Monthly Archives: August 2013

Hospital scrambles to find four years worth of records

As more practices within the health care industry implement paperless office solutions, physicians may argue that they like their traditional paper records. Even though these methods have worked for decades, they are not always efficient when other technologies can do a better job streamlining operations.

At Hamilton Health Services (HHS) in Canada, the staff has no choice but to go through thousands of documents to figure out where their budget went between 2007-2011, according to The Spectator.

The practice's finance department said it will take five-and-a-half months to look through 23,500 paper invoices from its offsite storage facility. HHS thought it would benefit doing this because it cost the facility $3,600, but board members appealed to make the office reveal these records regardless of its specific situation.

HHS' refusal to publicly show its balance sheets violates the state's Freedom of Information and Protection Privacy Act. Canada law requires all public entities to keep six years worth of financial statements in case there are tax discrepancies.

"These weren't archival records from 30 years ago," Fred Vallance-Jones, leader of the audit, told the source. "In an atmosphere of increasing expectation that records on expenditures should be public, you'd hardly expect them to be squirreled away in some dark storage room somewhere and to cost thousands of dollars to get them out."

Taking the necessary steps to change a business' process software takes time, but the pay-off can save a lot people from possible headaches. Businesses within the private and public sector can benefit from electronic document management. This way, organizations can easily retrieve information that local governments may need.

New York state to centralize its document organization

Throughout New York, there are 50 data centers managing years of public documents. As a way to streamline operations within the Empire State, Governor Andrew Cuomo created the Office of Information Technology Services (OITS) to reduce redundant tasks among 120,000 state employees, according to ComputerWorld. Some departments were capable of completing other tasks like video conferencing and producing tape backups while others were not.

Local governments have said that having a central business process software system can be difficult when different offices are operating from a variety of vendors. Cuomo decided to take the challenge to do this because it will save the state $3 million in recurring costs. 

Issues during Hurricane Sandy triggered the Empire State to make these changes because government agencies in some counties lost email service. Once the construction of OITS' buildings are completed, chief information officer Brian Digman told ComputerWorld that email networks and applications will be "consolidated now into one central provider."

Contact information and file sharing are among the many functions public workers will be able to complete once OITS finishes its rollout in 2015.

Digman is one of the 3,300 IT professionals from 37 agencies in New York assisting Cuomo during the process. It may take a few years, but they are looking forward to finally having all state employees on the same page. Now, local governments will no longer have to worry about creating their own IT budgets, as Cuomo also plans to make that a statewide initiative as well.

This is why it is important for all staffers within the business to be involved with the transition to new business process software. If one executive is not on board, it can delay plans and become costly later on. 

How offices can benefit from electronic document management

The costs of running a business are steadily increasing and executives need to find ways to pinch pennies.Instead of layoffs or eliminating certain department-wide perks to trim costs, why not adopt business process software and convert to a paperless office? Accountants may begin to see a return on the investment in as little as six months.

On top of simplifying the office's daily workflow, employees will have additional work spaces. The space for one employee decreased from 225 square feet to 150 in the last three years, according to a CoreNet Global survey. A room once filled with filing cabinets could be converted into a larger conference room or provide additional desk space for new hires. There is no reason why senior staff should pay rent for an empty room.

Through a cloud-based server, staffers will spend less time looking for files. All they have to do is type information in a search field and the program will find the document for you. Document hosting solutions end up saving organizations, space, time and money.

Businesses look into offices in London, surging commercial rent

Over in the United Kingdom, more firms are planning to establish bureaus in London. In 2012, demand for new space brought the city  £14 billion in new investments, according to the Director of Finance. Native business owners are considering moving outside of the city because landlords increased the price of their commercial lease. However, before making a large move like this, they are considering paperless office solutions.

It is clear that these platforms can streamline operations and reduce waste, but only 32 percent out of the 278 business OnePoll asked started integrating document management technologies. Even though 56 percent of participants admitted that storing these paper documents are unnecessary expenses.

Organizations can change their business processes software whenever they choose. The earlier staffers implement these programs into their workflow, the more efficient their days become. Future plans to relocate may no longer be an option if less money is spent on storage rooms or printing supplies.

Change in document management processes requires multifaceted support

Many agencies within the federal government are working toward changing their records management systems due to the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) 2012 directive. By 2014, the agency hopes that 20.4 billion federal records can be accessed through document management programs, according to Fed Tech Magazine.

