Turning toys into tools

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Date: Oct. 1991
From: Records Management Quarterly(Vol. 25, Issue 4)
Publisher: Association of Records Managers & Administrators (ARMA)
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,366 words

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The introduction of new technology into the business environment can cause a change in routines as well as players. To take you to a comfort zone between tyro and techno, the author looks at some basic issues in the imaging solution, including the role of the records manager.

The age of information has produced a paper explosion. U.S. business alone retains and retrieves 324 billion documents. This figure is increasing at a rate of 22 percent per year, and will double in less than four years. More people are required to manage information, retrieval is becoming slower, and storage space is costly. If you can't see the forest for the trees, maybe its time to do some housekeeping. (I wonder how many trees 324 billion paper documents represents?)

Filing cabinets occupy dismal locations because of their physical space requirements. I have heard file rooms unaffectionately labled "The Bunker"... "The Dungeon"... "The Crypt." Consideration must be given to the work environment and the people in it if maximum productivity is to be achieved.

You can conserve a lot of energy and resources through automation. However, most automation such as word processing, electronic mail, etc., handles less than 10 percent of the information we produce.

What impact would imaging have on the work environment? For starters, forty thousand images stored on one twelve inch platter means that you're out of the dungeon and into commodious quarters. Central management of digital files makes it easier to keep consistency in file locators, backup, retention schedules, and quality control Without leaving their desks, records managers can distributes information packages to users, quickly answer phone queries notorious for causing work flow bottlenecks, and even fax a copy of an image directly from the workstation. No more wasted time and energy searching for lost documents. This level of organization will undoubtedly improve your biggest competitive edge ... customer service.


Imaging can have a positive impact on business in many ways. If you have ever seen a live application, you know just how awesome this whole concept is. Unfortunately, there aren't very many live applications to be found and those who have one may not be chomping at the bit to show you their competitive edge. So how do you know that this technology is not another toy for the technocrats?

The technological side of imaging can be quite overwhelming. After all, it is built on years of research and development ... but so is records management. The two must work together in finding effective solutions. Input must be encouraged from vendors, information managers, records managers and users even in the early stage of project exploration. Co-operation, communication, and contribution between these groups are the building blocks necessary to achieve maximum benefit with minimum stress.

Each player has a key role in the imaging solution, and some roles may need to be re-defined. Some tasks may need to be combined or created. Communication within the organization will help to relieve apprehension and open the...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A11589787