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Gironde Customer Story

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Gironde goes paperless in managing its social security files, using Alfresco

The department of Gironde, a local authority employing 6,500 peoplecovers an area numbering some 1,505,517 citizens. It performs a multitude of tasks, being responsible for social security, high schools, roads, culture and local planning. It manages a budget of €1.64 billion and is administered by 66 councilors, spread over 33 counties.

The problem

Gironde wanted to introduce an enterprise-wide electronic document management (EDM) system to bring all the authority’s documentation under one umbrella and manage documents throughout their lifecycle.

The initial objectives of the project were to:

  • Digitize all the authority’s documents and manage them electronically;
  • Provide its agents with exhaustive reference material (reference documents and documents produced by the business applications) to enable them to instantly and easily access the whole knowledge base;
  • Create spaces for collaboration and document sharing for the benefit of both employees and external partners (service providers, voluntary organizations, etc.);
  • Manage document life-cycles, from creation to archiving;
  • Adopt an open-source solution;
  • Give preference to a solution in use in other local authorities, so that the costs of development could be shared.

The solution

Gironde was already using an electronic document-storage solution based on Alfresco that had been developed in conjunction with four other local authorities. It was decided to extend the use of Alfresco to support the new paperless project.

The project kicked off in February 2014. Widespread use of Alfresco began in October 2014 with the EDM project for personal independence payments (assistance to the elderly). In parallel, all the existing documents were digitized.

Today, the Alfresco Content Services repository is integrated with the business applications and is responsible for the following:

  • Management of social security benefits for the elderly and disabled. A scanning suite automatically imports documents in the social-security filing plan housed in Alfresco. A number of Alfresco Process Services workflows delegate out the workload.  Employees log in to process files via business applications integrated with Alfresco. A publishing application then prints out an answer to the benefit applicant, while a workflow places a digital version of the response in Alfresco. Alfresco records the exchanges and manages the life-cycles of the documents
  • Electronic processing of in-house notes for putting questions to the administration and receiving formal responses, managed by a personalized workflow
  • Management of invitations to events addressed to the president of the council, enabling him to delegate to his deputies, using a simple workflow 
  • Management of public-works contracts (soon going into production)

An interface with the authority’s intranet has been created. Thematic document sites have also been set up in Alfresco for sharing information, such as:

  • Websites for elected council members, enabling them to access documents in advance of committee meetings or study draft proposals;
  • Websites for the different sections containing reference documentation, including working procedures, organizational charts and action plans

Careful consideration was given to supporting users, as some were not accustomed to using a computer. Users received a short presentation in the lecture theatre, two days training on using Alfresco and personalized screens, an information pack, and access to an e-learning module. They can also use a hotline and refer to an IT adviser if they have any questions. The support system has proved successful and the users have all got a good grasp of the new system.

The use of Alfresco will be extended to other fields over the next 18 months. The authority is also studying the possibilities of using Angular (included in the latest version of Alfresco) to make screens more user-friendly and develop mobility to meet the needs of elected council members.

The results

Gironde is one of the very first departments to go paperless with its social security benefit files. 1,500 employees are now regularly connected to the Alfresco solution. They benefit from immediate access to all files, because all documents are now in digital format. Versions are managed so that they always have the latest version of each document. The workflows track the progress of files and make clear which employee is engaged in editing a document.

Alfresco offers considerable gains in terms of traceability. The project has made the various circuits much safer, as documents no longer go astray and the workflows ensure that processing is not interrupted. Users benefit from a better quality of service as they no longer have to chase up the administration, nor supply the same supporting document several times over.

The Alfresco solution also lends itself to remote working. This was not one of the initial objectives but a fortunate outcome as, at present, many employees work from remote sites several days a week. According to Gautier Poletto, project leader in the Information System and Digital Department: “This is a much-appreciated bonus as our premises are in the city center and therefore difficult to travel in to, whereas we have a hundred or so satellite offices located throughout the local-authority area, often only five minutes’ journey from our employees’ homes.” This is of great benefit to the authority, as one and the same office can be used by several people in rotation, which saves space.

Gautier Poletto insists on the importance of having an influential sponsor, even though the idea may come from the Chief Information Officer (CIO).

“Being able to access data and perform searches more efficiently, having the information one needs to hand with no risk of it getting lost, improved tracking of sensitive data, better cooperation and more effective dissemination of information, saving on space and maintenance by going paperless ─ these are all arguments that will persuade management of the benefits of the project.”

Gautier Poletto, Project Leader in the Information System and Digital Department