Conquering the paper mountain

Conquering the paper mountain

Ask project manager, Chris Wayland, what was the hardest part in hooking up Monash University to a document management system and he'll tell you it was staff reluctance to change and their inability to coordinate across faculty departments.

Wayland, an independent consultant for nLiven, helped Melbourne-based Monash University adopt a streamlined survey management system. Over several months, the university implemented forms-processing application software and Canon scanners.

"It wasn't the actual IT adoption, but getting the faculties to talk to each other and share information. It was a real cultural shift," Wayland said.

"It was a pretty divested environment with 10 faculties: five were using one system, and five were doing whatever they liked. The university didn't have a clear picture of how to capture student feedback."

With the new streamlined system, the university, which has 56,000 students across six Australian campuses and two international campuses, has said goodbye to a survey process that was time-consuming and labour-intensive.

"Data quality, survey governance and coordination have all been improved, while the cost of survey development and processing have been markedly reduced, along with distribution, collection and processing times," Wayland said.

Seeing benefits

Monash is not alone in its pursuit of document management (DM) solutions, which can file, update and track documents circulating in an office. Many organisations across different verticals are starting to see the power and benefits of streamlining documents and improving workflow processes.

By electronically capturing, storing and organising document and information, users can get immediate access to critical information when it's needed, RuleBurst deputy CEO, Mark Stanley, said.

"Whether the organisation needs to manage regulated content, policies, procedures, work instructions, job descriptions or job safety analysis, the smooth and efficient flow of business documents is critical for success," he said.

But in many enterprises, the information is trapped in stacks of paper or fragmented in silos. Many companies are reluctant to change.

"Manual ad-hoc processes create inefficiency, confusion, and costly delays as workers waste time searching for or recreating critical information," Stanley said. "Organisations can become overwhelmed as the demands of regulatory bodies continue to increase the complexity and costs of managing this information.

"While there is significant effort expended in writing documents, there is an arguably bigger effort in distributing and maintaining their accuracy and relevance to the business as working environments change and restructure."

As such, Stanley said adopting a DM system was far more than introducing a database for unstructured content. Rather, it was an enterprise platform that could address every stage of the document lifecycle from creation and capture, through management and delivery, to final archival and storage.

Tower Software Asia-Pacific general manager, Geoff Moore, said implementing DM systems was more of a cultural challenge than a technology one.

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