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Co-op opts for digital mailroom

29 June 2011

As part of its move to its new head office, The Co-operative is transforming the way it handles incoming and outgoing mail, document management and archiving.

To deliver the new service, The Co-operative has signed a five-year contract with Swiss Post Solutions Limited (SPS) worth more than £5 million. Central to the contract will be the digitising of all incoming mail and progressively digitising large stores of archived paper files. The project will provide The Co-operative Group with more efficient document processing by deploying state-of-the art technology from SPS and will deliver significant operational benefits and cost savings by altering the way information is processed within the business.

The services will initially be provided across The Co-operative Group's head office estate in Manchester before a gradual re-location to SPS's Document Processing Centre at Salford Quays, beginning later this year. Under the contract SPS will be processing two million items of external and internal mail per annum. The mail once digitised will be delivered electronically via SPS's hosted platform to up to 3,500 client users, across all business units within The Co-operative Group.

"Information needs to be accessible by the right people at the right time in order to make the best business decisions. Centralised processing and digitisation will improve our operational efficiency and will facilitate the introduction of flexible working practices across the business ahead of the re-location to the new head office. We selected SPS to deliver this critical service due to their track record in managing both analogue and digital services, and their ability to manage the digital transformation of business processes,” said Kevin Foley, Resource & Planning Manager, The Co-operative Group.

Existing archived files will be converted to electronic format, saving on space and in turn cost and allowing employees much faster and easier access to information. A reduction in the use of paper has considerable operational benefits for The Co-operative Group but it is also consistent with the Group's focus on sustainability.

The current head office buildings' working practices are often paper-based with considerable space being used for the storage of these documents. The transformation project is designed to facilitate smarter and more flexible working practices, and equally importantly, a less paper-reliant office environment ahead of The Co-operative Group's move to its new eco-built head office in Manchester in 2012. The office will be one of the most sustainable commercial buildings in Europe.

Foley continued: "Our organisation has traditionally had a significant reliance upon paper-based processes, resulting in large volumes of paper entering, circulating around and being stored within our buildings. Very early on in the design process for the new head office building, we recognised a fantastic opportunity to address this legacy issue and to introduce a more sustainable and scalable solution for the future. By utilising market leading technologies and exploiting the expertise of SPS, we have targeted ourselves with an 80% reduction in paper storage which will ensure the optimum utilisation of space within the new building, improved workflow opportunities and reduced duplication, whilst clearly supporting our commitment to the environment.”

The award of this contract reinforces SPS's position as one of the international market leaders for digital mailroom and document processing services. SPS brings added value in the form of knowledge, experience, an easy-to-deploy platform and bespoke services that have helped clients with cross-border and business unit digital transformation. SPS has successfully delivered digital transformation projects for a diverse range of industry sectors, including retail, financial services, and media.

Jonathan King, CEO of Swiss Post Solutions UK & Ireland, welcomed the opportunity to be working with The Co-operative Group: 'We have established an excellent track record in managing digital transformation projects of this nature and size, and look forward to delivering to The Co-operative Group a market leading service in document lifecycle management by handling physical and digital documents in a truly integrated process.'

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