Have you ever considered all the document centric functions of a Consular Division at Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
As an only authorize institute in the country to undertake document authentication process on behalf of Government of Sri Lanka, the Consular Division is the oldest and most document-intensive organization in the country. According to the Consular Division of Sri Lanka, the main mission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Consular Division is to maintain the integrity of the legislative process, provide administrative support to the process of document authentication, disseminate information concerning policy issues, and protect and preserve official records related documents.
The consular division services around 450 – 500 clients on a daily basis. The total number of documents authenticated per day is on an average count around 1,600. Most of the documents processed are related to certificates issued by the Registrar General’s Department and account for almost 45% of the daily workload. Educational certificates issued by the Examinations Department accounts for almost 20% of the daily work load which could increase at the time of university intake. The police certificates also accounts for approximately 15% of the workload, while a combination of documents account for the balance.
The documents authenticated by the Consular Division are used by foreign embassies in Sri Lanka when issuing visas to Sri Lankan citizens or when foreign institutions require documents from Sri Lankan individuals and institutions. Earlier the documents received for authentication are verified against a set of signatures maintained on the computers of the verification officers. However due to the inconvenience of accessing the signatures the verification officers tend to rely on their memory when authenticating the documents.
When signatures are not available, the relevant officer in the Document Issuing Authority (DIA) is contacted and the issuance of the document is verified. This verification may be undertaken by phone or fax, which is quite time consuming.
The average time to service a customer currently ranges between 2 – 3 hours and approximately 300 are accommodated in the waiting areas. The office of the Consular Division opens at 6:00 am daily to accommodate process of those who travel from distant areas to have their documents authenticated. The applications are issued from 7:30 am and the accepting of documents and verification starts at the usual business hours.
Beyond spending countless hours rummaging through file cabinets, the Consular Division needed to cut down on expensive paper costs and eliminate the misplacement of files. As servants to the community, they also wanted to become more transparent with the citizens of Sri Lanka, by increasing accessibility to public records on file. Due to the high volume of paper processed daily, the Consular Division desperately needed a solution that would take their paper-based processes digital and solve the following issues.
- Incompleteness of the signatures that are used for verification,
- The inconvenience of accessing the signature information,
- The long waiting time for the public.
With documents ranging from trading to education certificates, it was important to the Consular Division that their new digital process was as secure and efficient as possible. Luckily, EPIC Technology Group’s groundbreaking document management software is a secure means for digital document processing. DoxPro enterprise content management and workflow solution worked in conjunction to solve the paper-based problems of Consular Division. To start, DoxPro allows staff to easily and effectively capture and transform paper documents into usable information. As Applicant’s documents are scanned into the system, DoxPro automatically captures and classifies documents, enabling automatic data extraction.
With built-in advanced search capabilities, DoxPro allows the Consular division to easily locate and pull information as needed. Staff also found the Key Free Indexing function to be especially beneficial. This advanced feature allows employees to select data instead of manually entering the information, saving time and increasing accuracy. DoxPro also allows for documents to be authenticated from branch officers, providing a reliable service to staff.
Since the implementation of DoxPro Content management software, the Consular Division has seen considerable improvements in the amount of time spent chasing documents. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office estimates that paper use has decreased by and there has also been a considerable cut in Rupees spent on storage costs.
DoxPro have had such a positive impact on the Consular Division, that they are considering implementing the software throughout the entire divisional officers across the country. With these promising improvements, the Consular Division is also looking to expand the software’s functionality to include advanced document workflow features. As government documents often need to be processed and routed between many people across different departments, visual workflows will allow for employees to easily and seamlessly track the stage of each document, and all impending actions. DoxPro ensure the Consular Division remains ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and business efficiency.