The following is an article reprinted with permission from the Winter 2008 edition of The WWR Letter:
The Quest to Go Paperless
By: Rob Rutkowski, Esquire
Attorneys, like credit unions, generate a great deal of paper. Eliminating some of that paper would be very positive for both the lawyer and the credit union manager. To this end, I have recently started a quest to eliminate paper both in my office and at home.
While the scale is much different for an organization seeking to go paperless versus an individual, the goals are the same. It is not just about eliminating paper, although that is certainly worthwhile. It is about changing paper into something that is ultimately more useful than paper stored via traditional means. When you create an electronic document from a piece of paper, it must be searchable and it needs to be stored in folders that can be easily accessed later.
Nowadays, optical character recognition software has achieved a high level of accuracy. Thus for my own personal project, when I scan documents, they are converted into PDF files that are also searchable. Previously, when these documents were sitting in a file cabinet or on my credenza, they were less useful than they are now. Using a “digital” file cabinet full of documents that are searchable gives you access to all of your documents all the time. Things that you may not even remember that you have can be used again.
Fortunately, PDF files have shrunk in size. After scanning thousands of pages for my own personal project, my entire file cabinet of PDF files is only 280 MB. This takes up less than a quarter of a CD-ROM! I anticipate that I could scan every document that I have both at my office and at home and not even fill a single DVD. The data is portable, is well organized and is searchable. In short, it’s much more useful than traditional paper.
For an organization to make this leap it is a question of magnitude. Instead of thousands of pages to scan, it may be tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of pages. A personal scanner is not going to work in this sort of situation. The good news is that there are vendors that can help with the software and the equipment necessary to run such an operation.
I am just at the beginning of my paperless quest. I still have questions about security and backing up my data. I’m sure that there are things I have not yet even considered. There always are. This, however, will be the stuff of future articles.
Robert Rutkowski is the Managing Partner of WWR’s Credit Union department. Based in the Brooklyn Heights operations center, he can be reached at (216) 739-5004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.