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Paperless Office in Perspective
A Document Management System for Today
WHITE PAPER JUNE 2009
Paperless Office in Perspective A Document Management System for Today
BY T ODD MC I NDOO SPEEDY SOLUTIONS
The information contained in this document represents the current view of Speedy Scan Company Inc. (“Speedy Solutions”) on the issues presented as of the date of publication. Speedy Solutions endeavors to ensure that the information in this document is correct and fairly stated but, cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented. This White Paper is for informational purposes only. SPEEDY SOLUTIONS MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY, AS TO THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT. Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written permission of Speedy Solutions . Speedy Solutions may have patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights covering subject matter in this document. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from Speedy Solutions, the furnishing of this document does not give you any license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property.
Paperless Office in Perspective – A Document Management System for Today
In 1975 Business Week magazine published an article introducing businesses to the concept of paperless office. Since that time big business has instituted successful strategies to reduce the amount of paper in their respected organizations. But for reasons to be explained small and mid-size businesses have been slow to adopt the same strategies. Why has big business moved away from the theoretical single “concept” of paperless office and moved on towards several successful different “approaches” to a paperless office? They‟ve put their focus mainly on replacing inefficient paper oriented business processes with more efficient processes. What helped them move to an approach to a paperless office and how can small and midsize businesses adopt similar strategies to keep up in such a demanding business marketplace? The Paperless Office, the concept first introduced in a Business Week article in 1975 in an interview with the head of the Xerox Research facility, Mr. George Pake. Excerpts are contained below and cite how spectacular Mr. Pake was in regard to accurately predicting the future of this market. In 1975 before the advent of the personal computer, the internet, desktop document scanners and MFPs Pake could only be presenting his “concept” of what the paperless office may look like. In using the term paperless office Pake believed that all paper processes could be replaced solely by computers (desktops) to handle all transactional business activities.
The concept of paperless office how it all started!
In 1975 the head of the Xerox Research and Development office George E. Pake coined the phrase “paperless office”, in an article for Business Week Magazine. It first appeared in an Executive Briefing June 30, 1975 copyright McGraw Hill Business Week Magazine.
Here are some excerpts from that article, statements by Mr. Pake “At least this is the gospel being preached by office equipment makers and the research community. And because the labor-intensive office desperately needs the help of technology, nearly every company with large offices are trying to determine how this onrushing wave of new hardware and procedures can help to improve its office productivity” “Pake says that in 1995 his office will be completely different; there will be a TV-display terminal with keyboard sitting on his desk. “I‟ll be able to call up documents from my files on the screen, or by pressing a button,” he says. “I can get my mail or any messages. I don‟t know how much hard copy [printed paper] I‟ll want in this world.” The Paperless Office “Some believe that the paperless office is not that far off. Vincent E. Giuliano of Arthur D. Little, Inc., figures that the use of paper in business for records and correspondence should be declining by 1980, “and by 1990, most record-handling will be electronic.”
„The long-anticipated battle between the two giants will occur in this market. And it could be difficult for either of them to control the pace of change. “IBM and Xerox are jockeying for position now, and the battleground is the office,” Timothy C. Cronin, president of Inforex, Inc., an office-equipment supplier declares. “How they plan to attack will unfold over the next two years, and it will be one of the most significant factors shaping the office of the future.” Although random I couldn‟t help myself but to put in this quote because a funny aside is just one year after the publication of this article a drop out from college called Bill Gates forms a company called Microsoft. Below Mr. Pake explains how to implement a paperless office using technology and focusing on business processes. Mr. Pake further states “And because the labor-intensive office desperately needs the help of technology, nearly every company with large offices is trying to determine how this onrushing wave of new hardware and procedures can help to improve its office productivity” This statement is immensely important. Let us remember this because I will refer back to it later. It is as timely today as it was in 1975. Office staff is overwhelmed with work and information. The only way to become more efficient is through the effective use of new technology advantages. Putting Mr. Pake’s comments into context then and now. It is actually quite remarkable how far Mr. Pake could see into the future and how accurate he was. However, when being interviewed, one must take into consideration that he was representing the Xerox Corporation. Mr. Pake may have wanted to “Wow” his readers with bold statements promoting the advanced technology research that was going on at Xerox at the time of the interview. This concept of paperless office was just that, a concept. 1975 is not that far removed from the era of world fairs when numerous dramatic technological advances would be displayed to the masses. At this time in history when correlated with the technology market most new advents were meant mainly to “Wow.” In addition Xerox at the time was a world leader in Technology; Mr. Pake would want to portray Xerox as the clear technological leader specifically related to office technologies, the company‟s main focus. Clearly Mr. Pake‟s comments were not tempered he instead illustrated a Jetson like world where no paper would exist only on TV like terminals. His statements also did not focus on what processes will replace paper or how offices will adopt these changes. The concepts he suggested although bold lacked serious textual evidence or plans to actually make the change occur. Because Mr. Pake was speaking in 1975 and this article had presented his ideas of what the office of the future may look like, it would be agreed that Mr. Pake was presenting a concept. The concept he was presenting was that of the “paperless office”, this was an outline from Mr. Pake of what the office of the future could look like. For small and midsize businesses this is where the game of catch-up seemed to begin.
