Making sense of 6 million documents with machine learning

More than 6 million historical client documents held by the Western Australia Department of Communities Housing (Housing Authority) presented a major headache for staff owing to a lack of containment and classification. A new Ephesoft smart document capture system deployed by the Process Automation Group (PAG) is now assisting with making documents findable and enabling retention polices to be applied.

The Housing Authority has over 1,600 staff in 42 locations and provides housing for people who would otherwise struggle to rent or buy. It manages over 36,000 properties, making it the biggest landlord in Western Australia.

Because of its scale, the Housing Authority’s automated systems generate, create and store millions of documents annually. Six million of these letters and notices sent to their tenants were archived in HP Enterprise Content Manager (CM) without containment or classification.

The lack of containment prevented easy viewing when looking at individual property files and the lack of classification required permanent retention, thereby increasing costs to manage records and support associated infrastructure.

“It was a challenging, painful and costly process that we had been trying to resolve for years, so we turned to PAG for help,” explained Sheryl Gourdis, Manager Corporate Information at the Housing Authority.

PAG’s deep knowledge of document data extraction enabled them to integrate Ephesoft Transact with both HP ECM and a Kofax TotalAgility capture system, already used for the Authority's mailroom.

Ephesoft Transact was selected due to its flexibility and unlimited volume license to process all documents.

“We were relieved to find Ephesoft has unlimited document volume processing. On top of that, their sophisticated platform uses machine learning tools to add even more value as the system classifies more documents. Our process is more efficient, faster and we can easily find documents so we can better serve our staff,” said Gourdis.

“PAG quickly implemented the system and provided us with great service and training. They had experience with eliminating manual processes with Ephesoft, which fit our needs and budget.”

As part of the project, PAG is far along working to automatically extract the relevant metadata via fuzzy matching, which enables each document to be contained with its relevant retention policy applied. In parallel, the system will improve their decentralised document processing through multifunction devices.

PAG has worked with the Housing Authority for several years and has advised them on other business improvement processes.

“Ephesoft’s platform met all the requirements for our client. Now that a streamlined process is in place, we expect to see the Housing Authority’s records’ processing cycles decrease over time. We were able to keep our client’s costs down while adding tremendous value to their agency,” said Adam Niedzwiedz, Director at PAG.

“Ephesoft is pleased to provide a vital service to Western Australia’s Housing Authority,” said Andrew Rootes, Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan at Ephesoft.

“Our goal is to help our customers accelerate their document, data and analytics processes and minimise manual processes. The platform is proven to drive efficiency, cost savings and allow organisations to use data to gain insight