Providing information to the public has been an ancient and essential role of government. But managing it has become a more complex task.
Every year people find new ways to consume information with new technologies, and yet there are those who prefer older methods. Government must serve all of these people, managing information across a range of platforms from paper letters to Facebook.
These changes in technology are reflected in the way governments have organised and managed communications. The US set up a Government Printing Office 155 years ago. The office still exists today under a new name, having evolved from typewriters to a federal digital system for handling information.
Governments can get better insight for cost cutting, compliance and security by managing communications and content centrally, says Mark Maresch, General Manager of Asia Pacific, Services Professional Operations at Fuji Xerox Global Services.
Maresch believes that Document management is an area that has been largely unexplored in government. 80% of costs in these areas are largely “hidden” so people don’t see the room for improvement.
A central comms hub
They can use a “document centre” to manage communications across paper, digital, internal or citizen-facing channels. Fuji Xerox can help government set up a hub and run it on their behalf.
It can be used to send letters to citizens, secure embargoed press announcements or print a new annual report. Special software can be used to compose letters, emails or even SMSes for citizens and governments. Think of it as a data centre for documents.
It can also help officials share content, like marketing material, across departments. Fuji Xerox found that every single marketing department is now creating its own assets. The hub can be used as a central repository of shared digital assets to avoid repeating work already completed by others.
Some governments use modified versions of this approach, like the British Government, where they have a hub and spoke concept in which there is a centralised site and local sites. Non-urgent bulk printing can all be sent to a central hub, while local sites will give ministries the flexibility to print urgent documents immediately.
Uncover hidden costs
There is great potential for cost-savings from better document management. Few government agencies have looked into it, and it could be one of the “last frontiers”.
Businesses spend 1% to 3% of their revenue on printing alone, according to Gartner. In government, it may be higher because there is so much paper going around. And this does not include the costs of handling digital documents. IDC has found that companies spend up to 30% of their revenue on documents.
Communication hubs can bring down these costs by centralising documents. “The more volume you can pump through, the better economies of scale and the cheaper price they can all enjoy as a collective,” Maresch says. A Financials Services company, for instance, cut 20% of its printing costs after implementing a document centre.
They can also give governments better visibility into the costs. The centres come with websites to track the total cost of producing and processing documents. It uses analytics to find where paper printing is wasteful, allowing governments to look into digital options.
Tighter security control
Tighter control over security is another benefit of document centres. A lot of the material produced by agencies eventually goes out into the public domain, “but for the hours, days and weeks before they do, they probably are confidential – maybe very highly confidential,” Maresch says.
Fuji Xerox currently works with banks which, like governments, also require tight security on their documents. “We apply a very high standard to our document centre,” he says. Such centres can help governments enforce the same standards across ministries and agencies. “We are a neutral third party to help bring everybody onto the same processes,” he adds.
Repetitive tasks can be automated to avoid human errors, like inserting letters into the correct envelope. “We can link the printing and inserting process – both done by machine – to track that every piece of paper goes in the right envelop,” Maresch says. This is especially useful for letters with personal or financial information, like social security and tax statements.
Document centres come with dedicated staff and automated processes, so officials don’t spend time fiddling with machines. “We find this is almost a blanket benefit for every industry from having a document centre that has got specialised people trained in how to use the equipment,” Maresch says.
More broadly, it can help improve the entire organisation’s processes. A central hub gives officials a view of the entire flow of a piece of information or document from its creation to distribution and archiving. This allows them to identify any unnecessary steps and cut those out. You sometimes realise that you don’t even need to print. You can do it electronically and you take away one step.
Fuji Xerox studies document flows and processes, and can advise agencies on how to setup a modern information hub. They recommend the best way to set up a document centre for their clients to achieve the greatest streamlining of processes and better cost management.
To see examples of how Fuji Xerox’s strategies have been employed by our clients, and can be applied to your organisation, please contact us here and/or visit us at www.fujixerox.com/eng/solution/globalservices