Starting the paperless momentum has four primary advantages to an organization; it will improve knowledge and data management, it will increase data efficiencies; it will improve worker productivity and prepare the organization for the remote and mobile workforce environment.
The following are recommendations to reduce paper used by individual employees;
Reduce Desktop Printers: Employees who print electronic data create their own paper pile up. The easier and more convenient it is to print documents, the more likely it is that paper use will increase. One way to reduce paper use is to reduce individual and desktop printers. By making printing less convenient, employees begin to be more mindful before printing their data.
Improve User Skills on Managing Electronic Data: If users understand how to organize, file and manage data electronically well, then they will feel more comfortable keeping data electronically and will have fewer propensities to print it. Provide training and instruction to users on best practices of filing and organizing electronic data.
Improve User Knowledge on PDF Conversion and Use: Users need additional training on using PDF software. In particular how to merge and combine PDF documents, how to convert emails and other MS Office documents to PDF, how to extract/add pages into a PDF and how to make comments/notations. A large portion of paper printing is to re-scan in documents in a certain order, to remove or add pages or to add a copy of an email to an official paper file.
Implement e-signatures: Implement the use of signing documents electronically. Provide clear guidance and training on how to use and process e-signatures.
Automate Paper Processes: There are still paper-based processes (mainly with multiple signatures needed on a document) that could be automated and managed electronically. Identify those processes that require paper printouts and engage a productivity or IT consultant to suggest electronic alternatives.
Our research and experience suggest that leaders who are serious about addressing this challenge must stop thinking about time management as primarily an individual problem and start addressing it institutionally. Time management isn’t just a personal-productivity issue over which companies have no control; it has increasingly become an organizational issue whose root causes are deeply embedded in corporate structures and cultures.
When we asked nearly 1,500 executives across the globe2 to tell us how they spent their time, we found that only 9 percent of the respondents deemed themselves “very satisfied” with their current allocation. Less than half were “somewhat satisfied,” and about one-third were “actively dissatisfied.” What’s more, only 52 percent said that the way they spent their time largely matched their organizations’ strategic priorities. Nearly half admitted that they were not concentrating sufficiently on guiding the strategic direction of the business. These last two data points suggest that time challenges are influencing the well-being of companies, not just individuals.
Develop a ‘leadership time’ budget: allocate a percentage of time for each major project or initiative that requires leadership guidance and attention.
Consider ‘time’ when making organizational changes: when making structural and hierarchical changes to an organization, consider the ‘time’ factor managers have with direct reports.
Measure individuals’ time: conduct time analysis exercises to provide awareness of where executives and workers spend their time. This creates a baseline and a starting point for changing time allocations
Refine the master calendar: Review all meetings and calendars and make an assessment of which meetings support organizational goals/ initiatives. Also have a coding system of identifying reporting, problem solving, or decision type meetings.
Executives at the highest-performing organizations we’ve seen typically spend at least 50 percent of their time in decision meetings and less than 10 percent in reporting or information meetings.
5. Provide high quality administrative support: Provide executive leadership quality administrative support that understands where to allocate executives time.
Of those who deemed themselves effective time managers, 85 percent reported that they received strong support in scheduling and allocating time.The time pressures on senior leaders are intensifying, and the vast majority of them are frustrated by the difficulty of responding effectively. While executives cannot easily combat the external forces at work, they can treat time as a precious and increasingly scarce resource and tackle the institutional barriers to managing it well. The starting point is to get clear on organizational priorities—and to approach the challenge of aligning them with the way executives spend their time as a systemic organizational problem, not merely a personal one.
Taking on the task of reorganization and structure of the shared drive can be daunting. It is important to choose the right internal person to assist and manage this type of project. This type of project requires someone or a team to create user-friendly, standardized, comprehensive, and extensive file structure, taxonomy and data/record management guidelines.
Sometimes an organization delegates the project to entry level or administrative staff. However, with limited decision-making authority, these individuals are often hesitant to change, alter, move, or remove files and documents from the shared drive network. Further, without buy-in from all employees, revised structures developed by one staff often can end up to be a short-term solution and not long lasting.
It is important for organizations to train internal personnel, engage a team, or hire consultants who have IT knowledge and understanding along with a clear process of how to facilitate groups to develop guidelines and an electronic file structure that can last into the future. These project managers or consultants are essentially in organizing the project, facilitating the process and providing counsel on data management best practices.
It is recommended in choosing internal personnel as project managers or project team participants to have the following skills;
A good understanding of server systems and shared drive networks
Excellent group facilitation skills; with the ability to foster dialogue and gain group consensus
Strong organizational skills and the ability to create file hierarchical systems and taxonomy
Strong skill in navigating and using functions and tools in Microsoft Office, and in particular Windows Explorer
Good knowledge of file extensions.
Information management, technology and professional organizing consultants can provide the service that offers the expertise needed to develop shared electronic file guidelines and structure. To learn how to organize electronic files on the shared drive, download the report How to Organize Electronic Documents on Shared Drive Networks. Or you are welcome to contact us and we can assist you.
These file and folder utility system tools work with Windows Explorer and offer additional file management functionality that is not available in Windows Explorer. These tools can help to organize and manage electronic data.
Sky Juice Software: Sky Juice Software offers multiple products, including Quick File Rename and Fast Folder Rename, which allow users to rename multiple files or documents at one time. Folder Maker allows users to create multiple files and folders at one time automatically.
Folder Marker: Folder Marker Home allows users to change folder color or mark folders to indicate priority level and status.
Snag It: This software creates screen images or Print Screen features. It allows users to capture a screen shot, edit, and file it. This is a useful tool to capture file hierarchies in Windows Explorer.
Print File List Pro: Print File List Pro provides the ability to print a file directory within Windows Explorer. Windows Explorer does not offer a way to print or share file hierarchy structures.
Document or content management systems (DMS) are separate cloud-based systems that specifically manage electronic data and records. DMS systems are not only for large companies. Even in smaller offices, DMS systems can effectively help organizations file, store, search and collaborate on documents that need modification and/ or tracking. Although organizing the shared drive with an electronic file hierarchy structure and establishing clear guidelines is valuable, it does require more work to manage and maintain versus having data stored in a document/ content management system.
DMS systems have more robust functions of input, storage, search, and access of data than the mere file management tools that come on computers such as Windows Explorer. DMS systems allow users to find data not only through a file hierarchy structure. These systems have additional information related to a document such as keywords, categorization, and indexing, all of which make searching and finding data much easier. It also compresses data so that it has the ability to store significant numbers of documents in a smaller amount of space, increasing server efficiency. DMS systems also have auto-archive and auto-delete functions that make adhering to record retention and compliance guidelines instantaneous.
A common file repository in a document/content management system is an opportunity to create a consistent records management system that will provide the following benefits;
Create ease and simplicity for users to have one centralized system to manage official records and documents.
Improve accessibility permissions and ease of filing electronic documents and records through one centralized system that is cloud-based and accessible via mobile devices.
Documents and records are automatically indexed and increased searching functionality will be available.
Easier access to shared information and documents within the entire organization.
Easier management of records retention through increased system functionality and centralized data location to manage data.
Easier access to collaborate on documents, manage version control and access important information quickly through one centralized access point.
Lays the foundation for a paperless office by reducing official paper files and increase reliance and trust on one centralized electronic system.