The goal of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), a sector within the Agriculture Department, is to make their program more user-friendly, based on recommendations NARA provided in last month's report. The department realized that other agencies are spending a majori‚Äčty of their time archiving emails instead of information that plays a larger part in their daily operations.

NARA recommends branches to categorize their files in five parts: legal, financial, mission-related, agency correspondence and office documents. Labels can be filled with specified folders of information.

"If it fits one of those categories and you set one or two metadata tags, it will help us manage the content, discover it appropriately and preserve it appropriately," AMS chief information officer Doug Bailey told the source.

For example, within the "office documents" category, there would be a folder or metadata tag for spreadsheets and another one for presentations. At the state and local levels, some offices already made the switch. Territories that have not, due to lack of funding, may have the chance to do so within the next year.

Information technology budgets to increase by almost 75 percent

According to a Gartner CIO survey, local governments saw their IT budgets either expand or hold steady. Officials are hoping that additional resources will help departments adopt business process software that can interoperate with other offices.

One of the issues facing CIOs who work for state agencies is that they are spending a lot of time collaborating with many bureaus. Buildings across the street from one another may be operating from complete different vendors.

"This makes it really hard for the central CIO to succeed because he/she is continually herding cats to get anything done," Bill Schrier, former chief technology officer for Seattle's city government, told Computer World.

CIOs and state officials placed IT work organization as their second-highest priority for the year, showing that widespread change of mindset will allow CIOs to attack these overdue issues. Gartner predicts that support from local governments will continue to increase IT budgets by 1.3 percent for the next four years.

AIIM: 70 percent of businesses are file scanning

There are many ways to lighten the amount of paper within the office. One way staffers can do this is through the use of a document scanning application. Whether personnel decide to use it to archive forms or capture handwriting from older documents, about 70 percent of businesses implemented file scanning to some extent in their offices, according to research from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM).

When a document scanning application is used on a regular basis, staffers can benefit from updated databases full of information instead of searching through bulky filing cabinets. Instead they can immediately scan invoices once they arrive, for example. Despite a majority of offices accepting this technology, AIIM also explained where staff members can find room for improvement.

About 20 percent of companies "use scanners for office tasks but not as a coordinate input to process or archive," which ends up being a waste of everyone's time. Instead of taking advantage of this service, people are spending time possibly making many copies of the same paperwork. In turn, the server or the enterprise document management system may be filled unnecessary information. 

This is why a transition to a paperless office only leads to maximized efficiency if all employees are fully invested and all process are overhauled.

Organizations that want to implement scanning services at their office, but do not know where to start, have the option to outsource to a document scanning company. Many businesses that do this are trying to take care of their older records, but 40 percent are hoping that they will complete more scanning in the beginning so they are not overwhelmed in the long run.

Stanford University: A document management program success

In Silicon Valley, where there are a plethora of tech startups, Stanford University has the necessary access to build connections with these businesses. As a research institution, it has established partnerships with medical teams from Kaiser Permanente to the world of health care information technology, according to Venture Beat. Now Stanford is working toward changing their electronic document management program.

Prior to the change, university finance director Katie Talamantez managed all their paperwork on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Talamantez "found this introduced too many opportunities for errors and duplication and grew concerned after almost committing multimillion-dollar mistakes," the Venture Beat article stated. As a way to take control of the situation, the finance department invested in a cloud-based, paperless office solution.

After the department began implementing the documents onto the server, Talamantez saw the benefits of these technologies. She was able to tell other offices where they excessively spent resources—not letting staffers go past the organization's $250 million budget.

In fact, almost half the businesses in the United States see the advantages of use cloud computing and about 40 percent of them are implementing this type of platform into their daily operations, according to Forbes. However, their study showed that chief financial officers (CFOs) are the most unwilling staffers to make the switch.

If Talamantez, a fellow CFO, is able to manage a budget using cloud-based technologies, other businesses should feel confident in its capabilities. If files are properly secure with strong passwords and encryption, then senior staff should not worry as much.

Study: Invoice imaging software saves costs within six months

Filling out invoices is a part of businesses' daily routines, whether they are ordering a new batch of supplies or mailing contracts to a new client. However, these small expenses accumulate over time and deplete a company's IT budget. Instead, departments can save 60 to 80 percent from their allocated resources just by using invoice imaging software.

Earlier this year, a study from Billentis, an electronic billing business explained that chief financial and information officers can see a return on this investment. But this does not have to be a long-term improvement—respondents saw a change in six months, according to Supply Chain Digital.

