Posts Tagged ‘Electronic Documents’
My Dad was 75 years old when we insisted he learn how to use a computer so we could communicate via email. Today, at 90 years old, he would be lost if he couldn’t send an email or check his accounts from the comfort of his home. My 20-something kids can’t fathom looking at a map or printing out a document, and I’m pretty sure none of them have ever actually seen a fax machine. As for me, I’m taken back when someone asks me to write a check (do they expire if you don’t use them for ten years?). I don’t want a paper receipt that I can lose. I complete applications online and execute contracts at 30,000 feet from my window seat, and most of us would be hard pressed to say we would prefer to go back to filing our taxes on paper forms. We can justify and embrace digital documents from home base, but why do we resist them and digital data imaging in the workplace?
Why are We Still Pushing Paper?
I work with hundreds of organizations that still push mounds of paper through their AP department. Resources are spent opening mail, routing paper, making copies, acquiring signatures, creating checks, and applying postage. You don’t have to be a CFO to know that our old comfortable processes are contrary to our objectives. So where is the logic? One contributing factor is likely job security, especially in today’s uncertain economy. It’s a fear unfounded and typically based in poor communication at a higher level. Getting more efficient doesn’t always mean a reduction in head count; it means we get more value for our dollar. It’s a lean concept that is widely accepted to address “wasted human talent.” Truth be told, most individuals would embrace an opportunity to utilize more of their analytical skills than they would their dexterity capabilities.
Another reason for the hesitancy to embrace digital data imaging may be one that plagues us in every area imaginable: being burnt. Early attempts at digital data imaging migration may not have been a good experience and access to technology without training and a succinct roadmap leaves most of us lost and frustrated. What do we call it? Where do we store it? How do we access it, and who is securing it? There’s added anxiety with the simultaneous introduction of new software applications and of course the ever-present compliance confusion; “Is a digital copy a copy or an original”? If it’s an original can I destroy the paper? As organizations start to delve into the details of digital data imaging migration, paralysis eventually replaces progress, and if organizations are able to get past the initial deterrents of digital data imaging migration, most will eventually stall out at the budget phase, despite the undisputed value on the bottom line.
Digital Data Imaging Migration Solutions Start with Identifying Your Unique Need
So is there a solution? The answer is “no.” There isn’t “a” solution, but there are “many” solutions. Problems arise when organizations try to align themselves with “a solution” before identifying their own unique need. Technology is a tool not a solution. Policy and processes are tools as well. Scanning documents and workflow and cloud storage are all components that may contribute to a solution, but we can be easily lulled into believing that any one of these components is a stand-alone solution.
Once an organization understands the process of “problem identification”, they can start to build a solution that addresses core business objectives rather than slipping into a “one size fits all solution”.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-Anna Stratton is Director of Information Management Solutions at Southwest Solutions Group headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Anna specializes in records management and business process protocols, document scanning policy design, and information retention policies and process. Anna has over 18 years of professional business management experience and provides advice nationwide through the SYSTEC Group’s “Ask the Expert” column. Ms. Stratton is also a dynamic national speaker and conducts private corporate seminars on a variety of topics in addition to providing keynote and educational speeches for organizations such as ARMA and the Lorman Seminar Group. Ms. Stratton has been recognized by Cambridge Who’s Who for demonstrating dedication, leadership and excellence in information and asset management.
I’m going to say what none of us want to admit; I like paper! Yes, I use my iPhone and iPad to manage almost every aspect of my life, and I love the ease of electronic transactions and mobility. I want to take part in the progress and the digital data imaging migration, but there are just some areas in my world where paper still works better than electronic documents. I know how to find it (yes, there is a system to those piles), and I know what to do with it. Most of us have just figured out how to use those darn all-in-one copy machines and the thought of learning yet another way is just too daunting to even think about!
The Frustration We Experience Using Electronic Documents
In the same breath, we say we’re OK with change too, (as long as it’s associated with something like winning the lottery). We use electronic documents but don’t always mange them well. We have folder structures that go ten deep that made a lot of sense when we created them but are now the cause of carpel tunnel for all the clicks required to get to a single document. So, we save a document to our desktop where we know we can find it; except now our monitors have become mirrors of chaos that make us long for those paper file folders. In our infinite wisdom, we print those documents so that we can finally get to work on what started the search in the first place and for a single moment we feel a sense of control and inner peace. It’s no wonder digital data imaging is met with such resistance. Before we can really begin thinking about digital data imaging, electronic documents, and document scanning, we need to accept that there is a place for both paper and electronic documents and that the transition cannot be a quantum leap!
A New Perspective on the Paper vs Electronic Documents Conundrum
This is not a “how to” series, but rather a new perspective on how we handle the paper vs electronic document conundrum. The battle will continue between the paper lovers and the digitally determined until we start to recognize what it is we’re all actually battling about. It’s possible that we can continue with forward progress and still allow for a transitional comfort zone. I think both teams get a bad rap. The IT group is under the gun to find new ways for information to be useful while the departments have a confidence issue and are so busy trying to get their work done that they don’t have time to adapt to new ways.
It’s Time for Paper and Electronic Documents to Work Together
I don’t want to get all “rainbows and puppy dogs” here, but at some point we need to figure out how to understand each other. I sit at the table with department managers, IT directors and C-suite executives and no one speaks the same language. The pressure to stay current and relevant is real, but we can’t ignore the core business functions or the people performing them because we risk that the journey to the clouds is going to be a bumpy ride. The good news is that the sun does shine above those clouds (I promise that’s the last sappy statement I’ll make). Trying to figure how to deal with all the paper of the past, the paper we still use, and the paper we don’t want to create anymore includes technology, outsourcing, financial, and change management considerations. Trying to ice out one of those aspects will either paralyze organizations from doing anything or at the minimum, ruffle enough feathers along the way to warrant resistance.
Join me as we navigate through the world of digital data imaging and document scanning and talk about real world scenarios that include problem identification, understanding ROI, and managing changes along the way.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-Anna Stratton is Director of Information Management Solutions at Southwest Solutions Group headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Anna specializes in records management and business process protocols, document scanning, policy design, and information retention policies and process. Anna has over 18 years of professional business management experience and provides advice nationwide through the SYSTEC Group’s “Ask the Expert” column. Ms. Stratton is also a dynamic national speaker and conducts private corporate seminars on a variety of topics in addition to providing keynote and educational speeches for organizations such as ARMA and the Lorman Seminar Group. Ms. Stratton has been recognized by Cambridge Who’s Who for demonstrating dedication, leadership and excellence in information and asset management.