Monthly Archives: October 2013

Polk County courts finished paperless transitio​n

Whenever a business decides to move toward a paperless office, senior staff members have to create a plan that works best for everyone within the organization. Through the support of IT professionals, they can help streamline this transition and make it as smooth as possible. These changes cannot happen overnight, but with patience, all workers will be able to reap the benefits.

This similar scenario occur​red in Polk County Iowa, where court officials have been working on switching from paper records to the state's central electronic document management system.

Before Polk County joined the network, about 35 out of the state's 99 counties used this setup, incorporating about 40 percent of the state's court documents. Being electronically available, attorneys, plaintiffs and judges are able to access these documents without the hassle of asking a court clerk.

Similar to other organizations, Polk County feared the glitches that could occur from using the software, but Polk County Clerk of Courts Randy Osborn told the Des Moines Register that it was important to trust the IT professionals.

"[Information technology] people constantly [have to] monitor when this happens and they're able to allocate more storage space immediately," Osborn said.

Since the transition began in January, the courts implemented civil court and small claims and family law paperwork into the system's database. By October, Polk County completed the transition by adding criminal cases. Along with the installation of eight computers in the local courthouse, citizens can look up information immediately.

"Long-term going forward there's going to be some great benefits for our office and for the citizenry of Polk County also," Osborn added.

The transition took some time, but it worked out for many parties, who will be able to increase work efficiency.

What can a paperless office teach schools?

Every year, students carry bulky textbooks to and from school to complete school assignments. On average backpacks can weigh between 18 to 30 pounds, the New York Times reported, even though health experts have voiced that school materials should weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of a child's weight.

"A heavy backpack is a strong contributor to low-back pain in children," Dr. Orly Avitzur of Consumer Reports told the Times.

As a way to alleviate physical stress to students, some schools have begun implementing their own version of a "paperless office," utilizing digital libraries instead of purchasing new versions of schoolbooks year after year.

In East Notthingham, Pennsylvania, students who attend Oxford Area High School will be able to access textbooks off an iPad, which weighs a little more than one pound. This tablet also decreases the likelihood a student will forget necessary materials because it is stored within the district's database.

During a time when books are updated annually, this digital alternative will allow students to learn the most up-to-date information.

"We want to put kids in a situation where they can learn more effectively, faster and it seemed like the parents want to meet us there and help their kids have a better educational experience," Oxford Area High principal Christopher Dormer told the Westchester Daily Local.

By next January, all students within the district will be able to use these tablets to take notes and complete homework assignments.

Over at the Archbishop Stepinac High school in White Plains, New York, all students are operating from iPads.

Stepinac's success story

To ensure that all materials would be available in the school's digital library, Stepinac High collaborated with Pearson Publishing, one of the largest textbook printing houses in the United States, according to USA Today.

Because Stepinac is a religion-affiliated school, school president Reverend Tom Collins had to reach out to multiple Catholic publishing companies to establish a contact that offered PDF downloads onto the tablet. On average, students spent $700 per year on school supplies, including textbooks.

Stepinac's switch also expedites work for teachers, who spend hours grading and creating lessons plans for the students. For example, one website can identify when a student repeats specific phrases or words and, shows examples on how to rewrite it, USA Today explained.

"There is so much here, you can go through it all day," English department chairman Nancy Bisogno added.

Companies can also benefit in the same way by adopting business process software. Instead of doing daily tasks by hand, programs can greatly cut down these processes.

NOAA’s nautical maps go paperless

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is responsible for reporting severe weather, daily forecasts and climate monitoring, but it is also known for printing nautical charts for fisherman and sailors, according to the organization's website.

For more than 150 years, boaters would look at 4-foot-by-3-foot, heavy lithographic maps to see where there the NOAA identified shipwrecks or other hazards in the sea. However, after 2014, NOAA will stop printing these nautical charts to save printing costs, the Associated Press reported. Making a copy of these large maps would cost the NOAA $20 per graph and they were selling it at the same price, which means the government agency never made a profit from these products.

This paperless initiative stems from competition with small businesses that print their own maps with "more up-to-date and accurate [information]," Captain Shep Smith, head of the NOAA marine chart division, explained. In fact, the NOAA didn't have much of a choice because the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees all federal chart-making told the government agency that this cut had to be made to reduce costs.

Despite cutting production, the NOAA will continue to use the $100 million budget to continue recording information about American waters. Users will still be able to access these maps, but only electronically or through PDFs. There will be a printing option available, but that will have to be done at the individual's discretion. 

In the past, fisherman and mariners used the maps to navigate around specific waterways, Smith told the source.

"Think of them as the roadmap of the ocean," Smith said. "The navigational charts tell you what's under the water, which is critical for navigation."

