There’s a great post over on Mashable – 5 Simple Tools for a Paperless Office. It’s really a great cheat sheet on how to use some really cool, useful software and online services to reduce paper and become more efficient, but I found myself reading it and thinking about the clients that I’ve worked with over the past ten years. These are all very cool tools, but I don’t think that they’re going to really take you any closer to a paperless office.
More importantly, not one of them is going to ensure that you’ll actually be able to FIND something when you go to look for it. And therein lies the problem facing businesses today. Document Management tools have some fantastic bells, whistles, and doodads, but do any of them actually do anything useful?? Honestly, out of the whole list presented, the mention of Google Apps for Business at the footnote is probably the most useful of all of the items.
Google Apps for Business is missing one key component, however. They still have added the viewer. Plug Google's fancy document viewer (you know, the one they use for Google books), into Google apps and bam! – Now you’ve really got a solution for a Paperless Office. You’d be able to tag metadata, search, and view documents from anywhere that there’s a browser.
Except… There’s no audit trails. There are still no annotation capabilities. There’s no really great, easy way to efficiently scan large volumes of documents to Google Apps. Perhaps most importantly, the more consumer-like these tools become, the biggest thing that’s missing isn’t feature functionality- it’s guidance and best practices. Scanning files isn’t hard. It’s preparing them for scanning, indexing them, and making sure that people can find them that makes it difficult.