What has changed to make the paperless office a reality?!

The paperless back office has long been dreamed of but just hasn’t happened!  The cost-benefit just hasn’t been there in terms of ease of use and practicality.  Here are my thoughts on why the world is now poised to finally see the paradigm shift happen!

  1. First let me point why I think it has taken so long to come about!  PDF just doesn’t work!   Everyone was waiting to see what electronic document format would be the defacto standard and everyone thought Adobe’s PDF format would be it.  Problem- slow to open (time a 1 page PDF versus 1 page jpg or gif), or the dilemma of opening whole file or just first pages (practicality of Accounts Payable), scanning challenges (what if pg 51 and 52 went together you have to scan the whole pdf again), try to name a pdf document while it is open…good luck!,  what if page 51 is upside down (pdf doesn’t have page by page rotation), open source… sure there are many pdf creator apps now… but they are not all fully compatible.  
  2. Solution- Image Documents– Fast to open (small file sizes without sacrificing quality), resulting ease of use, view and name editing capability, everyone has digital cameras and are extremely familiar with working with images,   The biggest problem with this is 1 file is one image (multipage-tiff being the exeption) so file management just doesn’t work or so you might think.  Surprise, surprise, software can solve this problem…welcome to QCDocs!
  3. Fraudulent Documents– Early concerns over the editability of electronic documents created a perceived “auditor” pre-occupation with fraud problems.     Again Adobe appeared to be the defacto standard to address this problem.  Practically everyone has come to realize that creating a manually fraudulent document is equally if not easier then with electronic documents and again there is a division between legal documents and electronic copies versus originals that is of course preserved in the paperless world. 
  4. Stability of Windows– So all your documents are saved on your computer.  Well the days of Windows crashing posed a considerable dilemma… this has been for the most part resolved.
  5. Big harddrives and system backups.   Storage of documents is no longer a concern… especially with 200-300 dpi image documents and ease of storage and search!
  6. Dual monitor videocards and LCD’s–  Ahhh yes plenty of room for two monitors- one for viewing documents and one for working in your legacy system!
  7. Scanners– Fujitsu well done!  Scansnaps should be in every small business office everywhere! Although they are still married to pdf… they slipped in JPG- well done!   HP, Brother, Epson, etc. multi-functionalprinter/scanners with multi-doc feeds and Twain scanner functionality… of course it is everywhere although get your default settings to accomodate office documents not only high res pictures of the family!!
  8. Online connectivity!  In my mind the piece that clearly shatters the cost/benefit divide is the connectivity of the paperless office to the internet!  Coupled with online banking security protocols this innovation enables the distributed workforce, telecommuting, outsourcing, mobile salesforce, mobile operations, distributed offices, global commerce to truly evolve.   It also enables the re-invention of the “ERP” by reversing the workflow… a concept I leave for next time!

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