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400 years – still innovating

17 July 17

Registers of Scotland’s celebrations to mark 400 years of the General Register of Sasines coincide with two developments to take the organisation into the future

by Registers of Scotland

Registers of Scotland is proud to be celebrating its 400th anniversary this month. For four centuries we have been the guardians of Scotland’s land registers and have played a unique role in relation to property transactions in Scotland. That’s 400 years of keeping the Sasine Register on behalf of the people of Scotland, and it also marks 400 years of gathering knowledge, expertise and insight into how best to support our partners, stakeholders and customers.

While the principles of land registration haven’t changed much in those 400 years, the way that we run our business has evolved and continues to do so. We are proud of our rich history and the part we have played in underpinning the Scottish economy. By no means though are we resting on our laurels. We are constantly working to find digital solutions to help our customers work more efficiently, and to serve the needs of our shared property market.

Special celebrations

Our anniversary celebrations had a number of quite distinct but inextricably linked aspects to them, and each knitted our rich history and 400 year legacy to our future – not only with our move into our new office space at St Vincent Plaza in Glasgow, but also with our onward journey into a digital future, which includes the rollout of innovations like our Digital Discharge Service and our groundbreaking Knowledge Base.

We held an exhibition in our Meadowbank House headquarters in Edinburgh acknowledging the role that our staff have played throughout our history, and the hand they continue to have in supporting our work, your work, and Scotland’s property market. The key message of that exhibition was that it is people who make RoS what it is. Without our staff we would not be able to underpin the Scottish economy and support our customers in the best way possible.

We also commissioned two separate art works to mark the occasion – one, a poem by the Scots makar, Jackie Kay, called “Sasine”, paying a unique tribute to the register of that name. The other is an art installation that represents a 400-year timeline and forms the land mass of Scotland. Etched onto the coloured, transparent plates are pages of the Sasine Register, which was officially dedicated to the people of Scotland by the Keeper, Sheenagh Adams, as a symbol of our ongoing commitment to preserve the registers of Scotland on their behalf and maintain the integrity of the registers into the future. It will remain homed in our atrium as a daily reminder that we are not the owners of the registers of Scotland, but their mere guardians on behalf of the people.

Glasgow office: a great leap forward

The final, key component of our celebrations, was the official opening of our new office space at St Vincent Plaza, where we were joined by the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown.

From the outset, our move to SVP has been an ambitious project for RoS. For facilities management, an office move is probably one of their most complex projects. Completing the process is an achievement in itself, but we went one step further when moving into SVP. The move has been a big success so far. We might only have moved a few streets, but SVP represents a whole new way of working for RoS.

RoS is adopting a new working environment model and taking a smart working digital approach to its business. That approach is designed not only to ensure RoS can continue to serve our customers and stakeholders as efficiently as possible, but also serves to foster a healthy and balanced working environment for our employees.

The move to SVP was designed to deliver both value for money and real change, taking RoS a step closer to achieving our goal of being an entirely digital business by 2020.

Knowledge Base, for lawyers

SVP provides a cutting edge setting that’s specifically designed to support digital and smart working principles as part of our digital transformation, and just one key element of that has been the development of our Knowledge Base website, – a resource tailor-made for the legal sector. It has been designed to ease access to the information that helps you to best serve your clients. Knowledge Base makes our guidance easier to use than ever and has been developed with the user at heart. The Knowledge Base is our new home for registration guidance and support content and it is task based, accessible and searchable. Importantly, it is also based on user testing and input.

The intention is that Knowledge Base will make life easier for the user. It contains a new site search, with suggested articles, synonyms and spelling error suggestions as well as improved readability and page layout.

We have replaced the difficult-to-access PDF format for guidance with HTML pages, and installed in-page navigation menus and labels to let you know when we update guidance.

Through workshops and meetings with internal and external colleagues, we were able to identify those who are using our guidance. We also found out how our information was being used and have made it as accessible as possible. Our research has informed the structure and style of the content, and it will help us to continually update and develop the Knowledge Base. We are working towards becoming a fully digital business by 2020, and the Knowledge Base is an important step on that journey, helping us to best support our customers.

Importantly, we have also included built-in feedback. This important resource wouldn’t have been possible without input of end-users, and that’s a learning we don’t want to lose. You can have your say across the entire site and we will use your feedback to continually make improvements.

This is just the latest step in our digital transformation. As we work towards our next anniversary, we will strive to improve the way that we support your work at every stage. Knowledge Base has been a modern and ambitious project and it is fitting that it has been developed as we approached the 400-year landmark of holding the world’s oldest land register. We began our journey as a modern and ambitious arm of government, and that’s how we mean to continue.

You can access the Knowledge Base here

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