Any organization more than twenty years old is likely to have modeled some, if not all, of its workflow approach around paper. Creating physical files for decades and relying on them as their official record doesn’t just go away with the advent of electronic document management. As technology progresses, more and more firms are relying on electronic documents, Yet some employees need or expect a physical files thus creating redundancy and finding themselves wasting resources duplicating efforts. Is it realistic to declare a “paperless office” and expect the paper to go away on its own? Where does it begin and where does it end?
Migrate any onsite and offsite file and box meta-date into a system that allows your company to manage the historical and future, active and inactive, files intelligently. Apply enough meta-data and categories to group and organize files and boxes differently by integrating with existing systems to better understand where these items originated and what the typical lifecycle might look like for that individual or group. Employ an automated rule based workflow to it in order to expose the organizations current and historical “file habits” such as a group’s file and box travel statistics in order to intelligently initiate the file review process based on that group’s business rules. Most importantly, all of this should be easily accessed and reviewed by a single dashboard because destruction is just one step in the entire disposition lifecycle. Even if an organization isn’t committed to formal retention and destruction, the approach should, at the very least, expose the habits in order to change them.
All organizations of any significant size need to formally track their files and boxes or end up wasting expensive real estate space dedicated to physical file storage. If they have a traditional barcoding system, at best they are using it to see what they have and where it is. If they don’t have a barcoding system, they need to think about getting one quickly because it is no longer about check and check out, send to a safe place where it is “out of site and out of mind”. It is about the money and effort organizations spend on onsite and offsite storage, with labor and with redundancy. It is about being able to report and review quickly the inventory of an organization’s or their client’s assets. The time and effort involved in locating everything you might need to produce if asked can be triple the effort if you have to pull triplicates of the same records in the process. The road to a less paper dependent office begins with exposing that paper and beginning to manage it using business intelligence.