Archive for the ‘Paperless Office’ Category
For many start-up companies, the biggest setback remains the cost of paper since paperwork is very important in the any organization. There is however, increasing focus on reducing the paper load in most offices with an ultimate aim of going paperless. The controversy however is on the actual target which can either be paperless or less paper. A paperless office involves deploying a complete technological changeover to a company while paper-less simply implies using phases to reduce the amount of paper being used. It is crucial therefore for concerned people to actually get a few pointers as to properly planning out their solution.
Most business people will want to start by eliminating their congested file rooms and turning a new leaf with document management systems. The problem here is that there is no easy way to make the file room disappear in a snap. For one, an attempt to back-scan all files may weigh heavily on the company in terms of cost and manpower and may all the same be impossible. It is highly recommended that the business tones down its anticipation and gets to formulate an achievable strategy. For a large file rooms to turn digital, it may require time and that is why a ‘slow death’ approach is favorable where new records are entered digitally and the old ones converted progressively.
Another scenario that may be tricky is in document scanning where people have options of either up-front or deferred scanning. The former is straightforward scanning of projects as they arrive and the changes made to it are updated directly. With deferred scanning however there may be difficulty updating records when the changes regarding a particular project are added separately leading to a disconnect in the digital process.
Another crucial fact that should be highly upheld is the matter of protecting privacy and at the same time making documents available to clients. For most document management systems there has to be seamless integration of security and sharing of relevant information with clients. This can be a big challenge and that is why the trend is towards avoiding third party web storage, external devices and separate e-mailing of sensitive documents. This is also advocated for by legislation on privacy and outlines why these systems should look into portals for easier client access of documents. These portals also make it easy for the company to share information by selecting files that are within the application.
For any company therefore considering cutting on paper, it may be highly unrealistic considering that every firm will in some way generate paper. The changeover to less paper also poses a significant hurdle to any firm but it is mostly simple practice. This is evidenced by the numerous benefits that can be reaped once the initial hurdle of phasing out old file rooms is overcome. More so, this is a benefit for both the client in terms of transparency and efficiency and the company through reduced costs and improved production. Implementing a document management system may thus be an essential part of transforming into an office with less paper.
Businesses today depend on software for a myriad of processes and that enable them to meet their objectives. This is a good thing, because software automates many processes that would take personnel a long time to compete, but in itself, the reliance on software alone is not the end solution. Business must still keep the software updated to take advantage of new features as well as avoid errors and eliminate mistakes.
Over the years, various software accidents caused huge financial losses when compromised by criminals, or they just become overwhelmed with their present usage such that they developed errors in their configuration. As business continue to embrace paperless office, it is becoming more crucial to choose annual software assurance plans to keep your software up to date. Such a plan insures your business against calamity in the following ways.
First, when you get a software assurance plan, you will be able to enhance the efficiency of your present software because the plan guarantees you 100 percent up-time. Your business will process more orders, and handle all the necessary documentation without risking software failure that may cause data integrity issues and unauthorized access to privileged information.
The plan also gives you access to regular updates. In some cases, vendors will allow you to upgrade to a newer version of the given software as long as you hold a valid license of the present one. In most arrangements, you only pay for the difference in price, and this implies that if the newer version is cheaper than your present one, then you get it free.
In the end, this arrangement saves your business a lot of money, where you only spend marginally on the subscription cost of the software assurance plan, and the marginal cost of upgrades. The package comes with a maintenance service option that lets you receive the same from the software vendor at not additional cost.
Since you will be relying on the software company for any maintenance and upgrading, you reduce your risks of incompatibility, and the introduction of malicious code that may tamper with the proper functioning of your office processes.
Increased ease of use
Subsequent software versions tend to reflect the growing concerns and preferences of the user base. They are easier to use, and a come with an array of additional functionality features. The same is also true for upgrades made to basic models. The only way to improve the workflow of your office without investing money in staff retraining is to go for the appropriate software solution that offers intuitive user interfaces as well as easy to understand and customize procedural options.
When you purchase software, you will get these benefits but over time they become obsolete and you can either spend a fortune on another similar investment or tweak the present one to reflect the growing needs. Tweaking is possible when you are under a software assurance plan that ensures your paperless office solutions can handle the critical tasks that you intended the software to do.
