Volume 13, Issue 6 - July/August 2012

Guest Column

Storage Solutions
Discover the Savings of Going Paperless

by Nick Carter

How would it benefit your company if you could take every piece of paper in your office and throw it into a small box hidden from view? They would never get misplaced and with a few key strokes your employees could easily find any one of them.

Consider the Possibilities
Think of the productivity gains if employees never lost a file and had a business system that automatically files any documents and reports with the information necessary to retrieve them.

Also, think of what your company could save in space by eliminating most of your file cabinets and the need for storage of hundreds of boxes of paper each year.

Save Time and Resources
There are all types of statistics as to the amount of time that is wasted by management and employees trying to locate files or documents that have been misplaced.

We know there is no way to completely get rid of all paper, but we have witnessed, both internally and with numerous customers, the savings and efficiencies gained by utilizing this technology.

Our company has been involved in this technology for quite a few years. It wasn’t until we had our first installation up and running and could see the tangible results in action that I was able to visualize the tremendous savings potential.

It was really eye-opening. Over a four-month period the customer was able to eliminate an entire five-drawer filing cabinet. These contained files on every sales order and was rotated on a six-month basis (the room was about 15-by-60 and up a flight of stairs from customer service). The real savings came in improved customer service. After about three months of usage, their customer service manager told me that he had gained at least five extra hours of productivity per day from his six inside service reps since they no longer had to take a call, then go find the related file (hopefully) and then play phone tag with the customer. Needless to say, the customers were much happier as well.

Automation is Simple
Many of the document imaging (DI) systems mirror the filing methods we have come to know and love over the years. The server running the software is the equivalent of electronic filing cabinets. Within these cabinets are electronic drawers which typically will be divided into logical business functions (sales orders, AP, AR, human resources, etc.) These drawers will then hold electronic folders that include the individual documents and files by certain criteria (sales order number, purchase order number, etc.).

An alternate to the traditional method is what we term a document/file tagging system. The difference with this is the flexibility of having one instance of the document, but unlimited tags and tag values that allow you to cross reference any document or file with multiple associations. For example, a customer fax of a complex door unit that is normally associated with the sales order can also have a purchase order tag added if the purchasing department wants to be able to view this in relation to any of that particular P.O.

The documents and files enter the DI system in several ways. They can be:
• Set automatically with the proper tags/folders by the business system when the documents are printed (shop tickets, invoices, statements, etc.);
• Scanned by someone who identifies the document and keys in the tag information (typically faxes from customers and vendors, handwritten notes, etc.);
• Scanned documents that are pre-printed with a bar code (delivery receipts) that automatically tags and stores the document;
• Rendered through the Windows print process of programs such as MS Word and Excel and then tagged without the need to print.

The good news is that many companies are taking advantage of some sort of document/file storage today. The beauty is that this technology lends itself to all aspects of your company. Once you get it in and running, you’ll wonder how your company ever survived without it.

Nick Carter is president of WoodWare Systems in Memphis, Tenn.


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