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It is known by everybody that Finance and Administration departments in a company are the ones which accumulate more papers and documents. It is already a classic image the one of an office full of shelves loaded with thousands of files, which in many cases are only able to handle and understand by the employee who works in that place. Imagine what happens when that person is fired, or resigns or simply moves to another post.
I definitely believe that we are in a New Era, in which our office could be anywhere and the information and documents should be available as well. So it is about high time that we move forward.
Firstly, I see it clear that a real change of habits must be performed. This change must be started by the managers but it has to be followed by all the members of the team. Which new habits are required?
- Stop storing physic documents: we have to scan those documents we want to save and throw away the original, with the only exception of official documents (i.e. tax returns, stamped contracts…). We should encourage our documents providers that they only send them in digital format.
- Have a clear organization system: since the beginning we have to decide how the documents are organized so that not only us but other members in the team can find them easily. Using standard rules, as suggested by Lean methodology, can be extremely helpful.
Secondly, we have to develop a work environment which enables and develops the change:
- Test and change, if necessary, the workflow. When you do this, you may discover that some documents which always ended on your desk could be elsewhere. By implementing clear and new procedures everybody is responsible for his documents.
- Use new tools: in most cases scanners are required. In some others it could be advisable to purchase a program to manage the documents. But be careful, my personal experience is that those programs can be very expensive. Calculate the return before making that investment.
In conclusion, we should leave the papers behind. Now there are no excuses to continue accumulating papers. I have decided to do so and in the medium term I expect to reduce dramatically the amount of papers on my desk.