Qatar Foundation’s (QF’s) Record Management Department, Quality Management System (QMS) Directorate, has implemented a new Correspondence Management System to record and track correspondence coming in and going out of QF.
The Correspondence Management System has been in development for the past two years as an initiative of the Vice President Administration Office. Meetings with experts from QMS Directorate, Information Technology Directorate, and Meeza, were followed by thorough testing and now the application has been initially launched.
Michael Brittan, Manager, Records Management Department, explained that the system was designed to provide a solution for managing the volume of communication and correspondence coming into the Vice President Administration Office from internal and external stakeholders.
Correspondence coming to the President of QF, for example, may need to go through many stages before a response is formulated. It may be sent on to executive directors of various centers, and passed onto specialist managers to address certain details.
QMS started the project by surveying executive secretaries to fully understand the challenges they faced in managing correspondence, and what tools they required from such a system. The secretaries reported that they needed to make numerous phone calls to track the progress of a piece of correspondence.
The survey found that it took an average of 2.2 hours simply to process an item, including tracking it and following up to ensure actions are completed, but not including the content creation itself. The system is expected to reduce this to 20 minutes.
New correspondence can be created within the system, which includes standard templates for all QF correspondence. It can also be scanned into the system from paper copies, or imported from email or fax.
It is then sent through the system to the necessary recipients with directions of what they need to do, other notes and deadlines. Recipients receive SMS messages or emails to alert them they have received a file, or to remind them of an impending or overdue deadline.
Hind Al Sada, Head of Business Support, QF Group Executive Director – Administration, said: “One of the management focus areas is to improve operating efficiencies through continuous improvement.
“At the beginning, we were looking to improve the management of correspondence in our office, but it has become something bigger. The system is not only saving time and cost, but becoming a central place to store all correspondence.”
The progress of the correspondence is illustrated graphically, so the involved parties can see who has completed which actions at any point in time, and read their feedback and notes. As part of QF’s drive to go paperless, the system also includes the ability to digitally sign documents with an electronic pad.
The system keeps a record of all correspondence, notes and amendments for future reference, and uses Optical Character Recognition on scanned documents, which creates text files from the documents, meaning users can search for documents using keywords.
It is also integrated with QF’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, which logs the holidays of QF staff, so if someone is not present the Correspondence Management System will pick this up automatically, and delegate the job to a colleague.
An app for iPhone and iPad will also enable directors to access the system remotely, and the system includes tools, which monitor its performance and efficiency-savings graphically for reporting purposes.
Noor Al Khater, Lead Records Management Specialist, Business Improvement, said: “Entities of QF receive a lot of correspondence so we expect demand for the system will be high. The key to the success of the system is the training and support, and we provide thorough training to the executive secretaries before introducing it to the directors, and there is also a dedicated systems specialist on hand to help with any issues.
“The support of the directors is also crucial to its success. They need to insist that they use the system when they are asked to sign something, to encourage others to use it. Having the support of the Group Executive Director for the application enforces that this is the direction that QF wants to move in.”