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The document management in public administration

Ana Canteli

Written by Ana Canteli on 23 August 2019

ICT is a constant in everyone's daily life and is present in more and more areas of our lives. The public sector is no exception. In fact, new technologies allow public administrations to manage their services with higher quality and efficiency both in the rendering of the service and in the use of public sector resources.

There is a growing number of administrations worldwide that are adding to the implementation of electronic document management systems. The aim is to manage and optimize the business process of its staff and citizens. Not surprisingly, the Public Administration is an essential generator of information as a producer of laws, personal records, historical, geographical, environmental, or scientific knowledge, among others. This information is beneficial, not only for the administration but also for citizens and private organizations.

Document management systems involve, among other actions, custody, protection, and controlled destruction of documents. In organizations, especially when they have a long history - as are usually the public administrations - many paper documents are kept. Some of them are important and that it is necessary to maintain, but that being in physical format, they take up a lot of space and hinder access to them.

Today, document management software is a tool for the organization and administration of information, but it also acts as a catalyst for knowledge management and continuous improvement. They also mean a solution that provides transparency to public bodies, since by digitizing paper documents, they facilitate access and disposition of them to those who need them.

Objectives of an electronic document management system in the public sector

The incorporation of new document management systems must be the result of prior planning. 1º It is necessary to analyze which or what are the objectives to be achieved and in what period they have to be materialized. One of the essential goals is usually the improvement of records management, providing practical and fast access to all administration human resources. Another, a little more elaborate, maybe the development of decision making and content management to increase the efficiency and productivity of staff. This improvement could also help us achieve a global or strategic objective, the promotion of integral content management that the public administration generates in a certain period.

The OpenKM electronic document and record management system has been successfully implemented in multiple public organizations; at local, regional, national, and international levels, contributing significantly to the achievement of the following objectives:

  • Optimization of administrative processing. With OpenKM administrative processes that lasted days, weeks, or even months on paper will be streamlined. Users can perform their business processes in minutes, downloading routine tasks of the human resources, with little added value and sometimes, source of many human errors.
  • Standardization of administrative documents. Documents that initially had their meaning may now be useless files. They should evolve or declare them obsolete to promote more efficient and useful content management for online public administration.
  • Organization of administrative documentation: the record management system guarantees the application of the criteria to be ordered, the insertion or creation of documents, as a result of the activity of the public body. Know the level that corresponds to each document, as well as guarantee the security of the information and the application of the privacy policy of personal data.
  • Implementation of procedures for the conservation of paper documents and electronic documents. Documents and records managers can carry out exhaustive analyzes on the types of documents they have, thanks the File Plan included in OpenKM. They can also establish their cycle of life, business process, and what stages make it up.

Threats to the implementation of a document management system in public entities

Occasionally, the introduction of a new content management software in an ongoing organizational system can be seen as something negative, or a disturbing element by staff or beneficiaries of the status quo. This is something that slows down the process of implementing or accepting records management software.

  • Fear to lose the job: it is one of the most critical unfounded fears, as it can potentially affect all the human resources of the public administration. It is important, emphasise on the staff that the implementation of a new records management software will not destroy any job. Quite the opposite, it will contribute to strengthening the position of each employee, by increasing the productivity and efficiency of the services they provide.
  • Resistance to change: it is another factor closely related to the human capital of the public body. It ranges from the fear of technology from people who have carried out their job in a traditional way until now, to those who have difficulties adapting to new protocols or ways of acting. That is why at OpenKM, we offer training courses for end-users, Administrators, or Developers, which can be adapted to the needs of the entity.
  • Internal tensions. Sometimes there are disputes between different areas or sections of the same public body. Sometimes due to the preconceived idea, that a department or group of people will benefit more than others from the implementation of document management software. It is something straightforward to avoid by establishing a collaborative communication and work strategy. Available to all productive units, so that they can express and express their needs and expectations. OpenKM document management system contains a task manager that can improve the management of meetings that staff may need.
  • Interoperability: one of the critical points, especially for ICT managers of public administrations. Over the years, different technological solutions are being acquired that age differently. Some are updated, others become part of the administration's technological legacy, but ultimately, all of them should function as a single ecosystem. For this, OpenKM incorporates SDK's in Java, PHP and .NET to allow integration with any third application.

Benefits of implementing a document management software

The installation of OpenKM in public administrations has provided the following benefits:

  • Allows the creation of a multitude of documentary repositories: both distributed and unified, according to the needs.
  • Complete traceability. In document management, from version control to an audit log in which all the events that affect each document are collected, as well as the activity log of each user.
  • Control and monitoring of processes: the system is able to implement any documented procedure in the electronic version, which allows the examination of any event.
  • Multiuser: with profile management, roles, and security management at the granular level.
  • It facilitates the recovery of information and documents through the search engine. You can search and find any file based on a multitude of data or criteria, from search by content, to search by metadata.
  • Possibility of customization: what makes the system completely transparent to the user. OpenKM can act as front-end or back-end depending on the use case.
  • Scalability: both repository capacity and the number of users, through the support of a wide range of document formats.
  • Interconnection: the OpenKM suite facilitates the connection and communication of the document management software with the rest of the entity's technological infrastructure.

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