AIIM hosts ‘Paper Free Day’

Companies are constantly looking to find ways to save money, but many executives overlook the cost of printing. Every day, employees print paperwork for to sign contracts or share documents even though these processes can be completed within an electronic document management system. 

On October 24, the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) is hosting "Paper Free Day," inviting businesses to turn off their printing equipment and educate themselves on the actual advantages of these programs. AIIM reported that two-thirds of companies that swapped their business process software saw the investment returned within 18 months, and half received it within a fiscal year.

"Paper-based content clogs up processes—masking workflows, adding delays and limiting flexibility of where and how the process takes place," AIIM explained.

The only way to do truly reap the benefits of this solution is if a business goes "digital from start to finish." Businesses have to look past being reliant on the printer and organize areas where paper waste could be diminished—this requires effort from every employee. For example, archives of paperwork that need to be kept based on a state's document retention policy can be scanned and stored into the company's central system. 

Over in the United Kingdom, about 72 percent of private and public sector workers delay filing paperwork because they need a person's signature, according to a study from YouGov. Instead of taking up desk space for pending signatures, consider obtaining e-signature capabilities. All of this can be achieved through business process software.

Why businesses should consider electronic document management

Though there are many successful paperless office stories out there, many businesses have yet to implement these systems. Within an organization, it is likely that the finance or human resources departments are using these programs, but it may take years before an organization has an entirely electronic database.

The potential to increase work productivity is there, but HarborPoint owner Don Lueders told AIIM that oftentimes, staff members are holding tightly onto paper records, acting as if electronic alternatives "haven't really changed [work processes] all that much."

However, this is far from true because years worth of records can now be readily available from searching a few document-specific keywords instead of going through folders. Keep in mind that the only way these files are going to make it into the system is if they are periodically input by the records manager.

Just like any document repository system, it must be maintained and updated. Too many times a business owner will blame the application for not meeting their management needs, but the database cannot do all the work on its own. Transitioning takes time, but the effort has to be consistent. Without it, many of us are stuck with "absurd volumes of content" and less space to put it.

Businesses that want to maximize the amount of tasks that are completed in a given day should look into electronic document management systems. A document management provider can help with the transition with this change and recommend specific software that meets your business' needs. 

NBA team implements partial paperless tickets program

Time after time, recreational events get fed up dealing with people who purchase fraudulent tickets, even though some have said they buy them from well-known third-party companies like StubHub and Craigslist.

As a way to reduce these issues, some performers and venues have started to allow customers to utilize paperless tickets to reduce waste and increase efficiency. Some events have made ticket purchases even more stringent, allowing attendees to swipe their credit cards upon entry, according to Fox Business.

Though file scanning tickets from a smartphone is a fairly new concept, the Nets decided to implement a club-exclusive card to "protect our customer[s]," Fred Mangione, Brooklyn Nets' chief officer of marketing and revenue, told the Wall Street Journal. The Brooklyn Nets NBA franchise is launching this procedure for their season ticket holders.

Although ticket resellers like StubHub have found that paperless vouchers may "present a real challenge for [their] business," Brooklyn Nets season ticket holders who wish to sell games they don't plan on attending can transfer them via email to friends, family or third-party retailers.

Nonetheless, Mangione recommends ticket holders to post their unwanted tickets on the NBA Ticket Exchange website because, there have been many instances where people would come to a game "with bogus tickets they bought on StubHub."

The Brooklyn Nets would be the 20th team in the NBA to have a paperless ticket program, but these season holder cards also work as a credit card. Each time a person purchases concessions or merchandise on the account, they may win perks like a night in one of the luxury boxes.

Businesses are always trying new projects to work toward a more paperless office, and organizations that want to implement similar solutions can reach out to an electronic document management provider.

Police department rolls out regional police records service

Businesses that have used electronic document hosting programs found large success from these applications, but the systems are typically used on a smaller scale. Local governments, for example, found that daily workflow has become much more efficient, but sharing can be tricky if another office operates from a different system.

Police officers in Camden County, New Jersey decided to create a central police records system to expedite communication with different departments and share information, according to the Courier-Post.

"We see it really taking off in the near future, once chiefs can see it up and operational and realize the benefits of the project," Bellmawr Police Chief Bill Walsh told the news source.

At this point of adoption, only Oaklyn and Bellmawr have started using the business process software. Benefits include officers being able to submit reports during their shift as well as accessing a live feed of pending investigations and calls to service. Previously, officers could only submit reports at the end of their shift. Once the system is completely installed by 2014, about 12 police departments will be running from the same operating system.

"All the cooperating police departments chipped in for hardware and each purchased their own software," Walsh explained. "The savings are tremendous when you purchase as a group and you split costs involved with building your infrastructure to support the project."

