Summary

The UK Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for children’s services and education, including early years, schools, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships, and wider skills in England.

DfE were utilizing ECHO, a customized Meridio EDRMS instance as the primary document and metadata store for their public correspondence system, which has been in place since 2004 and stored more than 7 million documents. ECHO was complex and costly to manage, and had left content difficult to navigate, govern, and distribute to both internal and external stakeholders.

The DfE also had more than 700,000 scanned images which required full text conversion and classification. A lack of searchable digital versions of these items had led to a gap in the completeness of the department’s available digital content portfolio.

The DfE decided to migrate its content to SharePoint  to:

  • Reduce the total cost of ownership of information management
  • Achieve intelligent search for hardcopy documents and images
  • Enable a seamless experience for the department’s existing Office 365 users.

Challenge

DfE’s highly customized Meridio enterprise content management system required in-depth analysis and reverse engineering by the Proventeq team to ensure that the design of the migration encapsulated the scope of the project and fulfilled all the organization’s specific requirements. The challenges encountered include the following:

  • Complex legacy platform: DfE’s entirely bespoke, domain-specific application required reverse engineering due to a lack of internal platform administration expertise.
  • Inconsistent source metadata: File types & extensions were incorrectly stored, requiring a deep file inspection to determine the correct file types prior to migration to SharePoint.
  • Full text conversion of image scans: More than 700,000 scanned images needed optical character recognition and full text extraction prior to migration to the SharePoint.
  • Target system thresholds: A new structure needed to be derived from the source content metadata to comply with SharePoint’s technical thresholds.
  • High content volume: With more than 7 million content items stored in the existing ECHO platform, DfE required full fidelity migration of all content to SharePoint.

Strategy

To overcome the challenges presented by the transition from DfE’s customized Meridio instance to SharePoint, Proventeq executed a tailored 5-stage content migration and transformation project plan.

Discovery & analysis. The team used Migration Accelerator’s rich discovery and analysis capabilities to ascertain the true volume and distribution of DfE’s content. During this phase, they identified and addressed many inconsistencies in the source content and associated metadata.

Information architecture optimization. Proventeq performed an in-depth analysis of ECHO Meridio file structure and metadata schema and designed an optimal target information architecture. The source system’s folder hierarchy exceeded SharePoint’s URL length limits, which the team resolved by loading documents in a shortened folder hierarchy.

OCR conversion of scanned files. The department’s scanned images were in a number of differing formats, including multi-page PDF files, stand-alone images, handwritten and typed documents. Proventeq extracted text from these images and exposed these as metadata; making the content searchable.

Pilot migration. To demonstrate that the migration design fully met DfE’s project objectives, Proventeq carried out a pilot migration stage. This allowed DfE’s internal team to evaluate the migration, and SharePoint document management capabilities in a production-like environment.

Full-fidelity live migration. Once DfE’s internal project team were satisfied with the migration design and target system architecture, Proventeq utilized Migration Accelerator to execute a full-fidelity migration with item-level audit trail. This ensured that more than 7 million items were successfully migrated.

Results

“The excellent collaboration between Proventeq, colleagues from Technology Directorate, MPCD (including IICSA) and KIM teams, have meant we successfully delivered a solution that meets the needs of the DfE and will facilitate easier searching of information by colleagues.” – Charlotte Saxon, IT Delivery Manager, UK Department for Education

Significant reduction in annual costs. Transitioning to SharePoint will remove the cost of maintaining the ECHO platform, saving the Department an estimated £170,000 per annum. Greater control over provisioning and security will result in lowered ongoing maintenance costs; further reducing the long-term total cost of information infrastructure ownership.

Smarter content and accelerated search. SharePoint has given DfE the power to consolidate content in a centralized online repository which is easy to govern, manage, and access. DfE also took full advantage of Migration Accelerator’s OCR functionality to perform full text conversion of more than 700,000 documents previously stored as non-searchable images.

This combination of consolidation, OCR text conversion, and intelligent classification helps DfE users find the content they need to accelerate collaboration and meet the challenges of departmental responsibilities and administration.

Enhanced productivity. Migration to SharePoint enables DfE’s records management team’s longer-term plans to include retention labels and make it clearer when items can be destroyed; providing significant time saving.

Risk of content loss mitigated. SharePoint has removed the risk of content loss presented by DfE’s previous unsupported ECM system, thanks to its built-in content administration capabilities.

A unique and complex migration, with problems solved in flight in order to deliver successfully. We have validated that the entire content has been migrated. Return on investment has been proved in terms of our ongoing DfE savings, having moved from Echo Meridio."

- Philip Humphries

Head of Knowledge & Information
UK Department for Education