When the City of Langford realized they had too much paper, they did not choose to buy more file cabinets. Instead, they established an new, all-digital workflow.
People have been talking about the “paperless office” for years. For this to become a reality, an organization must not only convert all existing files to a digital format, but all incoming paper needs to be scanned as well. According to an article from IDG:
Before starting this transition in 2003, the City had a very manual and paper-based approach that, according to Mike Palmer, the City of Langford IT manager, “used to be walk to file room and retrieve a paper file and take it back to your desk.”
Scanning all incoming documents resolved the physical space issue but using network scanners to do the job was proving too much a burden on the devices, recalls Palmer.
“Because we were growing so quickly as a city, we had so much paper coming in and that was overwhelming our input capabilities,” he said.
Improving workflow requires more than just using advanced technology. In addition, stakeholders must have both authority and responsibility over the changing environment. Another quote from this story hints at this challenge:
But the initiative wasn’t just about scanning and storing paper documents. The goal was to ensure City employees could easily and quickly retrieve the files. Instead of using a third party file storage vendor, the City used Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server and workflow engine AutoStore, developed by HP partner Rockville, MD.-based Notable Solutions Inc., so that all scanned content could be indexed.
The document management workflow at the City of Langford is scalable such that the new version of the software, to which the City plans to upgrade, will support new PDF standards. And, new devices can be easily added to the network, said Palmer.
These quotes make it seem like the improvements are centered around technology, not people and process. A stated goal is to ensure that the software infrastructure can be readily upgraded. But what about making positive changes to the actual procedures, not just replacing paper files with electronic versions?
As we covered before in our blog about worker productivity, there is more to good management than making swift decisions. A paper-free office is probably more efficient, but it is much more important to work with stakeholders to discover what impacts their productivity and satisfaction. Having the most efficient operation in the world without understanding the nature of the work is like taking a high-speed train—in the wrong direction.
At AccelaWork, we help companies and non-profit organizations improve workflow. We believe that becoming more effective and more efficient does not require new technology as much as it requires the empowering and engaging of individuals. If the people in your office feel satisfied, productive and connected through their work, then the whole operation will thrive. For more information on ways to improve workflow without expensive technical solutions, contact our Indianapolis consultants. We look forward to helping you improve your business.