’s system to move beyond shared storage space. This led to the birth of our Document Management journey.
Identifying the Way Forward
Knowing where you’re going helps you plan the right path to take. Understand the objectives and challenges with a Document Management Solution (DMS), various departmental needs, uses and the desired outcomes for that information.
Start by mapping out the document lifecycle.
How will the document move through the business? Is it linked to other processes? Is the same information required in various formats? Are different departments dependent on the information to execute their part of the process?
Having a clear understanding of the documents’ use helps establish a successful outcome.
What is Document Management?
True document management is often underestimated.
For Schiavello, the priority is to remain audit and compliance ready, failure to do so could have a significant commercial and financial impact on the business.
The discovery process identified eight main elements for the handling and managing information in our business:
1) Large file sizes and volume of files: Scalable document storage
2) Process and escalation: Implementing automated workflows
3) Legislative and government regulation: Compliance based content archiving and workflow
4) Onsite approval and document compliance: Sign on Glass Technology
5) Work on and offline: Information accessibility
6) Risk, Contractors, Competency Registers: Knowledge Bases
7) Safe Work Method Statements, Safety Walk - Toolbox Talk: Document auto population
8) Certification standards and business performance: Visibility and reporting
The introduction of an intelligent workflow system created possibilities that were unimaginable
The Right People at The Right Time
While understanding core challenges and mapping existing processes are imperative, without the right people you are destined to fail before you begin.
Identify key stakeholders in order to pinpoint issues, recognise roadblocks and deliver a solution that addresses the need. Identify which departments use it and why, what key information is important and how it needs to be presented for each group.
Bite Off What You Can Chew
We’ve all been part of a project that doesn’t quite get off the ground because it seeks to address too many issues with one solution.
To ensure a timely outcome, define the scope, develop the plan and focus on ordered priorities, one phase or document at a time. Challenge assumptions, ask why and re-engineer until the process is clean, only then look at how to enable it.
Executing in bite-size chunks allows you to improve or adjust the process moving forward.
Scalable Solutions over Products
Investigate a platform proven to meet your specific needs; this could be a hybrid of multiple software or a customised solutions.
Good partners will help you decipher the options and choose one that’s right for you. For Schiavello, a combination of M-Files, our existing ERP systems and customised partner solutions provided the platform to achieve our objective.
Scalability & flexibility are important factors in making your decision. Is the solution flexible enough to meet future growth and needs? Can it be applied and adapted for use in other documents and parts of your organisation?
Pick Your Partner
Selecting the right partner is crucial to success. Choose a partner who understands your business processes, project objectives, has the skillset and experience required and are willing to share the risks to ensure a successful outcome.
A clear requirement list acts as an excellent filter to vet partners. Schiavello’s DMS needs, outlined in the eight key elements, led us to Upstream Solutions, who provided an in-house team of solutions developers and architects, that understood our unique needs and were capable of providing a tailored offer.
Ensure a project management bridge exists between internal and external parties to create the structure for success. Establish clear expectations in the path for a fully integrated DMS solution that will benefit all functions.
Regular communication around checkpoints and milestones were key throughout our project to effectively manage expectations.
Close the Loop
Measuring success involves reviewing the process and outcomes and most importantly acknowledging successes. This helps clarify how the solution can be expanded and replicated in other parts of the business.
For Schiavello, the improvements and benefits to business functions were quickly recognized. This included process optimization, audit efficiencies and compliance mitigation. With visibility of the benefits, we’re now considering multiple areas in our business where efficiencies can be realised.
Working within this structure helped create a framework for success:
• Site Management Efficiencies – through electronic management and auto-population of compliance documentation.
• Records Management and Retention – the ability to retrieve documents instantaneously through one search functionality.
• Automated Notification and Escalation - immediate incident reporting or non-completion of compliance activities in real time.
• Desktop Audit Streamlining & Risk Control – remote verification of project compliance provides improved team efficiency, and enables instantaneous reporting.
Document Management goes beyond better ways to store paper.
Exploring efficiencies created through digital data capture, information access and automated workflows provides the ability to realise additional flow-on benefits and create a commercial advantage over our competitors.