How to create a paperless office
By Roger Beharry Lall | July 15, 2014
The paperless office doesn’t have to be a dream – there are many ways organizations can make it a reality. By not relying on paper, there are a number of benefits which can be achieved, the most important of which is improved workplace efficiency and employee productivity. Imagine a day when you can avoid paper cuts from searching for an old invoice from 5 years ago, or when you can assemble multiple documents into one file without having to print anything out and scan it back in. it’s definitely possible!
Starting with the right file format
The beauty of paper is that everything is in the same format: paper. But how do you translate that to the digital space? When dealing with images and forms and reports, files come in a slew of file formats. This can make having a paperless office challenging, since some file formats, like CAD for example, require special viewing software. Further, some file formats are from legacy applications which hardly anyone uses (Lotus Notes, anyone?).
In order to truly streamline digitization, organizations need to decide on a standard file format into which every other file should convert. In many industries, this standard is being relegated to the PDF, for a variety of reasons:
- No special viewing software is required
- Files are secure and unalterable
- File sizes are small for efficient storage
- Text can be made searchable using Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
Considering Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
Speaking of Optical Character Recognition, this is a vital aspect when considering a paperless office. When moving all of their files from paper to electronic format, organizations will need a quick and easy way to locate certain documents or certain sections of text within documents. This is where Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology comes in. All text within PDF documents, including text in images, can be made searchable using OCR software, ensuring that finding documents within a paperless office is much easier than in a paper-based one.
Understanding searchability vs. findability
Now that we’ve covered how documents can be made searchable in a paperless office, let’s focus on findability – which is in fact quite different from searchability. When we talk about searchability, we refer to text within a document. When talking about findability, however, we refer to finding the document itself.
In a paperless office this can be made easier by assigning detailed metadata to each document. This will help your Enterprise Content Management system to call up the document when you search for items you’ve included in the metadata. You can tag things such as author, date, document type, title, subject, department and so on, in order to speed up the process of finding the right documents.
Automating the paperless process
Manually converting paper files to electronic ones can take a lot of time, resources and effort. However, the process can also be automated and integrated directly into your organization’s Line-of-Business platform or Enterprise Content Management system. Automation greatly reduces the chances of human error, and improves efficiency within the organization.
There are a number of other considerations to be aware of when your organization decides to go paperless. Take a look at this on-demand webinar for some of the gaps your organization can avoid: Going Paperless - Mind the Process. Gaps
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