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What this document covers so far:

Why do this?

The growing volumes (and duplication) of paper and electronic records while contending with largely manual processes to copy, email, mail, and file documents creates inherently challenging document processes. A lack of reporting and/or audit capability for more complicated internal and external requests contributes to duplication of effort. Our people work increasingly hard to verify and maintain files. We've a talented force of faculty, administrators and staff striving against increasing demands often with diminishing efficiency and increasing frustration.

Converting existing paper files and incoming forms to a digital repository with workflow mechanisms will enable University at Albany to build faster, easier access to documents. Ensuring that, in the course of the implementation, security, backup and recovery issues are addressed as well as compliance with regulations and auditing needs will free up people for other important work while reducing storage and shipping costs for University at Albany.

It is expensive to use faculty, administrators and staff to manually handle document management (note:  Windows Explorer is not document management). We spend more and more time handling documents*, which adds up to a significant waste of valuable resources.  We support document management because we cannot afford otherwise.

What we do:

The UAD Imaging Team (Nolij Team) will generally do the following for you:

  •   Spend time with you and your office members to observe and document existing business processes (business process analysis)
  •   Collect expectations/goals for implementing electronic records management including the dates of specific milestones in the project (plan, set project scope)
  •   Set standards for successful outcome for example "half the paper forms in the office literally go away"  or "all records pertinent for a specific process are retrieved in less than half the time it used to take"
  •   Plan, schedule and implement the rollout, coordinating with internal ITS resources needed to support this and subsequent re-implementations should your office and/or document imaging needs grow.
  •   Keep you posted as we move toward and through each milestone in the project.  (smile)

What you do:

You will answer these internally, spend some time discussing these, and meet with us to explore your project requirements.

  • Review all your documents and for each “type” of document as why are these being scanned?  What is the value of preserving a digitized copy of the document for posterity?  Will we need to generate an almost exact replication of it?
  • List ALL the various kinds of paper documents in place now.
  • If you took all your existing documents and were tasked to organize them all by date, type, case, instance, occurrence how would you sort them first?  What is the first order by which your office “indexes” (labels) and identifies a document to fetch it back later?
  • Is there a document (or are there documents) which are common to the majority of your current folders?
  • Group the documents into sets of related items**
  • If there is, what general subject heading applies to this document (or these documents)?
  • Are there sets of related documents that are frequently accessed for a specific purpose?  What subject/label/heading would you give that purpose?
  • List three more subject headings in this manner which would effectively group most of your documents. ( Yes there will always be outliers.)
  • List the groups of documents in order of importance/sensitivity
  • List the document groups again in order of usage frequency.
  • Describe the indexing scheme for documents already in digital form
  • List where documents are right now and how they are retrieved.
  • List ALL document restrictions, identify which documents are limited in circulation and why
  • List ALL people who access the documents. 
  • Describe how various people get documents now: what is referenced in pulling documents for their use.
  • When documents are “checked out” from your group, what are your current processes for records search-and-production and how is the location of a set of documents “tracked” for privacy and security considerations?
  • When looking for a group of documents what do you need first?  ID, last name, department, job class, expected graduation date?
  • How does a document begin its life in the office, to whom does it get routed to/from and what determines whether it moves along to the next “inbox”?
  • Are there documents or papers that you could discard because the information is available elsewhere in our ERP system (PeopleSoft)?
  • Are there documents or sets of documents which are collected and filed but rarely, if ever, accessed later? 
  • Can any of the existing documents be consolidated into one page for future use?
  • If you could run a query (report) from your desktop in a browser would you seriously need all of the existing paper to be scanned?
  • If we could find places in PeopleSoft where data collected on some or your archive papers could be recorded, and all the other data on those papers is duplicate information – would you be willing to have someone key in the data and discard the paper?
  • Who in your office is familiar with the potentially applicable laws and regulations for documents your group maintains?
  • How often do you audit your filing system now?  Do your internal audits find problems?
  • How often are the original hard copy documents currently retrieved?
  • After scanning how often will you access the documents?  
  • How do you currently search for your files? (Name, birth date, SSN, etc.) 
  • Do you have a database (spreadsheet, rolodex?) with the index information for your files? Aside from Albany ID, what will be the common index value we will be matching the files to?
  • If there was only one keyword, in addition to Albany ID, available to use for calling up documents – what field would pull the most number of documents?  Once this difficult choice has been made, identify four more. J
  • Is this a one-time conversion project, or will there be ongoing scanning?
  • What would you like to do with the documents after they have been scanned? (Destroy, store off-site?)
  • Is the bulk of the scanning project able to be done off-site by a vendor at an offsite facility?
  • What types (system types) of files do you have to be imaged? (charts, photos, text documents.)
  • What are the documents stored in now? (Boxes, filing cabinets, shelves, binders, on the roof etc.)
  • Approximately how many boxes or filing cabinets total?
  • If in Filing Cabinets, how many drawers are in each filing cabinet?
  • Approximately how many files per file drawer or box?
  • Approximately how many pages per file?
  • Are all of the pages standard 8.5” x 11”?  If not, are the odd sized pages smaller or larger?
  • What document preparation is involved with this project (i.e. staples, fasteners, post-it’s, odd shaped/sized pages, etc…)? 
  • Who is responsible for the preparation of files for scanning? *
  • Are the pages one-sided, double-sided or both?
  • Are the pages black and white, color or both?
  • Are there any color documents including pictures?  If so, what percent of the total roughly will need to be high quality?
  • After scanning, do the hard-copy documents need to be re-fastened and put back into the file exactly as they were when before they were scanned, or can they just be placed neatly back into the file?
  • List the retention periods for document groups – how long they’re held, de facto archive plan(s)            
  • List all time periods when a surge in document production/collection happens
  • Indexing records as they are converted will significantly improve access and retrieval time.  Does all existing paper really need to be scanned or can some of the files be discarded now in preparation?
  • When would you like to have this project completed?