What is a CONCEPT?
Every great business idea begins as a concept; these ideas come very quick and are usually unframed and broad. A popular example of a concept could be an idea for new line of business; Einstein first had a concept for the theory of relativity. As quickly as a concept comes, it can quickly fade away. If a concept is going to come to fruition it can only come about with all the required hard work that we all can understand. Even so, many concepts once developed are not identical to the original concept. The original concept is usually altered and adjusted along the way with trials, errors and education. Below is the definition of CONCEPT from Dictionary.com Concept 1. A general notion or idea; conception. 2. An idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars; a construct. 3. A directly conceived or intuited object of thought. A concept is typically associated with a corresponding representation in a language or symbology, such as a word. By Dictionary.com Unabridged based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.
The concept of “paperless office” is where the problem began for small and midsize business. In 1975 Mr. Pake first floated the concept of “paperless office” and immediately it took on a humorous bend. In 1975 the Media picked up the story (what was more paper based than media and writers) and mocked the concept from the start. How could an office be “paperless” that was ridiculous, it could never happen. They presented the “concept” as an absolute one, either the office was going to have paper or it was not, there was no middle ground. This is how the masses thought of paperless office and this same concept is how some small and mid size business are still thinking about paperless office, even into this present day. But not everyone thought of paperless office in absolutes or extreme terms, nor continued to think of paperless office as a “concept”. Immediately starting in the early 1980s big business took bits and pieces of Mr. Pake‟s interview and understood what the point was. The main theme that they derived from this article was how to improve business processes through the use of technology. Conversely they would adopt technology only if it could provide a return on investment and improve the business processes. Big business quickly adopted this “approach” to paperless office. They understood the concept of paperless office was just that, a concept, a quickly developed new idea based on Mr. Pake's interpretation of the research Xerox was doing. Instead of working with the “concept” of paperless office they instituted a very business oriented approach to paperless office to ferret out outdated costly business processes. What is an APPROACH?
An approach is generally a long term process with systemized step by step procedures to a perceived end. I have a “concept” to lose weight, but my “approach” to losing weight is to run 3 times a week, lift weights 2 times and stop eating desert. This approach will lead to the end result of losing the weight I desire.
Approach 1. To begin work on; set about: to approach a problem By Dictionary.com Unabridged based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.
The Approach to Paperless Office
Shortly after Mr. Pake‟s article Big business began to adopt an approach to paper intensive business processes. New technology was also emerging at the same time, (advanced computer infrastructures, document scanners and desktop computers) with the proper use of these technologies and others they began to improve their business processes and reduce costs across their organization. These are approaches to paperless office where all is strictly based on efficiency and cost reduction. For example call centers are almost all completely computer based. Other paper intensive processes such as incoming mail is generally captured in centralized scanning centers and digitized and moved immediately into a shared computer environment. When you call Chase Bank requesting information on your account they do not get up from their desk and go to a paper file cabinet, instead all your documents are stored, cataloged indexed and driven by databases and technology. This efficiency is what these businesses‟s originally wanted out of a “paperless” office.
So how did small and midsize business miss the “paperless office” boat?
All types of technology vendors, hardware, software and technology consultants have for years been selling the “concept” of paperless office to business instead of selling the technology that actually solves their specific business problems. By misappropriating the term paperless office and rolling into it other terms such as document management and enterprise content management the term has become diluted and confusing. Irregardless, businesses have continued to be sold on concepts instead of actual approaches to reduce paper at their organization. The driver for reducing paper at the organization should be for either cost saving or productivity reasons. What large business would adopt technology because it is cool or advanced? Sometimes I think how quickly a meeting would be with some document management vendors at a fortune 500 company. The meeting would start with the vendor trying to sell them on their “concepts” of paperless office and the “magical” technology that will effortlessly manage their documents for them. The meetings would last all of about 10 minutes before the vendor was shown the door. The term paperless office has been misused, diluted and therefore its value diminished. Here are some miss- uses of the term paperless office found on the web “A personal scanner on your desk can create a successful paperless office. You want the user/office personnel to be able to scan the document ...” “..Using your MFP to create the Paperless Office…..” “..Document Management Software and Paperless Office Software can help your organization run more efficiently. ...” “A scanner and OCR software are the key components of a “paperless office”.