Document storage is one issue that both small and large organizations have in common, and with the emergence of latest technology, now many of them are interested in a paperless office, because this makes them more efficient, and also helps in reducing their operational cost. This is the reason why many companies have started using document management system to deal with all office issues. It is a computer based document management system that makes all the difference.
Most of the electronic document retrieval systems have built in feature that helps companies in managing their workflow process smoothly. They will be able to streamline their entire routine to ensure its smooth operation. The automated workflow processing of all vital documents also ensures that only right documents are right employees.
Let’s have a close look at some benefits of electronic document management system (EDMS):
* Less need of space for papers-Commercial space is expensive, and documents can just keep piling up with time. Think of al the money you spend on paper and huge cabinets to store them. You must also consider the commercial space you use to store them. This space can be used to install some equipment or to house more employees.
The implementation of electronic document management system removes all physical issues of managing the documents. In one stroke, you can remove rows and rows of cabinets, and hours spent in managing and retrieving the documents.
* Faster retrieval of documents-The electronic document management system ensures faster retrieval and storage of documents and other important files. All the company files, data, and information is stored in a central database, and is loaded onto the server, and is accessible to all departments and branch offices through network. Therefore, any employee with necessary access rights can retrieve the documents within seconds. Interdepartmental exchange of information is fast and more convenient.
* Savings on time and money-All important documents in a company are centralized using document management system. This makes it easy for employees to locate, retrieve, and edit them. Manual retrieval can take hours, and there is danger of documents getting in wrong hands. This is not so with document management software as only authorized people will be allowed to access the information.
An electronic document management system also means that companies can also comply with rules and regulations easily due to the faster movement of files. The amount of indexing, security control, archiving and audit trails make it easy for companies to comply with various regulatory measures.
Lost files can be a pain, especially if they are important for the operations of a company. All those who use electronic document management system would never suffer from this problem as all vital documents will be there on central database with backup.
* Cost reduction- Lastly, with electronic document management system, there is considerable reduction in the operational cost to the company as it helps companies in getting a clutter free paperless office. As files are now in electronic form, there won’t be any need for spending too much money on paper, toners or printers as there will be less need for printing documents.
Currently a paperless working environment is top priority for most companies and enterprises. Having documents organized in a digital file brings efficiency in the office which translates to improved profits and motivated employees. However, you still go through hassles if you scanned your documents and stored them on different computers; your departments would find them hard to share and not to forget inconveniencing loss of data is someone unknowingly deleted a document. Open source document management software solves these problems by providing an easier way to store, retrieve and share documents in any organization irrespective of its size and number of departments. Below are some of the benefits you gain after acquiring such software.
Easy search options
Consider a law firm, a real estate firm or any other firm which has thousands of scanned documents on a server and needs to access a particular document in an emergency. With conventional search options, it would take a lot of time to find it which would in turn leave your employees exhausted and unmotivated. However, with document management software, it would only take minutes owing to its fast search options. Documents are stored in a certain criteria which makes easier to retrieve them when need be.
Manage sharing and distribution of files
You realize that in a conventional system, everyone has access to documents as long as they have the password to organizations server. However, it is possible to restrict access to certain groups of people if you installed special software which manages your document. It is also easier to share the documents between departments on request or through group permissions.
Security and recovery features
Digitally stored information is easier to recover compare to paper documents in the case of a fire or other disasters. The software allows you to make back ups on your documents which are updated automatically whenever you add or delete information. You also realize that it would be easier to secure digitally stored information from authorized access or theft in comparison to paper documents.
Save on money and time
The one major reason why document management software was developed was to increase efficiency in business environments. It helps you save time by reducing storage, sorting and retrieval tasks. Consequently you do not need to hire many employees which in effect, reduce the money you spend on salary. Overall reduction of human error helps you save money by avoiding redundancy and loss of data.
Compliance with quality standards
If you want to get certified by ISO and other standard evaluation organizations, you must prove your capabilities in offering state of the art services. A file management system portrays your organization as one which cares about data security and with good organization systems. Remember, these are the factors that most standard organizations consider before awarding compliance certificates to companies and business organizations.
Open source document management software is free and available for download on the internet. There are several of them although you need to select one with a user friendly interface. Consider reading product descriptions and reviews before acquiring one.