"Today's finance departments face a complex and challenging business environment that requires tremendous business savvy, making innovation an essential driver of the department's excellence," Billentis owner Bruno Koch told the source. "Erratic markets, the globalization of trading, new regulation and compliance issues, increasing complexity of business processes and steady change/transformation have forced the function of finance to redefine its role in the organizations."

In the world of logistics, organized invoices are important to ensure inventory is accurate. On top of that, paying for separate expenses like postage, photo copies and printing can become a thing of the past with e-invoicing technologies. Instead of paying employees to complete tasks by hand, paperless office solutions can help companies keep expenses low and hold onto their profits.

To take it a step further, departments can organize their invoices on cloud-based servers. This way, every e-invoice is recorded into their database in case a vendor mentions there was a discrepancy in a recent order. Software like these have updated search fields that will help employees find the information they need.

How offices can slowly change their business process software

When a company plans an initiative to change their enterprise content management, it takes time to get the program up and running. Executives have to find a vendor who offers services that work for their staff. From there, departments must be trained on the software first. Before the change is permanent, individuals should take this time to bring up questions and concerns.

At this point, senior staff may decide to change their approach toward a paperless office. Based on everyone's feedback, they can use this information as key areas to implement certain technologies. Whether they are interested in a document scanning application to clear up office space or a document management solution, starting at a place where more employees want change will encourage hesitant others to follow suit.

An article on Environmental Leader mentions the benefits of reducing paper while still utilizing printing technology because it can still "reduce the requirement for handling tangible, paper copies; this in effect digitizes filing cabinets and folders of text documentation," the author Steve Pond explained.

Departments that participate in these changes will help their business spend less money on excessive printing if they utilize these services. To take it a step further, employees can check how much wasted paper they used with managed print services. Installed within the printer's server, the program can identify where output occurs.

Easing all colleagues toward these paperless office solutions will streamline operations. Even though paper use will still be a part of the business' daily processes, it will be much lower than it was a year ago, perhaps even five years ago. However, it starts with the cooperation of everyone in the office. 

Paperless office solutions are growing, despite road blocks

Why print out documents that can easily be seen from a secure server?

There's no doubt that document scanning systems improve work productivity in the office, because when businesses don't adopt these systems, they lose out on work space that could be dedicated to other operations. Another problem is that some employees continue to complete a majority of their tasks using pen and paper, even if there are paperless office solutions available.

In fact, about 74 percent of organizations see the benefits of using paper management software, but only 24 percent of them are enforcing these efforts company-wide, according to the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM). Its recent Industry Watch report showed that people are utilizing these programs, but still prefer to complete certain tasks the traditional way.

This ongoing tug-of-war among these two opinions, along with a lack of enterprise-wide efforts to go paperless, allows individual departments to choose if they want to implement paperless office solutions. Despite the fact there is evidence that using software to manage these files can increase response times between divisions by four times—possibly five times faster—it only takes everyone using their programs on a consistent basis.

If staff members cannot come to an agreement on how to share their records, long-term inefficiencies could result. Colleagues are unable to take advantage of quickly looking through shared files, instead employees have to spend time searching for copies for files in a large storage unit.

How can people truly streamline operations if they are looking through dated-folders all day? AIIM's study proved that almost 50 percent of respondents want to save time looking for documents. Solve this issue by implementing a paperless office solution that can search through all of the office's documents.

HSBC’s Chinese office implements paper management software

Many businesses look into paperless office solutions to reduce waste and streamline operations among different departments. Even though it is becoming increasingly popular, other nations like China are slowly making progress in this direction.

Hong Kong, a major city in the country, had plans to store physical share certificates within an electronic document management software in 1988, but not much has changed since then, according to the South China Morning Post.

Financial institutions HSBC and the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing will stop printing documents from boardroom meetings, saving them about 12,000 pages of wasted paper a year. Individuals are able to access, share and download documents as soon as they are available on their secure cloud-based server. These services allow executives to have the flexibility to work with one another outside of China

"The digital boardroom is a better way to securely distribute confidential information to prevent the loss or theft of information during the physical delivery of paper documents among directors," Phillip Baldwin of ICSA Boardroom Apps told the source.

This system will save HSBC's 14-member board time and money. Instead of making six trips to Hong Kong each year to meet with one another, they are able to stay in touch through the business process software. Perhaps, other enterprises in China will follow suit to provide these options for their own clients.

"I believe the city will catch up soon and many companies will shift to a digital boardroom in the next five years," Baldwin said.

Traveling to China is a long and costly expense. Staffers are spending 12 to 24 hours flying across the world to give updates on operations that could easily be explained in a digital boardroom meeting.