In my first job as a high school student I had a great boss. He taught me that it is better to do things right the first time than have do it over. I am reminded of this often in my career as a document management professional.
For the last 16 years I have heard these things and sometimes it turns into a good productive conversation. Other times people are just not interested in hearing a better way.
Either way there is nothing that puts me into education mode more than the following 3 phrases:
“Oh, our XYZ software has the ability to scan in documents. We just haven’t learned how to use it yet.
“”We have scanners already and just use windows folders…seems to be working fine.
“” We are staying on top of daily scanning, but the boss said to keep the paper. So, we are still using those old file cabinets.”
Of course these are all innocent statements and folks don’t know what they don’t know. Everyone is good at something or knows more about one subject than the next. None of us know it all and it is important to be open to learning from others.
Proverbs 27:17 states “As Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” This is a great Proverb from the wisest man that ever lived. We would do well to bring that concept into the business world. Whether with managers, employees or vendors, listening with an open mind is important. We learn everyday from others.
So, whats wrong with each statement above? In short they are not the right way nor are they the best way to experience effective document management. I can’t put all of the disadvantages of each statement in this single post but I will speak to each one.
Our software has scanning ability– Just because a software program has scanning abilities in no way means it is effective at helping yo manage documents. In most cases, it is not. Each specialized software does it’s job well. However, they all seem to be crossing over into an area that quite frankly, they are just not that good at. That area is document management. It causes people to make bad decisions in some cases.
Attaching a tiff image to a file is not good document management. Having to scroll up and down the page is not effective document retrieval. Allowing users to name their own files will prove to be a disaster in 3 years or less. If you can’t keep every associated document in one place, it’s not effective document management.
We use Windows Explorer– Windows explorer is the WORST way to manage and store company documents. I could write a book on this subject. Windows Explorer is not a database and it has many, many limitations. There are paperless software packages out there that use windows explorer. It is a known fact in my profession that after several thousands of documents and multiple layers of sub folders, the searching gets to be a nightmare. Most businesses will be looking to convert to a database driven document management system in less than 5 years after implementing such a system. Conversion is expensive if it can even be done. So, do it right the first time and get a database driven system.
We have to keep the paper– This is a pet peeve of mine too. I won’t get into Legal Statutes here but I challenge anyone to show me any state or federal law that requires that paper be retained for a certain period of time. Those are called Retention laws and they specifically mention ‘RECORDS” not ‘PAPER” usually they will define what a “RECORD ” is. Microfilm, Microfiche, Digital Data or Paper can all be ‘RECORDS”.
Of course when going paperless and getting rid of paper you have to follow certain protocols. Like, don’t shred prior to backups taking place. Plan your shredding strategy and be smart about it. When it comes to backup strategy don’t skimp. Do offsite and onsite and make sure someone is being notified of back up errors. Quarterly or at least annually test the restore and make sure everything is working properly.
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