Troublesome Threesome II July 9, 2009Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Others.
Tags: Archiving, enterprise records management, erm, scanning
Note: “Troublesome Threesome I” received a short and interesting comment from Michael Jahn. “it is never that simple !”. Very true. Archiving has many challenges and I truly agree with it. Hence, it was time to communicate the focus of this post series. The scope of these posts are not to highlight all the challenges of Archiving. This is merely sharing selected one or more interesting and maybe unique issues that made the relevant archiving projects near disaster. In case these are not unique, I do hope this helps others avoid the same issues.
So here goes the next one…
This time the fiasco occurred in an autonomous Trade Zone. Their requirement was to archive the registration records of the companies trading in their zone and also the Visa records of the employees with those companies. Each file contained various records, but the need from the client was to archive them as one multi-page PDF/A file.
A study of the physical archive showed that each company had a separate folder and each employee too. The approach was quite straightforward. A team to remove the records from the folder, remove the staples, organise in the right order and send it to the scanning team, who would then scan them into a shared drive. The indexing team would then retrieve this from the shared drive (using Folder Watch) and start indexing them. A quality assurance team then validates the indexing for each and every record. And finally,these records are then exported into the ERM system.
Apart from the usual challenges that all archiving projects of such magnitude face, both the client and us were not prepared from the huge issue we would unearth during a random detailed quality check.
It was identified after nearly 500,000 pages of the records were scanned and indexed that there seemed to be quite a number of files where the pages were interchanged or mixed with those from another folder. For e.g., the passport could be of Bob while the medical test report could be of John.
Being an outsourced assembly line project, which like most archiving projects, the staff employed were not knowledgeable of the content nor were they trained to understand the contents of the pages (mainly for security reasons). Hence, everyone went ahead with their jobs without focusing on the content.
The mix up had occurred over the physical archiving carelessness practiced over time. Since the assumption at the beginning of the project was to trust the integrity of the physical archive, no focus was driven towards it. The client also, unfortunately, had key reasons that prevented them allowing an extension into the project. Both in time and money. And the prestige of the client required us to rectify these mix ups at least on the ERM system.
This required us to assemble another production line to retrieve these 500,000 pages and study them page by page and re-archive them. One project and twice the resources. While the time and cost of the client remained more or less the same, our bottom line had taken a hit.
For Clients: To assume that your physical archive which has been functional for ages is accurate and consistent could be fatal. Regular reviews over the integrity over your physical archives can ensure that when they get scanned into a digital record, the inconsistencies in the physical environment do not get inherited into the ERM.
For Vendors: Never trust the integrity of the physical archive. If the project demands from you to rectify the inconsistencies of the physical archive, it would be advised to do a full and detailed analysis of the physical archive to quote yourself considering additional resources required. Or just like the first of this series, having a clause built into your contract will ensure that you are not liable for any discrepancies from the client.
Troublesome Threesome I July 7, 2009Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Others.
Tags: Archiving, document capture, enterprise records management, erm, scanning
First and foremost, I owe an apology to the limited few who have followed this blog. Various silly excuses ranging from fatigue to lethargy to procrastination to writer’s block has contributed to this much delayed post.
I did consider putting up a list on How-to-Archive or yet another one on Points-to-consider-to-Archive. But, there is plenty of much better and more mature information out there. Hence, after a long hard thought, I decided to showcase three different archiving disaster cases I encountered in my experience.
(Some of my esteemed readers are former colleagues who have encountered these cases and hence, may seem redundant to them. I invite you to contribute/correct.)
- Down the Drain… (almost)
What seemed like a normal outsourced archiving exercise for the Drainage Department for a local municipality became a nightmare. The job was simple. Scan the wide-format drawings, index them based on certain information available on the Title Block and archive them into their Document Management System.
It started well; we were given a sample drawing with the required meta-data clearly marked on the Title Block too. Little were we to know that this simple, straightforward exercise was soon to go almost down the drain.
The first signs of discrepancy arose when one of our indexing staff identified that the Title Block for one of the drawings was different from the sample on which they were trained. Being non-engineering clerical staff, they are not competent enough to differentiate any naming convention changes across similar drawings.
As would be the case, we immediately addressed this to the client. The differences were identified and work once again resumed as normal. Our clerks had hardly warmed their seats, when the next one popped up followed by the next followed by the next. Until, as a final straw, we came across a drawing which merely had the Municipality name and nothing else.
A fully outsourced project now required hands-on participation from their Document Controllers and through a slow and tedious training process, the indexing responsibility was handed over to them to complete the indexing.
For Clients: It may seem obvious that all your drawings have a similar structure and information set. Do keep in mind that different contractors use different templates for different projects. Hence, it is critical to ensure you know your drawings per project and per contractor. Even better would be to have a standard template that all contractors should comply with. Unless, you want to depend on your Document Controller’s memory.
For Vendors: Similar to the clients, it would be recommended that you too review the drawings per project per contractor to ensure that you would have identified any discrepancy. It may not be possible that you could have done a review prior to being awarded the project. Hence, having a clause built into your contract will ensure that you are not liable for any discrepancies from the client.