The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) helps farmers, growers and supply chain companies improve business efficiency, competitiveness, and productivity. AHDB is a statutory board funded by an industry levy. It provides levy payers with key research and marketing intelligence to prepare the business for future success.
AHDB works with organisations in many different sectors of the farming industry. It regularly communicates with thousands of levy payers and stakeholders, exchanging information on everything from pork marketing to leaf spot research.
Since AHDB was formed in 2008, the volume and diversity of its digital content has grown significantly. Managing it was becoming a significant challenge. Finding the right documents and data was difficult for AHDB staff because naming standards, storage structures and retention policies were not always consistent.
Valuable information was sometimes held in personal emails, so other users were unable to access it. Potential ‘corporate memory loss’ of documents was also a concern. AHDB is committed to information transparency and was determined to resolve its document management issues. GDPR compliance, and the 20-year rule that requires statutory bodies to transfer content to The National Archives, added extra impetus.
In 2020, AHDB laid the foundations for an electronic document and records management system (EDRMS) to meet its distinctive needs. Detailed requirements were gathered from a wide range of staff. Draft policies were created for document classification and retention periods.
A deployment plan was developed for email, digital files, and physical files. Naming conventions were established.
We had good building blocks in place, but we needed an infrastructure to test them out and find what tools would work best to deliver our objectives.
Says Lee Warren, Head of Information Management and Security for AHDB.
CPS proposed a Proof of Concept to take the project forward. This would enable AHDB to road-test its EDRMS plans with users throughout the organisation and then build and implement a Model Office Pilot based on that experience.
CPS suggested that the solution should leverage AHDB’s Production Microsoft 365 tenant. This would be cost-effective and use the proven capabilities of applications, such as Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and SharePoint.
CPS provided architect-led expertise to build the Proof of Concept. The CPS team listened carefully to what we wanted and provided good practical answers.
Says Lee Warren.
AHDB knows its EDRMS solution will work in practice and has a trusted CPS partner to help them implement it. The rollout will be a shared process, with CPS supporting AHDB trainers and six application champions to encourage user adoption of the new consistent practices.
CPS will implement an architecture that allows AHDB to spin up multiple collaboration sites for daily work of AHDB users. When content reaches its natural end of life, it can be deleted, archived in place, or moved to the main document site to allow for retention and disposition.
The solution will give people more confidence in the quality and currency of information we generate and share. It should also make users more productive by being able to search for content faster and get what they want straight away. Our knowledge library, where we store archive material, will also be a lot easier to manage.
Explains Lee Warren.
We have the EDRMS infrastructure now to bring in specialist document management tools as we need them. For example, we are using a new tool for managing and storing email attachments to enable better sharing. That shows we can have real confidence in our EDRMS solution’s flexibility into the future.
- Improved delivery of relevant information to levy payers.
- Better productivity as staff can quickly access the right documents and leverage email content.
- GDPR compliance and easy content migration to The National Archive in future.
EDRMS solution will get documents labelled, stored, and retained consistently. Document management infrastructure supports the addition of specialist software, such as a new tool to store email attachments for easy sharing. Oversight of all content ensures holistic control of data for compliance and migration.
A word from the team…
We had the evidence that CPS were recommending a good solution from the moment we tested the Proof of Concept with 16 sample users. CPS made it easy for users to understand how the new document practices would work, and they endorsed the project with high approval scores. I went into meetings with users looking for problems and simply couldn’t find them! Rarely have I known a project go so smoothly.
Lee Warren, Head of Information Management and Security for AHDB