Taming the Paper Tiger
Electronic document management can improve operating performance
Illustration by Ken Edmondson
Technologists have been promoting the vision and benefits of a paperless office since the advent of the PC some 30 years ago. Even those on the front lines of document-management applications, however, are only just now able to say that, while still not quite paperless, they’re getting there.
According to a 2009 AIIM research study (www.aiim.org/infonomics/still-playing-catchup-with-paper.aspx), the volume of paper records is still increasing steadily in 56 percent of organizations, but in 22 percent it’s at last showing signs of decreasing. Meanwhile, the volume of electronic records is increasing rapidly for 70 percent; it isn’t decreasing in any of these organizations.
The real “paper tiger” that information managers should fear, however, is document mismanagement. I define document mismanagement as allowing any information that has business- or operations-management value to be accessible only by retrieving a physical paper document. Beyond saving significant file and floor space, converting records from physical to electronic can boost operating performance.
Experience in the public and private sectors has convinced me that almost every organization can benefit from investing in electronic document management (EDM) technologies, if their information managers know how and where to hunt for the paper tiger. Creating, printing, distributing, storing and retrieving information locked within a paper document is an expensive part of business operations. On average, it costs $20 in labor to file a paper document, $120 to find a misfiled document and $220 to reproduce one that’s lost, according to several industry whitepapers. An EDM solution typically pays for itself within the first year of operation by eliminating paper, reducing archival costs, increasing productivity and improving customer service.
Additionally, a successful EDM solution often spawns more EDM and content-management initiatives. Given the proper guidance from you, the IT professional, these point-solution initiatives can create the foundation for an enterprise content-management solution. I’d like to share some other insights gained from more than 20 years’ experience applying EDM technologies.
Search our new 2013 Buyer's Guide.
Business Strategy | Active Energy Manager 4.2 integrates IT and infrastructure
Trends | Digital documentation could revolutionize IBM business and your shelves