In traditional model of an office structure, organizations generally allocate material, human and technology for taking care of the documents of the organization or the office. Most of these resources are tied down on tasks to deploy, configure, maintain and upgrade the documents of the organization, which usually does not provide much added value in the output. The idea of a paperless office has always been an attractive one and has drawn many business owners towards implementing it in their businesses. In the recent times, Cloud Computing has made many businessmen realize the idea of a paperless office. Cloud computing is a paradigm that provides computing services via the Internet.
Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of letting your business documents operate on the Cloud:
1. Little or no provisioning costs.
It is the most attractive advantage presented by cloud computing, and if not the most attractive at least the most obvious advantage of this technology. By leaving the responsibility of document viewing on the document viewing platform provided by the infrastructure provider, the client does not have to worry about buying computer equipment, training personnel for the setup and maintenance of the server.
With the business documents being on the cloud, the supplier is obliged to ensure that the service is always available to the client. Hence this translates into the documents being always accessible to the client.
3. Access from any location.
Applications designed on the paradigm of cloud computing can be accessed from any computer equipment in the world that is connected to the Internet. Access is usually done through a web browser, which enables the application to be used not only from a desktop computer or a laptop but goes even beyond, allowing the user to use the application even from mobile devices such as smartphones.
As a result of the aforementioned advantages, the business owner can focus more on other aspects of business requirements that have a direct impact on the business processes rather than managing piles of files and cupboards full of old records.
One major drawback generated by this technology is of data insecurity. With your business documents being on the cloud, small loophole or a technical glitch can result in big disasters like the confidential information and trade secrets being revealed to competitors.
While it is true that the availability is an advantage, it remains solely so till the time the service provider maintains the system properly. In the event of a system failure, all your documents go unavailable till the time system is restored.
3. Lack of control over resources.
By having all the infrastructure and even the documents on the servers located in the cloud, the client completely lacks control over resources and even on his own information once it is uploaded to the cloud.
In a solution based on cloud computing, the client becomes dependent not only on the service provider, but also on the internet connection because the user must be permanently connected to the internet to access that is in the cloud.
It might not always be easy to upload and access all your documents on the cloud. One must do a thorough study of the feasibility of such a venture being undertaken before going for it.
It is anybody’s guess that if used with caution and care, business documents of cloud can actually make a paperless office an appealing business prospect. However, these pros and cons of doing so need to be kept in mind in order to be able to best utilize the service.
Documents are a major part of every business, and without them it would be impossible to keep track of transactions. Not long ago every office consisted of shelves and boxes full of files and folders with all kinds of documents. With the advancement in technology, document management software has provided a platform for a paperless office. All your documents are saved in a centralized system, with access allowed only to authorized parties.
Most businesses today have their documents in both soft and hard copies. Even with management software, it is not possible to transition overnight from paper offices. The shift is gradual, towards the electronic storage mode which is easier and more convenient. In the meantime, both types of documents have to be managed efficiently for the business to run smoothly. Developing a document management plan involves the following steps:
1) Set a standard: Related documents should be presented in a particular format. For instance, you can decide that all the monthly reports are to be created using Microsoft Excel. For all other documents such as receipts, spread sheets, payment notices and invoices, come up with an appropriate format or template for each one. Present these procedures to everybody in the office and explain the importance of maintaining the set standards.
2) Obtain soft copies: Hard copies can be damaged easily and consume a lot of space. To enhance the efficiency of your business, scan your documents and work with electronic copies. The papers can be retained as a backup but not for daily references. They can even be transferred to a separate room or the basement, so that the office has enough space. The electronic documents need a backup too. You can save some copies on a separate drive or online so that you are on the safe side even in the case of a system breakdown.
3) Establish a retrieval system: One of the major benefits of document management software is the ease of retrieval. Time, money and energy are lost whenever document retrieval is a lengthy process. In an efficient system, it is possible to search for a document by simply typing in the file name. In a manual system, all files and folders should be clearly labeled. You can simplify the process further by coming up with a file location list. Print and post it on various locations where staff members can locate it easily. The list specifies the location of various documents, whether in soft or hard copies.
By following these steps, you will have brought your business closer to a paperless office. Document loss, misplacement and damage will be a thing of the past. You will save money and space that is required to store all these documents. Sending and receiving information will be as fast as the click of a button. In the near future it will be rare to come across paper documents, as management software is quickly taking over. Prepare your business for the shift as you enjoy the convenience of properly managed documents.
