Vital drive saves money - and trees

Vital drive saves money - and trees

YOU might imagine that staff at a department tasked with handling the Singapore Government's administrative services would be knee-deep in paperwork.

In fact, it is almost entirely a paper-free zone.

Operations at Vital have progressively gone paperless over the last few years, a change that has resulted in cost savings and more productive work systems.

And of course, trees have been conserved.

Formed in 2006, Vital is part of the Ministry of Finance and is responsible for the shared administrative services used by more than 80,000 civil servants in over 100 ministries, departments, organs of state and statutory boards.

Vital's suite of services include finance, human resource, payroll and claims and travel management services.

"Going green in the workplace has become more fashionable, with different groups of officers consciously looking out for ways to reduce the use of paper and, where possible, go paperless in order to make the back-of-house operations and processes more efficient," said Mr Clarence Ti, Vital's chief executive.

Work improvement teams looked at making processes between Vital and its client agencies more efficient.

One initiative involved implementing an electronic system to process payment requests used by the Ministry of Health. As part of this, all approvals for non-invoice payments were done through the new electronic system.

The result was a faster process, a more secure transfer of documents and potential savings of $143,000 over five years.

But Vital's efforts have gone beyond reinventing workflows and exploring new opportunities to reduce the use of paper.

The department has also carried out the collection and analysis of data.

One example is Vital's introduction of a managed print services network within its office network.

The managed service was able to collect data on the paper use across Vital's office, making it easier to identify ways of reducing paper wastage and output costs.

Staff could also use machines connected to the managed service network to scan and send documents instead of printing them.

The system was rolled out only recently but Vital estimates that it could reduce the volume of printouts per staff member by 5per cent over the next few years.

While improvements in turnaround time and productivity are often the most obvious benefits of such changes, Vital said that these initiatives encourage better employee engagement as well.

Vital also shines the spotlight on its staff's green efforts through its Go Green Movement, launched three months ago.

Officers within Vital who display efforts to conserve the environment are appointed Green Ambassadors. As part of the programme, these ambassadors share their environment-friendly tips, which often involve small changes in lifestyle habits such as using reusable utensils and turning off the office lights during lunchtime.

Ms Margareta Ee, Vital's head of human resource department, has this tip: "Tissue boxes come with nice designs and I use them to hold my files and books. Name card boxes are used to store my thumb drives and cables."

cherlim@sph.com.sg

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