I have written about this topic many times in the past but the problems persist and the lesson is always the same. There are two key rules:
- If your system relies on people being 100% consistent and reliable it won’t work; and
- If your system places an additional workload on already busy workers it won’t work.
The message is, if you simplify and automate your system you give it the best possible chance of working.
If your system works as automatically as possible and doesn’t require much effort from your workforce then it has the best possible chance of being successful.
With today’s technology and tools there is simply no need to burden your workforce with capture and classification tasks. Do you still see people still using typewriters, rotary phones or Morse code? No, you don’t because there is much better technology available.
So why do you persist with an old, outdated and unsuccessful model? Why do you ask your staff to manually capture and classify electronic documents and emails when there are much better, much faster, much more consistent and much more reliable ways to achieve a better result? It is after all 2017, not 1917; we all use computers and smart phones now, not typewriters, wind-up rotary phones and Morse code.
Emails are managed by email servers, (yes, even Google). Email servers allow plug-ins and add-ons and are ‘open’ so you can automatically monitor and capture incoming and outgoing emails.
Electronic documents are always saved somewhere, for example on your shared drives or directly into your DMS. As such they can be captured and interrogated programmatically.
It is entirely possible to ‘parse’ any electronic document or email and its associated attributes and Metadata and make consistent decisions about whether or not to capture it and how to classify it when captured. It isn’t rocket science any more, it is just analysis, design and programming. We can go even further and determine who should be notified and what action(s) need to be initiated in response to each new email or electronic document.
We can easily implement an end-to-end business process whereby every electronic document and email is managed from creation to destruction and we can do this with minimal human involvement. Where human involvement is required, for example making a decision or deciding upon an appropriate response, we can also automate and manage the business processes required and simply ‘present’ staff with all the required information when required.
Isn’t this what the Knowledge Management revolution was supposed to be about?
“A system that provides the user with the explicit information required, in exactly the form required at precisely the time the user needs it.”
The new model is all about automation and processing at the server rather than at the user’s workstation; a fully automatic, server-centric paradigm. A system that is all about the ‘Push’ rather than the ‘Pull’ model. A model whereby the computer services the end user, where the end user is not a slave to the computer.
We could also call it management by exception. “Please only give me what I need to see when I need to see it.”
None of the above is new or revolutionary thinking, it is all just common sense. None of the above requires yet-to-be invented technology or products, it only requires existing and proven technology and products.
The fully-automatic, server-centric approach should be the default choice and it should be a no-brainer for any organization that needs to implement an email and document management regime. Unfortunately, too often it isn’t.
If you have the responsibility of rolling out an email and document management system and the fully-automatic, server-centric approach isn’t on your agenda then your boss should be asking you why not.