The Dangers of Filing Cabinets: What Goes In Doesn’t Come Out

Thumbnail image for pile-of-paper.jpgWhen you file a lot of documents (the word “a lot” kept vague as it’s relative) one of the hardest things is FINDING the documents you have filed.
Whether you put paper documents in traditional folders or metal cabinets or you save documents to a central file server, do you know where you filed the memo that’s 4 months old or 4 years old. Can the new employee easily find the document in your maze of filing cabinets or dozens (or hundreds) of folders on your file server?
Using a free desktop search tool from Google, Microsoft or Yahoo can help find documents on file servers but documents stored in filing cabinets can get lost if not filed meticulously.
A document manage tools can help you not only find documents, but help you find them quickly. Instead of flipping through folders and folders of files you can search for a document based on attributes your define, such as last name, contract number, and other things. Right from your desk you can then see the document on your screen, or print it out!
A document management solution is something that every business should at least look into, especially paper intensive businesses.
For those who already have a documents, you’re journey into becoming a digital environment will be different than those who are starting fresh, as you’ll have to spend time scanning, tagging and indexing your documents into the document system.
“The sheer volume of documents circulated on a daily basis is forcing businesses to reassess their enterprise content management needs,” said David Smith, vice president, DocuShare Business Unit, Xerox Corporation. “The DocuShare Virtual Filing System, a one stop ECM shop, provides the analysis, tools and training to effectively transform large volumes of paper documents into digital format – opening the door to a more productive workplace and significant savings.”
John Gonzales, director of product management for Xerox’s DocuShare Business Unit helps us understand more about Xerox DocuShare in the interview below:

I’m sure costs will vary from customer to customer but can you give us a sense of the costs one could expect
The entry-level package of Virtual Filing System is priced to sell between $50,000 and $60,000. This package is all-inclusive, and provides DocuShare licenses, a high-speed scanner, a complete capture software solution, and a roster of Professional Services for analysis, installation, configuration, and training. A midsized company may be the most likely customer for this offering because they have often accumulated significant paper files, but many smaller companies of 50 employees or less are also challenged by paper overload.
What are some average implementation scenarios?
The Virtual Filing System is designed so that a company is completely set up within about two weeks with a digital Filing System customized to their business and documents. The Professional Services package includes two days off-site and five days at the customer site to perform the required analysis and implementation. The team analyzes the company’s current filing system and structure, sets up a customized scanning system, and DocuShare “file cabinet,” and trains company employees how to use the solution to scan in, organize, and retrieve their documents. The customer is then ready to scan in legacy files. After accomplishing this conversion from paper to digital filing, the company will have a fully indexed and organized document repository, along with means to quickly search, view, and share those documents.
The Professional Services also sets the customer up for “day-forward” scanning of documents on a day-to-day basis.
Who installs the system?
DocuShare Virtual Filing System is installed by a Professional Services team, who also do special customization of the scanning system and the DocuShare user interface. The goal is that after the package of seven consulting days (typically two off-site and five on-site), the customer will have a fully enabled VFS installation.
What are the differences between a company with thousands of documents in file cabinets vs one starting fresh in a digital environment?
Few companies do not have some dependency on paper. A small company may start with a mostly-digital environment, but still needs to deal with paper documents coming from outside vendors, partners, customers, and others. In many cases these hard copy documents have to be saved for legal reasons. Customer documents, such as insurance claims, sales contracts or other signed agreements, also must be easily accessible to respond promptly to customer requests or issues. It’s easy to see why after even a couple years, a company has accumulated file cabinets or other physical filing systems.
For a company with thousands of existing documents, there is often a need to reference historical documents in the course of business. In these cases, it is important that those pre-existing documents be stored and indexed in a way than they can be found. The “paper-based” solution to this is to put them into a filing cabinet. With VFS, we capture all of the “intelligence” embodied in the physical organization of a filing cabinet, and add to that the ability to search for and find documents using other criteria and index values. If an organization is “starting fresh” with no legacy documents to consider, then they will want to add information to inbound documents that facilitates moving those documents through a business process. For instance, they may want to add a “Current Review Status” field or even an “Document Expiration Date” field to a document – think of all of those things are often handled with yellow sticky notes or small routing slips. Also, in the “fresh start” scenario (often called “day forward scanning”) there is a greater opportunity to distribute the scanning activities and embed them into the business workflow – either at the desks of individuals, or (more often) through using a multi-function peripheral or even a fax server to scan or capture documents as they come into the organization. In these cases, the physical paper is recycled or archived and not needed to complete the work.

2 thoughts on “The Dangers of Filing Cabinets: What Goes In Doesn’t Come Out

  1. Miles Technologies

    Document Management solutions are a great way for businesses to increase efficiency, maintain regulatory compliance, and improve customer satisfaction. In addition to increasing productivity, these solutions can save businesses money over the long run, as they limit the use of paper and the costs associated with maintaining printers, copiers, and fax machines

  2. Tom S

    Great article. Along this same topic, I ran across a great book by David Allen called, Getting Things Done, the art of stress-free productivity. It completely changed my organization of emails on Outlook. It made total sense and was very logical. I would highly recommend it to anyone that is buried in emails and has a hard time organizing.

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