Companies, large and small process many documents and valuable information in their daily operations. The loss of any of these documents means that a company or a business, whether major or minor, may suffer great loss of information especially at a critical moment. At times, keeping track of a mountain of paperwork in an office can be a great nuisance. Some time ago, many small businesses suffered from this effect due to lack of relevant software that would act as an alternative for information security.
With the advent, progressions and quick development of document management software in the market, this problem has greatly diminished. Today, there is tons of Open Source Document Management Software in the market. As opposed to the times when only Enterprise Companies could own them, small businesses have the ability to use Document Management Software for information security.
With open source management software, processing documents has become relatively easy. Manual documents processing has not only been tiring and time consuming. There are other additional drawback related to it such as occupying big space, boring to process information and the result was of poor quality. That notwithstanding, the use of DMS has come a long way to change this for good. Enterprise companies and mini businesses are able to process information faster, accurately and efficiently. In addition, it helps minimize on space by compressing files into a virtual system thus contributing to office tidiness.
Another reason why it is ideal to implement the use of DMS is its nature with employee relation. As content management software, it greatly assists to boost staff morale and put aside the boredom brought about by manual document processing.
Open Source Document Management Software:
- Helps to facilitate the circulation of information among different departments in an organization accurately, efficiently and very fast.
- Allows users full search and retrieval of their documents and files by meta-data, department, author, their names and comments. While doing document/file search, there is absolutely no external file indexing process required.
- The software provides the user with open knowledge.It is easy to access the forum of the software.It is easy to create custom document properties to be in line with the needs of your company or small business.DMS is convenient and user friendly. It gives one or the user the possibility of storing any types of documents. Additionally, it makes it easy for the user to retrieve needed information during critical moment and to cooperate with other team members via effective and accurate circulation of information in various departments in an organization. A person working as a document reviewer using this software has the ability to reject or approve a changed or a new document.
For open source document management software to work effectively, companies, organizations, even small businesses must comply with the system requirements. These requirements could include Apache Server or Internet Information Service, Automatic Installer and Updater, Hypertext Processor 5 (PHP5) or MySQL 5.
Efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery and high productivity has been the major concern for many businesses these days. Every effort is put in place to ensure that this is achieved. In respect of this, business leaders have developed several ways in which they can create an effective office operation. Emergence of paperless office environment has been adopted by modern businesses courtesy of advanced technology that is causing change in all areas. This article aims at helping the reader understand how offices are running without the use of papers.
Paperless office environment can be described as the workplace that does not rely on papers in its operations. It may be where the use of papers is avoided or reduced greatly. This is where the use of filing cabinet and other filing facilities is eliminated and replaced with automated documents imaging. All the office information is computerized and is retrieved whenever it is needed. This has brought about numerous merits in terms of efficient delivery of services as well as increasing productivity in an organization.
Automated documents imaging is common in modern office environment. This is where documents are scanned and stored automatically in electronic form. This allows easy retrieval and sharing of the information stored in different offices thus improves the way things are done. There are several advantages that accrue to the adoption of digital offices which are discussed later in this article.
Paperless workplace is economical compared to traditional offices where a lot of money is spent on papers. Once the automated documentation software is installed, all the relevant office information is stored in computers. When the same is needed, it is retrieved and can be updated or shared among individuals within the office. This eliminates the cost incurred in maintaining physical filing system and purchasing filing cabinets. This has been seen as cost reduction measures thus enhancing profitability of the business.
By adopting paperless working environment, the space is highly utilized. This is because the office will need the desk, seat and the computer system. The small office is able to handle volume of tasks with ease. The use of many files, cabinets, printers and papers is reduced if not eliminated totally. This spares a space thus making the office neat and tidy. This has had a positive impact on the productivity of the employees within the organization.
The tradition methods of storing documents may be risky and unsafe. Many cases have been reported where sensitive information is destroyed either by fire or any other disaster. By adopting automated documents imaging, documents are safely stored and protected by use of passwords and effective back up systems. This has greatly improved the level of service delivery in an organization.
Paperless office is eco friendly and enhances the preservation of clean and habitable environment. Proponents of green revolution have backed the campaign for all the businesses to adopt paperless offices.
