Impulse Digital Transformation

Chasing the Dream of a Paperless Office

Estimated Reading Time: 8 Minutes

by Thomas Seibold

Man buried under a pile of paper

The idea of the “Paperless Office” is already more than 45 years old. George E. Pake, then head of Xerox PARC, first coined the term in a Business Week article on June 30th, 1975. Since then, a lot has happened in the development of corresponding ECM and DMS applications for managing and archiving documents.

When it comes to digitization, many companies made up for existing shortcomings, especially last year (see the encouraging results of the current Bitkom Digital Office Index 2020). But what no one expected in 2020 was the Corona pandemic. The dream of a (virtually) paperless office has since turned into a nightmare in many companies: employees went into home offices, the business premises were deserted. Nevertheless, the document-based processes had to continue – and they had to be GDPR- and GoBD- (Principles for properly maintaining, keeping and storing books, records and documents in electronic form and for data access) compliant.

Legally compliant in the Paperless Office?

Even if a company already had its day-to-day digitization business under control via an on-premises ECM/DMS solution, it was faced with a completely new challenge against the backdrop of virtually deserted offices: It was often necessary to provide employees in the home office with legally compliant access to data from one day to the next.

In many companies, however, such a case was often not foreseen in the digitization concept and in the ECM/DMS solution – and in some cases still is not today.

Document management on-premises and in the cloud

Audit-proof, legally compliant and also archiving in the cloud? Only a few of the available ECM and DMS systems are able to balance these requirements. Usually, they are only available in a pure “on-premises” version. This means that the respective application was designed for strictly local use. It traditionally runs on a server that is firmly integrated into the company’s hardware and software infrastructure. Users access the application via a dedicated client.

If more resources are required – whether for space and/or performance reasons – the hardware in the basement must be upgraded accordingly. In terms of maintenance, the internal or externally commissioned IT support is required: This must keep the server and application up to date at all times, including updates – and preferably “invisibly” in the sense of uninterrupted maintenance windows outside office hours.

Woman meditating while confronted with several documents

A different approach to paperless document management

Cloud-based ECM and DMS systems take a different approach. They only require a standard PC with a current browser. Users can log in via the browser and conveniently complete their daily tasks. It doesn’t matter whether this is done in the office, from home or on the road. An encrypted connection guarantees the necessary security in any case. Moreover, neither the user nor the company need to worry about system maintenance: This is done directly by the service provider, who is responsible for hosting the server and software.

By the way, cloud-based in this context does not mean that the data is processed abroad. With corresponding software as a service offers from German providers, it is guaranteed that the server is located in Germany and the operation meets local regulations and expectations.

Another major advantage is the fast availability: SaaS document management services such as yuuvis® Impulse by OPTIMAL SYSTEMS provide all core functions for the audit-proof and legally compliant management of documents “ready-to-run”. A subscription model on a monthly basis ensures manageable and predictable costs, and the number of users is not limited.

The following DMS core functions are available:

  • Creation of a user-specific filing structure, based on folders and documents of different types
  • Import of documents from subdirectories
  • Batch import via drag-and-drop
  • Free storage of documents via drag-and-drop including manual entry of associated information (metadata) and classification
  • Drag-and-drop storage of e-mails, with all mail-typical data automatically extracted and inserted into form fields
  • Efficient and fast search through automatic full-text indexing and supplementary technical metadata
  • Support of processing through assignment to employees, processing notes, resubmissions and status monitoring
  • Traceability of processing through versioning and access history
  • Document display for manual and technical metadata as well as previews
  • Protection against unauthorized access or accidental deletion through an authorization system

The bottom line

All these functions turn a cloud-based ECM/DMS system into an interesting proposition, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. This way, these companies can take better care of their core competencies and become more independent in organizing their IT. The advantages of this digitized document handling make the Paperless Office an achievable and lucrative goal. And they position companies perfectly for future challenges.