Rapport Office Management
How To Achieve The Paperless Office
If you’re reading this report surrounded by paper files you probably think the paperless office is a myth …
Indeed it’s probably the wrong term anyway, so think of the concept as Freedom from Paper. And once you fully grasp this concept and make it a reality you’ll benefit in more ways than you ever thought possible.
You’ve taken the first step in obtaining this e-Book so please take an hour or so to read it and then consider your course of action.
Myths & Reality
Information at your fingertips and when you need it - surely that’s utopia.
Well - yes it is but you too can achieve it if you follow the simple methods I’ve outlined.
The route to –
First though let’s dispel some myths.
You can simply follow your existing filing methods – in electronic form. Changes to your existing procedures should be evolutionary and not revolutionary.
2. I’ve seen document scanning systems and they’re too expensive for me …
Many are expensive and some businesses do require these solutions. Most businesses though do not. I’ve seen an accountancy practice start with a scanner costing less than £100 and get incredible results.
3. Document management systems, cannot be integrated with my office computer systems …
The results though are startling …
.And you can achieve all this with no risk and minimum cost.
It has not always been so …
Historically computer systems to store and access documents were complicated and expensive. Even worse they weren’t integrated with existing business procedures.
These systems for document generation and document capture – usually by expensive scanners are usually totally separate. Often the scanned documents are accessible only via a separate computer so the very people who need access are unable to benefit.
Indeed many systems bought for document capture were really intended for document archiving. These products typically scan documents into a single storage area, you can think of as a large bucket.
To find a document you need to specify a description of its title or contents and a very sophisticated piece of software called a search engine then looks for it.
If this really is what you want then fine. But don’t you think it would be more productive if this was fully integrated with all your office procedures.The New Approach … Your business procedures are client focussed and your document files are too. To find a document you probably go to the client file stored in a filing cabinet and search through the contents until you find it.
So it’s logical to implement a system for generating client related correspondence and other documents that’s client focussed too. Then you can do the same for incoming letters and documents.
You then have all the relevant documents for a client in its own electronic file. A single electronic "cabinet" or database then holds all your client files. It’s then a simple matter to be able to retrieve a letter or any document. Such a system is calledclient centric. By keeping things simple you don’t need a sophisticated search engine to locate a document. You just look in the client’s electronic file.
What’s more you can choose to archive selected documents by date or by client to off-line storage such as CD-ROM. So your document archiving is fully integrated with your system for document generation, document capture and document retrieval.
So now you’re a long way towards achieving the paperless office.
But you’re not quite there yet …
Your CRM solution should also be integrated with your document management system.
Unless your CRM and document management systems are integrated you’ll be generating paper between them. You’ll also miss out on the immediate access to information that a totally integrated solution can bring.
If you’ve managed mailing campaigns you’ll know how time consuming they can be.
This should be an easy process if your CRM database is integrated with your document management system. It’ll be very inefficient if it’s not.
So are we there yet?
Not quite. There are two more aspects to consider …..
The Profitable Benefits …
... I’m sure you can think of many others relevant to your business.
If you’re still not convinced of the benefits then think of the time saving alone by doing this simple calculation:
Time taken to find a document =
No/docs needed per day/person =
No. of people =
Average charge out rate =
No of working days/year (220?) =
Now compare the total time to that from implementing a computer system – typically about 10 seconds per document.
Add on the time savings in creating and amending correspondence and you’ll be amazed at the potential increase in chargeable time running into thousands of £’s.
And don’t forget about the photocopying you currently do making copies of documents when several people are involved.
So there you have it – you’ve created a structure to your previous unstructured data and turned it into valuable information.
How to get there and what’s involved?
Start with Document Generation
You’re probably already using Microsoft Word and have created document templates for your standard letters. These can be imported for use straight away.
You may need others but are finding it too time consuming to write the complicated macros. Think how productive it would be if you could produce standard templates without macros.
Writing personalised letters from document templates is incredibly easy and encourages managers, directors, partners and business owners to write their own with immediate benefits. Or simply draft a letter for completion by your secretary.
Reviewing a draft on screen saves much time and avoids the need to print draft copies.
Your selected product will probably include a document tracking element. This will enable you to track changes to a document whilst it’s at the draft stage.
You may be using dictation software such as Via Voice or Dragon Dictate that generate Microsoft Word documents. It should be straightforward to integrate this with your Document Management System.
Your document management system is now client centric so to locate any document you simply select the client record. Then from the displayed list of documents choose the one you want.
If you prefer you can choose to categorise client documents by activity or person – so a particular group sees just their correspondence.
Your client files should contain everything that you’d expect to see in a paper file. Including - Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, incoming & outgoing email, "PDF" reports, scanned images and forms.
Whether you’re producing an individual letter or a bulk mailing requires the relevant information to be held within your database. You decide the data you want to hold.
Start with basic data such as the products or services you supply, the type of business, details of directors, critical dates. Add more later on as you realise the benefits from having valuable information at your fingertips.
Either way you avoid the photocopying of correspondence and related documentation for a multiple readership. Scanned documents are stored once but referred to by anyone who is allowed access.
Who created it?
Who has changed it?
Has it been emailed and if so – to whom?
Has it been referred to anybody and are there any notes against it?
The information on a page
The resolution of the scanner. Scanning at 300 dots per inch, (dpi) takes up less space than scanning at 600 dpi.
A coloured page occupies much more than b & w.
Whether you’re scanning documents as "tif" or "PDF". The latter takes up less storage. If your scanner only scans as "tif" you can still store documents as "PDF" by using a software converter. Documents will take longer to scan as there’s an extra stage involved – but it’s automatic.
It used to be expensive & difficult – now you can access your office network securely from home, a client’s office or any place at all. There are a variety of solutions – some cheap & cheerful – others more sophisticated & expensive.
The growth in Internet access points and wireless network services mean that you can access your database from virtually anywhere. You choose the product or service that best fits your need.
Some database products include the facility to "work off-line". So you can take your database with you on your Notebook computer.
Then when you return to the office and re-connect to your network your database will be updated with any documents you created when working "off-line"
You choose the product that best fits your need.
Whichever method you choose you’ll be able to access your customer & prospect database, documents, diary and email. You can generate a letter, email it to a client and be assured that it’s stored safely in your database.
Whichever method you choose you’ll be able to access your client database, documents, diary and email on-line. You can generate a letter, email it to a client and be assured that it’s stored safely in your document management database.
Your Chosen Product …
You may decide to select a product that integrates with your existing application software. Whilst this may give you added benefits do not compromise your selection of the best Document Management product for your business.
So you’ve selected a product, converted your existing names & addresses and other information and implemented document management. Now how will things change within your office?