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Managing documents at the source

There are plenty of benefits in an improved document workflow, says Neville Lia.

I often meet people at various organisations interested to know about document management software and telling me that they have been planning to do something about their documents for years. They know the key benefits of going paperless: a digital archive is more effective in the storage and retrieval of information and you also get better control of the data in digital format as against controlling paper documents in terms of security and reporting. But the question is, from where do you start?

Any business would tell you there is still quite a substantial amount of documents received by post, such as bank statements, utility bills, supplier invoices, and client-related documents, just to mention a few.

But you might be surprised at how much paper is generated in-house. Depending on the business, one might have a need to print a document to get it signed by a customer, or authorised by a superior, or simply to be able to read and add comments.

There are multiple electronic solutions to each of these examples, from digital signatures and electronic workflows to document version control. But as much as you try to introduce policies and procedures, you will still find that in-house printing tends to be abused over time and inevitably there will be extra paper being generated which won’t necessarily be needed.

If you ever had the experience of working in an office environment, without doubt you would have come across situations where there are uncollected printouts at the main office printer and no one would know who printed them. There would also be situations where certain documentation is printed multiple times by different people, who would not realise that a colleague would have printed the document already. On other occasions, in large organisations there will be documents being sent to the wrong floor printer unintentionally, and the user would then reprint the document once they notice that the original print command ‘did not work’.

These scenarios raise two very important points for consideration. These documents can be quite substantial, such as an audit report or survey results. Volumes of paper, printing toner as well as the wear and tear of the printing equipment is being wasted. Although most of the time this goes unnoticed, if you had to monitor and calculate the costs that the company is spending on this waste over let’s say a year, one can be in for an unpleasant surprise.

The second issue arises from the fact that such documents, which may have very sensitive information, can end up in the wrong hands especially in environments where the printing equipment is not dedicated to a particular user, such as a floor printer where multiple departments within an organisation may use. Typically you will find these printers located in corridors, or print station areas accessible by practically anyone.

Streamline NX by Ricoh is a software made up of document management applications that work seamlessly together to enable organisations control their entire document workflows. It offers five applications that are integrated to improve document visibility, interaction and usage:

It’s estimated that six per cent of an average company’s revenue is spent processing documents

One functionality is the scan and fax manager: documents can be scanned from any multi-functional product, then faxed, e-mailed or stored. By automating processes and reducing reliance on hard copies, productivity is boosted and the risk of human error greatly reduced.

With secure print manager, print jobs are stored on a server and can only be collected by the person (or a designated other) who sent them to print. They can pick it up on any networked device within the organisation, whether it’s on-premises or another company site, even in a different country.

The authentications and accounting manager is an integrated identification system that can restrict access to MFP functions. It enables IT administrators to define user access to different printing functions, folders and workflows. This enhances security and reduces instances of documents being uploaded to the wrong workflows. Streamline NX can also use companies’ pre-existing ID cards and database infrastructure. The report generator function provides organisations with much greater visibility of what is being printed, by whom, how much they’re printing and which devices they’re using. These reports can then be used to identify further efficiencies and make cost savings across the business.

Another function is the administration manager. This enables total control of all MFPs and printers from a single interface. IT administrators can monitor and audit devices, batch-configure them, and install upgrades simply and quickly.

They can also set and implement central policies irrespective of device location.

Some six per cent of an average company’s revenue is spent processing documents. Also, as much as 20 per cent of the working week is spent searching for, or recreating documents, making the benefits of an improved document workflow obvious.

Streamline NX helps companies reduce costs as rules can be set, and policies enforced, to ensure print volumes are reduced without impacting the business’ needs. These rules can include black and white, duplex printing and print quotas. Users can also cancel jobs on their individual print queue at the device, while uncollected documents sent to print can be automatically deleted without being actually printed.

With the General Data Protection Regulation enforcement to be introduced next year, organisations will be required to confirm that they have a policy to control the printing of customer information. Streamline NX tackles this by requiring prints to be confirmed, so there is no chance of documents being picked up by the wrong person. It also ensures scanned documents are always sent to the right folders or workflows; and only authorised personnel can access them. And as every interaction is recorded, businesses have an audit trail making it easier to achieve compliance.

Managing documents with an organisation often requires a change in culture within the daily practices that have for long now settled in as standard procedures. There is often no one product software that will resolve everything and an organisation may require a particular solution, while another organisation would need another or a mix of products to effectively address their document management requirements. SG Solutions has the right products and expertise to show you from where to start managing your documents.

Neville Lia is senior software specialist at SG Solutions, with a focus on document management systems. For more information call 2144 2123.

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