Redaction = ROI for Document Imaging Systems

By Richard Porter-Roth posted 05-25-2011 12:49


In talking with a potential client last week, the client was interested in how ROI can be achieved and what other benefits can be realized through a document imaging system implementation. I used the example below of a typical paper-based information request (FOIA for government folks).

AS IS Process:

  1. Request comes in and clerk locates the appropriate documents in file room or off-site storage repository.
  2. Clerk makes photo copies of document package.
  3. Clerk, with black marker, manually redacts all appropriate information.
  4. Clerk makes photo copies of redacted copy (prevents seeing type bleed through).
  5. Clerk prepares envelope and documents for mailing.
  6. Clerk mails redacted copy to requestor.
  7. Clerk places first set of redacted copies in burn barrel.
  8. Clerk refiles original documents. (process repeated even if for same documents.)

TO BE Process:

  1. Request comes in and clerk searches for and locates documents electronically.
  2. Clerk runs redaction program. (original info not changed)
  3. Clerk reviews redacted documents online.
  4. Clerk emails documents (PDFs) to requestor.

In the above actual example, the number of steps has been cut in half but the real story is that the time and cost to complete the TO BE scenario is about 25% of the AS IS time and cost. Not only that, but we determined that the system-based redaction of the documents was more accurate than the manual process. Thus, a better product was provided at a lower cost.

Another example we talked about was a State agency that had over one million paper documents in an archival repository and “citizens” made FOIA requests for these documents. An AS IS process similar to the above process was used but for the TO BE process, a vendor was selected to scan and OCR the documents and when complete, the original paper documents were destroyed. Then, the vendor ran a redaction program against the scanned documents and permanently redacted the documents. The documents were then made available to the public via a full-text search program and the people responsible for servicing these requests were reassigned to other work. In this effort, the gains were that a paper repository was eliminated, redaction permanently eliminated the PII, and the operation was turned into a self-service operation with no additional resources needed from the State to fulfill the requests. Again, redaction technology was able to provide a better product at a lower cost.

These are real-world examples of not only the benefits/savings of document imaging but how the technology literally changed how work was accomplished in a company.

Bud Porter-Roth

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