Physical Mail Digitisation
Cumbria County Council wished to take advantage of a move to new premises by digitising physical mail received by the Council. By ascertaining which departments receive the most mail, the metrics would enable the Council to help digitise public services, resulting in more efficient and cost effective Council services
There were three parts to the Digital Mail Room (DMR) Project; Digital Capture, Digital Delivery System and Validation Consistency System. Within the project, Bridgeall were selected to deliver the Digital Delivery System solution that would receive scanned physical mail, convert it into an electronic format, and finally distribute it to the relevant department or individual.
Paul Stafford, ICT Programme Manager, responsible for the implementation of the EDRMS and Digital Mail Room projects, stated “After initial engagement with a number of possible suppliers, Bridgeall were chosen for the clarity and detail of their submission and ability to deliver within challenging timescales”.
Bridgeall developed the solution to take advantage of Cumbria County Council’s existing SharePoint 2013 on premise Enterprise Farm infrastructure. Bridgeall have extensive experience of building solutions for a number of public sector organisations for either SharePoint on premise or SharePoint Online.
Utilising Cumbria County Council’s existing on premise SharePoint 2013 Enterprise farm, Bridgeall set out to deliver a solution using out of the box (OOTB) SharePoint components in addition to custom development to deliver the more complex requirements.
The basis of the solution was the formation of a new Site Collection containing a drop off library and several document libraries and lists. On top of this Bridgeall created custom Workflows and Remote Event Receivers to carry out the business logic needed.
Bridgeall were aware that Cumbria County council had tight timescales on the project and as such we suggested an Agile development approach to delivery, in order to maintain a quick feedback loop through requirements, development and testing. The success of this approach was dependent on instant access to a Cumbria County Product Owner who understood both business and technical requirements.
The development was carried out in 2 Sprints of 10 days’ duration each with a Sprint Planning session upfront and a Sprint Retrospective session at the end of each Sprint.
A client workshop was set up at the offices of Cumbria County Council with the necessary stakeholders to help Bridgeall record user requirements for the development and understand the landscape of the project. The results of which would provide an Outline Architecture for the solution and allow Bridgeall to develop the solution.
User Stories were created and ranked to produce a Product Backlog that the Product Owner could maintain. These were then scheduled into the first sprint and delivered with additional user stories added to the backlog as the sprint progressed. SCRUM calls were planned daily to enable the Bridgeall project team to communicate and plan with the Cumbria County Technical Lead to deliver a clear and well understood solution. At the end of the first sprint the solution was deployed to Cumbria County's test environment, in order that Council stakeholders received early visibility of the functionality developed to meet their requirements. Feedback was provided and changes incorporated into Sprint 2.
This process was then repeated with Sprint 2 closely followed by a release of all the functionality into Cumbria County Council’s UAT environment where the solution was tested end to end. As Cumbria County Council had early visibility of the solution during development Bridgeall were able to compress the timelines for User Acceptance Testing (UAT), which resulted in the solution going Live earlier, which in turn helped the Council to meet the tight timescales for the Office move.
The end result is a SharePoint solution that can receive scanned physical mail and route it to the intended department or individual’s mailbox allowing them to view the mail on screen and carry out the appropriate actions. The system allows mail to be monitored, through the system process, to ensure SLA’s are met both at an individual and department level.
Paul Stafford, ICT Programme Manager, said:
"I’ve been really impressed with Bridgeall – from the initial onsite workshop through to completion of the project and beyond. They made sure they understood our requirements right at the outset and were willing to challenge and provide input into the system design which was really valued. The agile project approach ensured that we were always up to date with exactly where the implementation was up to. As it was a bespoke design with complex elements, the inevitable issues that came up were dealt with in a really effective and innovative manner. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with Bridgeall again in the future and am looking forward to engaging them in the further enhancement of our new Digital Mail Room system.”