Legal issues surrounding document imaging.

Has anyone in your department reviewed the  applicable SUNY Records Management Policy? Would your department ever be tasked to deliver information in the event UA Administration needed to gather all documents to meet a FOIL request?   The SUNY Records Retention Schedule applies to records regardless of the format or media in which they exist, including computer-generated electronic records, according to Section 57.05 of Arts and Cultural Affairs Law.   Questions?  Contact Nedra Werling, the Records Management Officer at SUNY System Administration.

Document Classification (types) 

Classifying documents into functional categories

We need to analyze what we have and how we use it to develop the best structure for digital storage of our many acres of the rain forest. 

Sample Document Inventory for Nolij Web Implementation

Data Extraction and Classification

Build a grid like the one below to group the files you have now.  It can be as large as you need at first.  We’ll work together to slim it down.  Think of these as subject categories.  This is not unlike an old fashioned library card catalog which groups books of a similar type and subject (some places catalog by author and subject ) into different sections by which we may locate them in the library.

Document Group1

Document Group2

Document Group3

Document Group4

Specific example 1

Specific example 2

Specific example 3

Specific example 4

Our document groupings will be logical collections of files serving a similar purpose.  In NolijWeb these are known as Document Types.  What we are aiming for in making the grid is something like this:

Example of an HR Records Topology (from Iron Mountain’s view)

Employee Screening and Selection


Talent Management

General HR

Other (E.G. Claims, Litigation)

  • Resumes and applications
  • Interview records
  • Pre-employment testing
  • Verification and reference checks
  • Government forms
  • Benefit forms
  • Emergency notification forms
  • Performance management
  • Talent reviews
  • Training and certifications
  • Promotions and transfers
  • Exit interviews
  • Wage and salary information
  • Wage garnishments
  • Formal discipline
  • Job-related medical records
  • Unemployment
  • Records related to safety/disability
  • Diversity reporting
  • Records for litigation

Now make another grid like the one below to fill in keywords/indices/search terms you would use to retrieve a document today.  Again it can be as large as you need and we’ll work together to slim it down.  U Albany documents already in the Nolij Web system rely first on the Albany ID of the student. Therefore we will advise departments implementing Nolij Web to follow the established UAlbany convention as much as possible.  Secondary keys (called sub-indexes in Nolij Web) in use by other departments include Application ID, Financial Aid Year, Last Name, First Name, DOB, and Admit Term etc. 

The keys for finding documents will become the Search Fields we will use to pull up a record in Nolij Web. 

Example grid for collecting all potential search terms/key words/indices.


NAME (primary? last   only?)

Department ?

Major ?

Employee Class ?

Favorite ice cream? 

NOTE: More search keys means detailed searches; more steps are needed to gather all of the information for a particular record (student, employee, and committee).  Having multiple document types won’t hurt too much in terms of seeking a specific type of file across multiple records but keep in mind that every time we scan or import into the system we will need to pick one of these document types from a select menu. Hmmmm….that could be a mighty, mighty long select menu.

We eventually want to boil it down to a handful of major categories and as many document “types” as we reasonably need.  .

NOTE: Also, we aren’t very concerned about the file type as Nolij Web can absorb and display many different formats. Paper being scanned will be stored as TIFs.

To demonstrate how resilient our new document classification structure is let’s look at the ability of our new system to respond to requests like these:

Example 1:  Collect the I-9 forms on file for student employees stored within the past two years. 

Example 2:  Collect all the HR records for staff members in a specific position and pay grade who have more than a certain number of years of service and do not have a current or pending Workers’ Compensation claim.

Can we meet requests like this given the search terms and document types we’re planning to use in this example? Of course we can.

Return On Investment (ROI) of moving to digital files and workflow

How would you calculate the ROI (return on investment) if you were to opt into using Nolij Web?

To determine an estimate of the ROI of moving from paper processes to electronic document management, track employee work hours and storage costs. Then, compare that total number against the cost of using Nolij Web.  In terms of on campus storage count the cost of the filing cabinets we maintain.  Number of filing cabinets x 21 square feet x cost per square foot = annual cost.  So If one 4-drawer filing cabinet = 36,000 pages  and one 4-drawer filing cabinet requires 21 sq. ft. of storage space -- calculate the cost based upon the cost per square foot of office space (rent/however NYS Govt.  computes building usage for tenants). 

Cost of paper-based Document Management.xls

Take the most commonly handled documents and answer these questions:

  1. How many employees deal with that document regularly?
  2. On average, how many documents are retrieved, copied, and returned to filing daily?
  3. What are your expenses for the following:
    1.     Onsite/offsite storage.
    2.     Printing (paper, folders, stamps, copier/printer maintenance and ink/toner).
    3.     Labor costs of employees.  For the hours they spend finding paper documents – compute their hourly wage times that number.  
      This does not need to be exact. Tracking this can be as simple as using a post-it notes on each cabinet and personnel initial with the date and time each time they access files.

Need more help? Contact the ITS Service Desk.