Q&A With eCopy's Bill Brikiatis: How Smaller Businesses Can Move Closer to the Paperless Office
The paperless office hasn't yet been achieved, but there are new technologies that can push smaller businesses closer to the goal, saving them time, money, and resources. Bill Brikiatis explains to bMighty how smaller businesses can easily get there
A smaller business that reduces its use of paper saves money, time, and natural resources. While a truly paperless office is still far off in the future, new technologies are bringing smaller businesses closer to the goal. bMighty spoke to Bill Brikiatis of eCopy, a document imaging software vendor, on how small and midsize businesses can effectively take paper out of much of their workflow and speed their processes at the same time.
bMighty: Many smaller businesses are using scanned e-mails from their multifunction printers in their efforts to use less paper. What should they be aware of?
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Bill Brikiatis: One of the key issues is security. The problem with using resident scanning software on an MFP [multifunction printer] is it limits the ability to keep the document secure. Also, when e-mail comes from the copier, people mistake it for spam and it doesn't get put in the send file, so there's no audit trail of who sent what, when, and where.
bMighty: What else can smaller businesses do with their MFPs?
Bill Brikiatis: Scanned e-mail is the tip of the iceberg. More and more organizations want to scan to other business applications, devices. One example is with Microsoft SharePoint. [There is software available so] if you scan a document, you can put it the Microsoft SharePoint site and then you can collaborate. For example, a construction company needs everyone to see documents from the client. But an MFP can't get it directly to SharePoint. The user would have to scan to a folder, then open the folder to send it to SharePoint. But either the user will forget to do it and it's a more cumbersome process.
There are a lot of different organizations that use CRM-type systems for managing relationships through software, like insurance brokers. As documents come in, they scan them and distribute to electronic form to distribute to the file folders. Or the employee opens a record for a new client and the application needs to be signed, so they e-mail it to the client. The client signs it and faxes it back. That increases the speed of the transaction. The broker has all the necessary information from the carrier and can move quickly and e-mail right away. Paperless speeds up transactions. It gives organizations a competitive advantage.
bMighty: What advantages do small and midsize businesses have in the effort to go paperless?
Bill Brikiatis: Small and midsize businesses have some significant advantages over larger businesses when it comes to moving to a more paperless existence. Of course, it's a fallacy to think anyone can do away with paper completely. But there's less IT bureaucracy in a small or midsize business. In a larger organization, to bring in new applications, you need to go through reviews, checks, processes, approvals. Small and midsize businesses can be much more nimble with IT projects.
Also, in larger organizations, the resources can mask problems in processes. For example, a large telecom provider had subpoenas and needed to turn over billing records. It used a paper process because the company had enough temps to go through all the paper and do it manually. It didn't have to get creative. It had the resources to maintain the paper processes. Small and midsize businesses can't afford that.
The real difficulty is when small and midsize businesses have parallel workflows -- one electronic and one paper. They can't afford to maintain both. Many law firms have paper file records of correspondence and then for electronic correspondence they have electronic workflow. When a client wants to talk about an issue, the lawyer needs to look through his e-mails and then looks through the filing cabinet. He needs to call the client back. It only resides on paper. The solution is to go electronic. It's hard for paper-intensive businesses -- but when some [records] are on file and some are electronic and you don't know where it is, it's double the search time. And it's not just in the legal industry, it's also the construction industry.