Lets again return to Mr. Pake‟s timeless”paperless office” –
Mr. Pake further states… “And because the labor-intensive office desperately needs the help of technology, nearly every company with large offices is trying to determine how this onrushing wave of new hardware and procedures can help to improve its office productivity”
So as businesses let us move away from the concept of paperless office to instead creating effective approaches to paperless office. First understand that you already have done it in the past, let this empower you. The following technologies have not been sold under the term “paperless” but clearly are “paperless” office technologies. 1. Quick Books replacing ledger type written accounting systems 2. ACT and Outlook replacing the rolodex and other forms of written contact management 3. Document Scanners (especially the Fujitsu Scan Snap) proliferating the use of document scanners to convert paper records to Adobe PDF. 4. Use of Adobe PDF as a standard document type 5. Standard transfer of documents via email electronically 6. Computer based faxing solutions All of the above are paperless office technologies; these technologies replaced paper intensive business process with more efficient computer based processes. These paperless office technologies were adopted by small business and mid size business and improved their business process, reduced costs and made the organization more efficient.
A common mistake of business is they wait too long to adopt cost saving technology – Do not wait Paperless Office makes Economic Sense Right Now
I agree if you waited until now you have had justified reasons not to consider paperless office strategies. The enormous cost and the technology were prohibitive in the 70's and 80's. Even in the 90s only large corporations with both the financial and people resources to implement paperless office concepts could take economic advantage of such an investment. Within the last 5 years though hardware and software costs have been reduced such that it is now viable for any small and medium size business to make the investments in paperless office and achieve immediate returns, as with all technology, the price performance of hardware and the availability of viable cost effective software solutions have come down dramatically and it now makes paperless office a real possibility for any small to mid-size business. Staying paper based is just bad business, ineffective and costly, a Coopers and Lybrand studies shows a average office Makes 19 copies of each document Loses 1 out of 20 office documents 1 file cabinet costs $25,000 to fill and $2,000 to maintain Handling paper documents consumes 90% of the typical office tasks Companies Spend o $20 on labor to file one document o $120 on labor to search for a lost document o $250 on labor to recreate a lost document Workgroups lose 15% of all documents they handle
Workgroups spend 30% of their time trying to find lost documents
So what are you waiting for prices to drop further? The technology to get better? – In my opinion it is not going to happen – it has all arrived and this is the best it will get barring minor improvements around user experiences. For example for just $400, the Fujitsu Scan Snap Scanner, this scanner has feature sets that are better than scanners which cost $15,000 in 2001. From a software side Microsoft in 2003 allowed software companies to build applications on top of their SQL Server Database Technology. This was a dramatic move, before that the database field was controlled by Oracle and SAP and if you do not understand their pricing structures it could be simply stated they are not focusing in on small business. So to consider paperless office and begin adopting these strategies your company is not going to be a pioneer, in a way sorry to say you are a laggard and must speed up your approach. Begin to adopt these strategies or become overcome by your competition who has already instituted more efficient and better business processes. In an article ran some years ago showed that a Citibank paper transaction cost just over $1.00 the same transaction done electronically (paperless) cost just $0.07. It costs today about $.50 to mail a letter. There is no reason why your mailing costs can‟t be dramatically reduced or completely eliminated if you approach it correctly, with a paperless office strategy.
How to adopt a successful approach to “paperless office” and the business process changes that come with it?
Before you start to outline an overall approach to your organizations paperless office there are some steps you should take in preparation.
Do you really understand the business process you want to replace?
Maybe someone comes to you with a concept to better improve a certain business process at the company. “It would really be great if we could store these work orders as PDF‟s and then have access to them by a simple keyword”. Before you go out seeking technologies to improve the process first understand what the current process is now, here are some questions you can ask. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Where do the documents originate from? Who handles them? Who has access to them? How are they currently filed away? Who needs them once they have been filed away? Why do they need them? How do they search for them? How many times or documents do they search for in a certain time frame? How long do we have to keep these documents? Where do these documents go now after they are removed from the file cabinet?
These are just sample questions and will change with every organization or with every different set of documents. The point is the person in charge of the project has to understand what business processes this solution will replace. It will also make the implementation of the solution easier if it has been thought out. SPEEDY ORGANIZER
Just the idea of a paperless office is not enough you need to take action and actual steps in order to make it happen.
