"IN 1981, THEY SAID THE computer would eliminate paper," Jarret Silagyi observes. "Obviously, that has not happened."
It's obvious to Silagyi because he's in the business of dealing with all of the paper that has not vanished--the business of document management. He is general manager of Cintas Document Management in Indianapolis, and it's his job to help companies find a better way to handle documents, share them, store them and dispose of them.
"Take the whole notion of going paperless and let go of it," advises Jeff Nelson, vice president of Bolt Document Management in Elkhart. "You're not going to be able to make it all go away. So don't make paperless a mandate--make it a goal. You want to be paper-efficient."
While the computer has not made paper a thing of the past, it certainly has helped in the business of managing documents. In fact, though the industry was once focused primarily on giant warehouses stacked to the rafters with numbered file boxes, these days much of the activity revolves around computers and scanners. And it's not just a matter of scanning and safely storing old documents anymore, either, Nelson says. "People today are dealing not only with back files but also the live records," he says.
That means having easy access to current documents, the ability to add to them and modify them, and the means to distribute them easily and securely to other people. This is, after all, document management and not just document storage. By loading documents into a sophisticated, computer-based management system, it becomes easier not only to retrieve old, stored documents, but also to share them while they're being created, says Silagyi. "A law firm in California, Chicago and New York working on the same case can access the same files electronically."
While cost and environmental concerns are encouraging many businesses to print documents less frequently, that doesn't mean people have cut back on creating them, says Jim Fall, vice president of Cannon IV in Indianapolis. "There has been an explosion of information and electronic documents. Even though a smaller percentage of documents is being printed, there are many more documents being created," he says. In fact, "paper usage is still growing by double digits, and is expected to keep growing."
When you're talking document management, what passes for a document these days is a lot more than just a stack of letter-size papers. Nelson refers to it as "unstructured...