This massive network of information can potentially lower crime rates in Camden County because more police officers will become aware of "matters going on in and around neighboring jurisdictions," Oaklyn Police Chief Joe Abbate added.

In the past, many police officers found themselves restricted to continue an investigation because they are unable to patrol a neighboring community. Using this portal can help local departments get to the bottom of illegal activities sooner. 

Study: Businesses ‘at the start’ of their paperless office journey

Electronic document management is becoming a larger part of a businesses' operations, but a study from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) found that that executives are still in the early stages of the transition. 

Even though 74 percent of respondents said that they are in the midst of increasing their paperless office solutions, AIIM realized that not enough tasks are electronically processed.

Based on this information, AIIM recommends that IT staffers should have "constant vigilance to stop paper leaking in the process." The only way a business can truly improve its bottom line through this investment is if more aspects of the software were actively utilized. About 77 percent of participants complete five or fewer tasks electronically. 

"We know that in these very large organizations, especially government agencies, there are hundreds if not thousands of processes that could potentially be made paper-free, so we are still very much at the start of this journey," AIIM researchers explain.

To take it a step further, electronic document management hasn't become a company-wide initiative. Based on the study, about 63 percent of users work in human resources or finance departments. Consultants and logistic companies were found to be the industries most likely to implement these programs. 

Out of more than 60 percent of human resources and finance participants, more than 60 percent of them considered the paperless investment "excellent or good."

Though not many logistic businesses have these capabilities, about 50 percent of organizations that do said that their system has been "good" or "excellent" for their operations.

How paperless office solutions can help Wall Street

After Hurricane Sandy impacted many states along the Atlantic Coast, especially parts of New Jersey and New York, businesses had to delay many of their operations. Flooded buildings and damaged records made it difficult for business owners to bounce back to normal operations.

Wall Street in downtown Manhattan found itself in the position to halt operations for two days—it was the first time NASDAQ and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) closed its doors since the Great Blizzard in 1888, ComputerWorld explained. Though many trading centers had business process software capabilities from offsite data centers in parts of New Jersey—NASDAQ's backup center is in Virginia, officials decided not to complicate the commute for many of these traders.

Also, if Wall Street's all-electronic trading system had glitches, unfavorable work conditions could have caused "a disorderly closure," Alex Tabb, partner and chief technology analyst at Tabb Group, told the source.

Since Hurricane Sandy, these businesses have installed backup power grids and generators, to ensure that the system could be powered up and actively utilized during a major natural disaster. This measure should increase certainty, but David Weiss, an analyst with the Aite Group, mentioned that "It doesn't do much good to have data centers up and running if no one else can get to them."

Additional staff members and document hosting providers can further assist these companies to continue their daily routines during the most crucial situations. During the storm, many buildings within the Financial District were hit because this part of Manhattan is located near the Hudson River.

Offices inside 111 Wall Street, which were flooded, and a Verizon switch station, which lost power, were among the many structures dealing with the cleanup process.

Why businesses should protect their paperless office solutions

Once a business implements electronic data processes, the next step for executives is to safeguard their digital assets to ensure strong work productivity for an extended period of time.

Electronic document management systems are more secure than paper files, but ultimately, the information in any system is only as safe as a company allows it to be. In conjunction with the business process software, digital asset management (DAM) will streamline operations, safeguard a company's reputation with their clients and reduce costs, CMS Wire explains.

DAM, like many electronic processes, consists of multiple tasks like annotation of files within a server and the retrieval and distribution of company information, as well as managing the system's overall functionality. DAM is meant to be a cyber security measure—protecting the company from future data breaches and theft. 

Over time, businesses will upload many files and documents into the system, which means that "more than ever, there is direct need for DAM to serve as a core application within the enterprise to manage these assets," CMS Wire contributor John Horodyski writes.

Actively updating a company's DAM will ensure that all information is stored in the correct folders and shared with the appropriate staffers. These tasks may take up a lot of time at first, but IT departments should set up a framework that works for all employees who are responsible for adding new files into the system.

Each time a file is scanned, it should be labeled to ensure it is stored in the right location for the department that relies on these documents. In the world of IT, they call it metadata. Forgetting to input metadata tags for each file can make it difficult for companies to find the paperwork in the future. A lack of organization and structure will complicate an employee's workflow.

Nowadays, cyber security is essential for all businesses. Firewalls and anti-viruses must be supported with passwords and encryption. Chief information officers (CIO) have to work with senior staffers to know which crew member deserves what level of clearance. 

Proper document hosting can expedite compliance requests with executives, clients and local governments. Electronic document management is becoming a larger part of a business' operations.