Total elimination of paperwork may not be realized since there are some of the sectors that demand physical documentation. However, with the current economic hardship that faces businesses, the adoption of paperless office has been viewed as the solution to many challenges encountered before emergence of digital technology.
For companies that have thousands of documents and files, whether it is a doctors office, or any other business that deals with various customers, accounts, and internal document work, the use of document indexing software is the ideal option to go with. Not only will this save time for the employees and front office staff who manually index the documents, but it is also going to save money for the company if a top notch document indexing software package is chosen, due to the fact that employees can focus their attention on other tasks that have to get done each day.
In businesses where various documents are added to client files each day, or where new merchandise comes in and has to be filed in to a particular account, the use of document indexing software will automatically do the updating for your business. Where in the past an employee had to pull down the folder, get the client information, and manually input the new information and documents in to their file and account, if the company employs the right document indexing software, this is no longer going to be the case. As soon as the document is inputted in to the system, the software will do the work, and will automatically input the information in to a client account, or in to the information about a particular product type.
By cutting back on the manpower that was required to do this work in the past, when a business chooses the most reliable document indexing software, they can cut back on staff. This is going to save on the cost of employee pay, and it is going to make the office more efficient, as only the most productive workers are going to be on hand, and will be working on other projects which were pushed aside in the past. The daily tasks in the office will also go by much more uniformly when document indexing software is employed in to the day to day business structure. Since employees are going to know their role, they are going to be able to pay more attention to customers, offer better customer care, and perform other tasks that have to get done in the office each day, rather than have to worry about setting aside time to file documents at the end of each business day.
Not only can staff get cut, but time is also going to be saved when the top document indexing software is put in to use at any business infrastructure. Employees can do other important work, the work and documents will automatically update themselves, and the clients are going to find much better customer care and satisfaction, as workers can focus their time on dealing with other issues. So, rather than do it the old way, choosing the top document indexing software on the market is something all business structures should consider, in order to cut costs, save time, and make the entire office structure more streamlined in their daily tasks.
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the term ‘paperless office‘. Many believe that an office or work environment termed paperless will be literally devoid of any form of printed paper. Reality, though is somewhat different!
A paperless office should really be read as a less paper office. This term is more realistic in describing many offices and company’s today. People have been talking about achieving a paperless office since the 1970′s but in reality we are a long way from achieving the dream. Technology has developed at a fast rate and many innovations have reduced the need for everything to be recorded on paper but, as cutting edge as the new equipment is, it will never be able to completely eliminate the need for paper.
Not long ago everything had to be printed and stored in a hard copy. Now massive computer memories and new technology such as I-pads have reduced the need for printouts but many businesses will still eventually print a lot of information that they have stored on hard drives and the like. Despite the advantages in electronic storage many still need a tangible copy to refer to and many will often print out copies, ‘just in case.’
Paper use in business has dropped slightly for the last few years but there has also been an increase in the sales of household printer paper. Many companies will no longer print and forward an invoice, instead choosing to electronically invoice a customer in their attempt to move toward a paperless office only for the consumer to then print out the invoice for their own records.
In reality it will be nigh on impossible to achieve a completely paperless office. Recent studies completed by Hewlett-Packard have highlighted several reasons why paperless offices remain out of reach. Firstly, comprehension of information often results in documents being printed. Many find printed words on paper easier to understand than the same words on a monitor or screen. Secondly there will always be some ‘unenlightened’ staff members who refrain from using new technology to the height of its ability, again leading to more paper cluttering the office or workspace. Lastly, and on the same note, tradition will always hinder new beliefs. Many companies and businesses still feel better communicating with customers by using a traditional letter. Of course a copy of this letter needs to be kept and this is often achieved with a paper printed copy.
As more and more offices begin to see how using less paper may lead to reduced costs we will begin to see ‘less paper’ offices but it will be a long time before we see the two thousand year use of paper completely eliminated. Future generations who are more au fait with the use of electronic devices will grasp the benefits of hard drive mass storage but until the majority of people are enlightened offices will never be totally free of paper.
The move towards paperless offices is commendable but has yet to be achieved. Less paper offices are now the norm but it would be wrong to imagine a paperless office as a reality for now. In the near future, who knows?