By Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft
I’ll admit that sometimes I like to watch cheesy, B movies from the SyFy channel. Most of them follow the same script – some greedy corporation or government scientists make a mistake and suddenly we have oversized snakes, sharks, or some other creepifying animal terrorizing an island or a city.
I write this because for some government departments, it feels like a science experiment gone wrong and paper is piling up everywhere, terrorizing the office. The shelves keep expanding, the boxes keep multiplying, and the mounds of paper that have to be processed and stored are ready to drive workers out of the office screaming onto the streets.
In Part 1 of this series, 6 Ways ECM Can Help Government Overcome Challenges, we looked at the power that comes when your department or office transitions to a digital workflow to manage the work. Here we’re talking about those paper dragons and how to slay them.
Reducing paper is one of the first considerations that opens the door for people yelling “help!” But before you run into the arms of the first dashing archiving software hero to knock on your door, you must think beyond that moment when your immediate problem is solved. That brave hero might be great at slaying paper dragons and archiving digitized documents but could become an awful life partner because he or she doesn’t possess the workflow skills required for a long-term partnership. You might want to check out our infographic before saying “I do.” You want to settle down, not settle for.
Back to paper dragons.
Reducing the amount of paper we use is a worthy goal for any government agency. Most people don’t think of the overall cost of living in a paper-based environment because the tools we use to deal with paper are so ingrained in our psyche.
For instance, consider the tens of thousands of dollars to purchase and maintain a few copy machines and then add the costs to feed those monsters with toner and paper each month. Frequently, you have to stick your hands into their jaws to remove paper cavities. If you have four or five of these medium-sized units around the office in their second or third generation, you have likely already bought and paid for an ECM system, like OnBase, to store your documents.
How Much Does Your Storage Cost?
The other cost is obvious – storage. If you have fifty shelves or filing cabinets at $1,500 apiece, that’s $75,000 or more depending on which unit you’re using. If you’re a county or city, imagine what that storage cost looks like across all your departments. You just bought another ECM system.
And then there is office space. Where do you put all your workers? Are you thinking that you have to build another building or move to a larger office in the next few years to house both your staff and your paper? Now you’re faced with options of a budget challenge to justify spending millions on a new building because you’ve outgrown the old one, spending hundreds of thousands on new office leasing, or searching online for double-decker cubicles because things are getting tight. Not only can an ECM system reduce your storage requirements, but with workflow automation, it can increase your processing capacity without increasing your headcount. That’s pretty powerful.
Getting a handle on headcount increases and real estate are your two biggest budget items. An ECM helps avoid the challenge of too much government at the end of the money.
Backing Up the Back Up
But there is one more storage cost to consider – backup. To protect against the loss from fire, flood, earthquake, or other catastrophe, it’s not unusual to send off the original to an off-site storage facility while the staff makes photocopies of files to keep on hand. That’s a tremendous number of hours spent by your staff to reduce risk or to have convenient access. And if the only copies of your documents are the ones in a file cabinet, then you need to assess the risk and cost if critical records are lost and you need to recover them. Think land records, executed contracts, invoices, warranties, receipts, tax documents, reports, and any other document where no electronic version exists.
An ECM system with a good backup strategy eliminates the need to create copies for off-site transport and storage. In the event of a disaster, you can recover files much quicker with little to no loss of data. And potentially shield yourself from expensive lawsuits.
The point of reducing paper with an ECM solution is to increase efficiency, access and redundancy so that you can drive out those paper monsters and the machine that feeds them. And leave the real monsters to the SyFy channel.
Where are you seeing too much paper in your office?
Coming in Part 3: Increasing Transparency