Government Case Study: Agency Gets Better Information Access
The Challenge: An Overflowing Records Room
File storage and retrieval had become a difficult challenge for one North American Government Agency. The old storage system—a combination of bookshelves and pull-out filing cabinets—could no longer adequately contain the thousands of file folders, binders and boxes of records that project managers and contract researchers needed to access as they worked on litigation cases pertaining to their clients.
”We were overflowing,” recalls the branchs manager of contracts and administration. ”We would get so much material in that they would end up on the floor and blocking the aisles between the bookshelves.”
A Waste of Time and Money
The lack of storage space at the Litigation Management Resolutions Branch resulted in delays locating and retrieving the litigation files and document collections project managers and researchers needed.
”Files and document collections weren’t always where they were supposed to be,” says the branch manager, ”because we simply didn’t have enough room to put everything in the right place. In addition to making it difficult for Litigation Management Resolutions Branch staff to file documents in their appropriate spots, the lack of space left little room in the records area for researchers to review documents.
“The time wasted looking for files translated directly into higher costs since most of the agencys researchers were contract workers who charged by the hour. The old system was a great time and money waster,” the manager says.
Security and Safety Risks
In addition to not having enough room for all the branchs records, the storage design also did not allow the branch to keep its sensitive litigation files in a secure, separate area. Consequently, the branchs commissionaire would have to accompany anyone who came into the room, including service people such as telephone or computer repair personnel.
The overflow of boxes and file folders onto floors and aisles also presented a potential danger in case of emergencies such as fires or earthquakes.
Jeter Presents a Solution
The agency’s Litigation Management Resolutions Branch asked Jeter to create a solution that would address its growing needs today and in the future. Jeter’s regional sales manager proposed the following changes:
- Replace existing five-tier bookshelves with eight-tier EZ-10 high-density mobile shelving configured to hold a mix of boxes, binders and folders. These mobile shelves, which would move on tracks set into a sub-floor, would give the staff the ability to push the carriages holding the shelves together when not in use, thus reducing the need for aisle space between each bookshelf.
- Convert 3,500 records from pocket file folders—which always need to be viewed at eye level—to end-tab folders. This would allow the litigation management and resolutions branch to store its files higher and maximize use of vertical space.
- Use freed-up floor space to create work stations where researchers can sit down and review files.
- Secure litigation files by placing them in a section of the mobile system accessible only to the file clerk and a few other authorized personnel.
- Create a holding space for incoming files which need to photocopied or scanned, or closed and placed in archives.
Putting the Proposal into Action
Jeter put its proposal into action quickly, managing the entire project from dismantling old cabinets to construction, shelving installation, and file folder conversion. Because a mobile sub-floor needed to be built, Jeter staff had to move all files to another floor in the building.
”During this time, we had to make sure the litigation files were kept secure,” says Jeters sales manager. ”We engaged the commissionaire to look after these critical files full-time. The work was planned so as not to impede workflow and access to files. Jeter completed the project, which cost $120,000, in five days.”
“We project-managed everything from start to finish,” says Jeters sales manager. ”Thats what a lot of clients appreciate about Jeter—our ability to deliver a wholesale change with minimal disruption to their workplace.”
The most beautiful system I’ve seen
With its new Jeter EZ-10 mobile system in place, the Litigation Management Resolutions Branch now has ample shelving space to house all its files plus room to accommodate the steady influx of new documents.
”We also designed the system with extra aisle space to allow the branch to add more carriages in the future,” says Jeters sales manager. ”In fact, they’ve already added one more carriage since the original installation.”
Now that there’s a space for everything, retrieving files is no longer the challenge it used to be. The records room now has space for one work station, a table for document review, a computer, plus a small library of books.
”We’re now a one-stop shop and productivity has definitely improved,” says the branch manager. ”Researchers can now go into the room, get the information they need, review it and put it back so its there whenever they need it. Jeter’s solution has also increased safety and file security at the branch.
”Those boxes on the floors and walkways are all gone—everything is on the shelves now,” she says. “The litigation files are also in their own section, which is locked down in an area just outside the file clerks enclave.”
From a crowded, inefficient, and potentially hazardous storage system, the records room at the government agencys Litigation Management Resolutions Branch has now been transformed into what the branch manager describes as “the most beautiful system I’ve seen in my life.”
“It is definitely a massive improvement for us,” she says. “To have something that works and looks beautiful just makes all the difference in the world, and everybody is so happy with the product.”