Image shows a couple outside their rental property with an agent.

Digitising legacy records for Sunderland-based housing association

Gentoo Group Limited is a housing association that owns and manages more than 29,500 homes across Sunderland. Formed in 2001, they provide 60,000 tenants with a place they can call home.

As you can imagine, Gentoo has accumulated a lot of paperwork since then. While they started digitising in 2011, this didn’t apply to the legacy documents for the older properties on their books. This consisted of around 35,000 files, each with an average of 85 pieces of paper stored in depots and offices across Sunderland. That’s around 600,000 sheets in total!

So, when the Group carried out a review of its accommodation, Head of Data Governance, Paul Sandersfield saw an opportunity. Downsizing their physical space would offset the costs of digitisation, free up office space, and provide a much more efficient way to access legacy files. And that’s where Datatron came in.


The time challenge

While the Group had its documents in multiple sites across the city, there was one building scheduled for demolition. So Gentoo had to scan and digitise the documents from this site quickly while still adhering to the necessary compliance policies.

Datatron made an on-site visit to the facility and, as such, we were able to determine Gentoo’s specific requirements and come up with an efficient digitisation strategy.

An efficient approach

Every client is different, with requirements changing based on their industry and the expertise of the project lead. As Gentoo operates in a heavily regulated area, this wasn’t a case of just picking up documents and scanning them off-site. We needed to carefully catalogue them, with every box of files signed off before transportation.

While this could have been a time-consuming process, the valuable input of the client made it faster. Gentoo provided unique references for all the properties. This meant that there was already a system in place for us to organise the digitised files for accurate cross-referencing.

Ahead of the curve

Gentoo can now access these legacy documents digitally. And they converted the site that once stored all that paperwork into 15 affordable properties.

Indeed, the project was a resounding success. So much so, that Gentoo gave Datatron the go-ahead to digitise the legacy records for sites across two more areas.

While many organisations struggled to provide services during lockdowns during the pandemic, Gentoo was ahead of the curve. Thanks to its digitisation, when a client from three of the five areas asked for access to documents, Gentoo could provide it. Since there are often legal requirements to provide information to tenants or solicitors within a short timescale, this kind of access was crucial.

Digitising for the future

Two of Gentoo’s offices will soon move to Sunderland City Hall. And while this signals a new and exciting chapter for them, it also means even less storage space.

They plan to move all their legacy files off-site, freeing up half their offices across the city. They’ll also save on the cost of outsourcing storage facilities, which are expensive, especially when you’re dealing in bulk.

The most attractive benefit, however, is that they can easily access all their legacy records while remaining in line with current regulations. When you’ve got several years’ worth of paper in multiple locations, this is priceless.

If you’re planning for the future and want to discuss digitising your legacy records, reach out for a chat.


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