Watch out for the killer!
Staff is overwhelmed with work duties and responsibilities. Even though management understands and will champion changes to business processes. The actual workers who have to work with the new “paperless office” strategies may just see it as another task. They may be very resistant to change, not be comfortable with technology (and will not tell anyone) or just not want to do another task. It must be clear to all the involved parties that this process will be incremental and that you will be starting with just a very small set of documents. The workload will not be that intense and it will actually ultimately save time as opposed to taking more time. The actual worker may or may not believe you, but you will need them on your side to really make the changes that you need to make. A common misconception of implementing a “paperless office project”, is that it requires a large workload to implement, this is false.
IT Staff – This solution is too simple
You need to be able to explain to your IT staff or outside consultant what problem you are looking to solve. Otherwise if you just give them basic terms such as we want to make our office paperless, they may embark on this grand project. They will just go out to Google and start interviewing all these different vendors. I can assure you there is no technology consultant that can easily within a reasonable time frame sift through all the different vendors and offerings. If you have really thought out the process and have determined what it is you need it will be much easier to find and evaluate it. Simple and easy to use solutions are good and should not be shied away from. You want to get a solution that is simple to use yet powerful in the back end.
Become a champion of the solution
What is better to bring about change than a champion? If you truly understand the benefit a good “paperless office” approach will bring to your organization become the champion of it. Tell others how it improved your business processes how costs have been reduced how it is just a lot easier to find critical documents. As the person who initiated and successfully implemented a great business process change you can assist others at the organization.
Paperless Office – Document Management start with an Approach
Let us go back one more time to Big Business do you think for a moment the CEO would come in one day and advise the company employees – on such a such date we are going paperless. Wouldn‟t that be ridiculous, disruptive and ultimately hurt the organization? So first do not think of “paperless office” as a concept. Instead look at your business processes and see what technology could be adopted to improve those processes. To begin with it could even be around just one particular document.
Apply changes incrementally
Focus on the business processes and once you fully understand where document pain is, go out and find a solution to solve it. Think incrementally you probably started looking for a document scanning or document management solution because you had begun to look for a more efficient way to handle a SPEEDY ORGANIZER
specific set of documents. But after speaking with different vendors or others at your organization the “project” has now taken on this tremendous scope. You first started out to improve one business process now others have moved the project to making the whole organization paperless, with workflow, document retention and email archive solution. Sounds complicated right? Well it sounds complicated because it is complicated. This type of solution could take years to implement, require massive man-hours and it may or may not be successfully implemented. As anyone who has instituted enterprise level software it is extremely complicated very costly and may or may not work. Many extremely expensive document management solutions are purchased and are then found to be too cumbersome and ultimately get scrapped. (See vendors selling concepts not solutions) Not a good idea for someone to introduce an expensive solution that never gets used in this current environment. To recap, first stay with your original idea and the original scope, then go incrementally and temper the project.
Once that is successful stage another war
You have now implemented an easy to use document management solution that is powerful; your organization has already received a return on its investment. Your business processes have been improved – it is time to move on to your next area. Once your organization has adopted and use a “paperless office” approach to one set of documents, going to the next set will be very simple. You will not have to train any one on a scanner or digital copier because they would know how to use them. Your document management solution will already be in use so the users who know how to use the solution can train others. So for newer sets of documents your entry into new areas will have a reduced cost and quicker adoption.
Paperless Office the Approach
So how can business change the way they think of paperless office. Do not just those think about paperless office – make it a strategy and then develop an approach to paperless office at your organization. The immediate focus for paperless office should be to provide access to business documents that are critical to your organization. Start first by not becoming grandiose in your approach to paperless office, take baby steps – buy desktop scanners to become familiar with how they work and how they can quickly benefit your organization. Next obtain a simple to use document management software product – one that can store and retrieve documents via simple keywords. Your first run at paperless office could be around one specific document such as accounts payable or a work order or client files. I do not have to tell you about your business you understand where the pain currently is go there first – get an immediate return on your investment. I want them to look critically at the current business processes around incoming and outgoing paper documents. How much do these processes cost? What are the steps in the processes? Can these processes be improved to reduce costs? What technologies can be applied to this specific problem and which will be both cost efficient and provide a healthy return on the investment.
1. “The Office of the Future An in-depth analysis of how word processing will reshape the corporate office” This article originally appeared in the June 30, 1975, issue of BusinessWeek. 2. By Dictionary.com Unabridged based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009. 3. Coopers and Lybrand Study