The OfficeScope Spotlight

The Paperless Central Office: Myth or Reality?

By: Jon Lincoln, Vice President,  OfficeScope

The reality is schools are mired in paper records. With everythi ng from faculty records to IEP’s to vendor invoices filed in hundreds of manila folders. When the process of filing paper started decades ago it might not have seemed like a problem. Although, as time has progressed the mountain of documents has only grown and for many districts has be­ come unmanageable.

Each time a file is requested. oftice workers engage in an almost endless game of “hide-and-seek” in an effort to re­ trieve the document from cabinets that are housed in dingy, dusty basements or over-stuffed closets. Even worse if a document is misplaced it could take days or even weeks to find  it.

But how much paper are we tal king about? The EPA estimates the typical office worker tears through I 0,000 sheets of copy paper each year. To make matters worse many school districts will receive documents already in electronic fonnat (such as CORI reports as PDF’s) only to print  them on paper .

Finding a solution to archive paperless records has become something school districts should consider and with the fast pace of technology advancements there are many options to choose from. Whether you are looking for a cloud-based system or something stored on your local servers. Low priced software with simple features or a more expensive enter­ prise solution with advanced capture methods. Whatever your budget may be there is sure to be a better way to archive documents than with paper.

THE COST OF DOING NOTHING

The biggest challenge for any school district is change when the same thing has been done for years. It’s “easy” to do nothing. It’s easy to do the same process that has existed since the dawn of time. Although, there IS a cost of doing nothing. Consider these:

  • How much money does your district spend to print documents for the sole purpose of archiving the paper record? The cost of paper, ink, folders, cabinets, staples, paper clips and other items quickly add. These needless  expenses often far outweigh  the  total cost of an electronic filing system.
  • How efficient are your office workers? How much is it costing you to pay office workers to file and search for documents that could be done in a fraction of the time with an electronic filing system? It’s not un­common for organizations that go paperless to see efficiency gains by up to 30%. This ultimately gives em­ployees more time to work on other tasks.
  • How secure are your documents? What happens if there is a fire or flood? What happens if an employee simply puts a document in the wrong place? What security measures are taken to keep people out of a cabinet or closet? Paperless filing offers many different security methods, such as, document encryption, user pennis­ sion-based access, goo-redundant backup and analytics tools to have transparency on every action an employee takes.
  • What does the future look like? The longer documents are filed as paper, the larger the problem gets. With physical space already at a premium for most districts where will all this paper go? Some districts have even started renting self-storage units or paying companies to store paper for By going paperless school districts will solve the paper problem instead of trying to hide it.
  • Is it time to “Go Green?” It’s not a secret that we should be aware of how our actions are impacting the environment. By continuing to file paper records districts are needlessly contributing to the environmental problem. Moving to a paperless filing structure is one more step towards going going green.

Many industries, such as, insurance, medical , legal, financial institutions and others have been keeping paperless rec­ords for well over a decade. Even extremely government regulated  industries, such as Hospitals, have gone  paperless.

It may be time for school districts to start looking into the many ways to reduce their ”paper  problem.”

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