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Digitisation: A critical imperative for government agencies

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Mr Virender Jeet,
Senior VP – Technologies, Newgen Software

Governments and government agencies today are working on mandates that will uplift the quality of citizen services. Having been traditionally branded as slow and inefficient, government agencies across the globe are taking to technologies that help them manage their affairs seamlessly and create greater satisfaction for their citizens.

Among the several aspects impacting government functions and managing information wedged in physical documents is a critical one. As agencies grapple with constant surge in the volume of documents they manage each year, they realise that effective and intelligent Digitisation is the only way to bell the cat. Unavailability of required documents at the right time, or retention of documents beyond their expiration might translate into substantial risks and liabilities. Archival of documents on any file server or physical media such as DVDs, tapes, etc., creates silos of information, and makes documents vulnerable to security threats. Further, the operational costs and risks associated with management, retrieval, transfer and disposal of physical documents are huge. Digitisation and centralised archival of documents in a secure environment with the use of a professional Document Management System then works out to be the only effective solution.

While the government agencies open their doors for myriad forms of Digitisation platforms and solutions, it is important to bear a few of these aspects in mind:
Document Quality Analysis – Quality is a crucial factor for long-term preservation of documents, especially scanned documents. A digitised document whose quality is sub-par is difficult to read and interpret, which renders it almost useless. Manual quality checks are generally not feasible owing to the high volumes being processed each day. The Document Quality Analysis tool ensures that the quality of digitised documents meets the pre-requisite standards. While most of the errors are corrected automatically, other errors are reported as exceptions that trigger re-scanning of the document.

Digital Signatures – Eliminating paper-based workflows and promoting electronic exchange of documents is the key to ensuring faster delivery of citizen services. However, electronic exchange of documents introduces the risk of forgery, malicious alteration of data and repudiation. Digital Signatures enable signing and validation of documents while those are created, reviewed and archived, which allows government organisations to ensure authenticity of documents, and save time and paper-handling costs.

Enforcement of Records Management Policies – Government documents need to follow a proper classification structure and well-defined metadata and retention rules to ensure compliance with applicable records management policies and standard operating procedures (SOPs). Further, records should be archived in a manner that for future reference all documents pertaining to a specific case/citizen can be accessed together. This can be achieved with the help of a robust records management component.

Compliance with Open Standards for Long Term Archival – Ensuring viability of documents against technology obsolescence is a major concern for government departments. For deciding on cases, these departments often need to access historical data. By use of open standards such as PDF/A, the risk of obsolescence can be mitigated.

Scalable Architecture – Government departments are faced with the challenge of managing constantly growing volumes of documents. Long-term archival of these documents in a secure environment is critical to ensure efficient delivery of citizen services. Hence, a highly scalable and secure document management system, capable of handling billions of documents in a high-performance environment, is essential for the success of every government digitisation project.

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