A Goldilocks Approach to Going Paperless

2/24/2014 in Records Management
People dream about going paperless, but they are stuck with mounds of paper.  A “go paperless” goal really isn’t good enough.  It is sort of measurable, but it is probably too big to achieve in one jump. It’s time to take a Goldilocks approach to selecting the right project to tackle – not too big, not too small, just right. At Archive Systems, we call it an “unified solution.” You need a technology platform built for your world, the real world, where you live with paper documents at the very same time, and in the same process flow, as your emerging digital solution.
Here are five key characteristics of an unified solution:
  1. A document is a document, regardless if it is paper or digital.  If you are designing a solution to replace a paper process, then you are bound to have existing paper documents.  You first step will be to image some or all of those pieces of paper into digital images, and then evolve to what we call “born digital” documents.  The platform you choose has to adapt to the media, not the other way around.  
  2. A policy is a policy, regardless of the media of the documents it covers.  All too frequently we lose sight of the importance of information governance during a switch from paper to digital.  Corporate records have to be treated with respect and managed according to your company’s retention and disposition practices and policies.  
  3. Cost matters, and getting to an ROI is important.  Big bang revolutionary solutions tend to blow a hole in the corporate wallet.  A typical starting place is to look at the file room filled with paper documents and simply say “image everything.”  The price tag is enormous, so the pendulum swings to the opposite side – “forget all that old stuff, let’s just start fresh from this day forward.” 
  4. The new system has to play nicely in the neighborhood.  You already have a bunch of information systems in place.  The decision to move a business process to less paper has to be made in the context of the existing systems.  The platform you choose for your transformation project has to adapt to the existing environment, and has to continue to adapt as systems evolve and processes change.  
  5. To get rid of paper, you really have to get rid of it.  Many of the pieces of paper that end up in files are in fact printouts from some other system. Unfortunately, a typical path is to create a document in a word processor, turn it into a PDF form, print it out, have people fill in the form on paper, then scan them into images, email the images to the person that keeps the records, where they are printed out on paper and put into file folders.  This is exactly what we want to get rid of.  
For more information on Unified Document Management and the Goldilocks approach to document management, check out Archive Systems’ CEO, Gordon Rapkin’s webinar, “Goldilocks approach to adapting your paper document processes to go digital.”

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