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The benefits of EDMS for HR

Electronic document management systems (EDMS) can transform the speed and quality of information access in Human Resources. Howard Frear of EASY Software looks at the benefits of electronic document management and workflow.

Not only do HR departments have to keep running costs and remuneration packages down, but they also have to continue to meet their legal and compliance requirements and cope with the transfer of staff during acquisitions, restructurings and downsizings. HR professionals can struggle to find employee records, sometimes dating back decades, when relying on paper archives and a variety of IT systems. European legislation, which now states that staff can ask to see their HR files at any time, has made things even more difficult especially if employees have left the company and material cannot easily be sent by post or email. Secure corporate intranets can sometimes offer a solution, for example, allowing staff to manage their own expenses online, but even here there are dangers if becoming too dependent on IT systems means data confidentiality is compromised. Maintaining the balance between having ready access to up-to-date records while maintaining strict confidentiality can be a challenge.

Cleaning out the archives
Johnson Cleaners UK (JCUK ) is a high-profile laundry business in the UK with a central processing unit, 500 branches around the country. After applying the technology to its finance processes to handle purchase ledger invoice processing, the company expanded the capabilities to encompass other departments including HR. Today the company’s HR department has a legally secure repository of all employee-related documentation for starters and leavers. The HR team now has its own scanning stations and is completely self-sufficient in capturing and managing documents electronically. Once paper documents have been imaged, the originals are put into ‘deep storage’ so that they are retained for legal purposes but otherwise never need to be seen again.

Easy co-operation
The Co-operative Group has 85,000 employees and needed a more efficient way of ensuring HR personnel had staff records at their fingertips wherever they happened to be working at any given time. To this end, the company has implemented a browser-based system which ensures that all content is held centrally, and is never compromised because it is security-controlled and accessed according to strict user rights via a browser. The Co-op’s HR document management application focused on content that needs to be retained for legal reasons. This encompasses 600,000 documents, each with multiple pages, amounting to over 1 million pieces of paper – documents that are vital for group compliance and which require a clear audit trail. Now HR staff have access to information at the touch of a button, and HR documents now have full audit trails, and cannot be deleted or mislaid.

Conserving resources
Anglian Water, the largest water company in England and Wales, decided to outsource all of its electronic document capture and storage activities on an ongoing basis. Its HR department was routinely handling upwards of 3,500 HR files and driven by a need to increase efficiency, corporate concerns over losing documents from flood or fire and a desire to reduce paper storage costs, the HR Services Manager led a project to move the HR documents into an electronic domain.

It opted for a remotely hosted solution whereby the HR team accesses the content using a simple web client. This enables personnel to retrieve its documents from their desks – and without the need for the company to have implemented any hardware or software of its own.

Specialist solutions go furthest
As document management technology continues to evolve, HR-specific solutions can provide the ability to provide controlled, temporary ‘guest access’ to selected records. It is also possible to map a company’s organisational structure within some HR-specific document management systems, so that it becomes easier to move files as team structures and people change. Document management should be easy. If it isn’t, it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board.

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