Everyone wants to go paperless (or, at least, paper-less) these days, but when it comes down to actually disposing of paper records, we should all strive to have practical, consistent processes that are supported by strong policies.
Bob Guz and Katherine Cranford from City of Austin presented a case study of their own organization’s structure, policy, and processes that support a strong records management program throughout the entire lifecycle. They began with a disclaimer: The development of policy and processes is most important, not necessarily getting into the fine details of exactly how records will be disposed. The various disposition methods might vary among departments, but it’s crucial that a local government have a comprehensive plan in place that is legally defensible and covers the full scope of records disposition.
They pointed out some of the common traits and types of digitization projects, which are often the result of cleaning out offices or the increasingly popular ‘paperless directive’ that comes from top management. These projects come with a lot of risks and liabilities that can be mitigated with a support system of procedures in place. By implementing strategies such as outlining disposition within city ordinances, requiring approval signatures prior to disposition, and having multiple layers of quality control checks, an organization can avoid potentially losing information during a well-intentioned digitization effort.
Their full presentation is available in PDF format on our e-Records information page.
“Digital Workflow Optimization and Automation” – Kumar Rachuri, Adobe
Those of us who work for the government are also customers of the government, and we know from our experiences outside of work that our technology and systems are often lagging behind private sector technology. Self-checkout is pretty common these days; skip the lines if you have 10 items or less! Wouldn’t it be great if we could have more conveniences like that when it comes to filling out government forms?
In his presentation, “Digital Workflow Optimization and Automation”, Mr. Rachuri highlighted the contrast between processes that aren’t yet automated vs. using systems and applications to improve efficiency. For instance, a city department might send out 2 million paper notices via snail mail – which would include the costs of paper, ink, envelopes, labor, etc – but instead, it might make more sense to simply switch to email notices. It’s common these days for businesses to provide incentives for paperless billing, and there are dwindling amounts of people without an email address or access to the Internet.
Interestingly, the use of PDF forms submitted electronically – which is a convenient alternative to plain paper forms – is actually now being overshadowed by the convenience and ease of using mobile apps to submit information electronically. Obviously, the development of apps in a government entity requires staff trained to create and manage that technology, but it’s a growing trend in the private industry, so it could become more common in government as well. Along with that sort of progress, governments might be able to save money, time, and resources going forward.
This is the fourth post of a multi-part recap of the 2016 e-Records Conference. Presentation materials from the conference are available on the e-Records 2016 website.
1. At the Intersection of Technology and Records Management
2. “Accessing the Texas Digital Archive” and “Enterprise Information Management in Sharepoint 2016”
3. “Process Mapping as a Best Practice” and “Email Redactions Made Easy”
4. “Case Study: Disposing of Paper Records After Scanning” and “Digital Workflow Optimization and Automation”
5. “Vendor Neutral Data Management and Record Retention” and “Records Management vs. #recordsmanagementrocks”