Beware of the Paperless Office

115033318Some three decades ago, the mantra was to go paperless. This was to be the office of the future. I remember working at a high tech company then, when the order went out to go paperless, only to find out that the information that everyone was supposed to be on top of was not being actively monitored. With computer files at one’s fingertips, it seemed like a waste of time, paper and money to print things out when they could be brought up on one’s screen at any time in a much more efficient manner. In actuality, the transition from paper to electronic document management did not solve the problem to quickly find the documents needed.

Fast forward to today. Many people still do not review what is not printed out for their inspection in hard copy. To get everyone’s attention, they need to be on the proverbial same page. I recently experienced this at a meeting with one of my clients. We were going over delinquent accounts receivable payments, but not everyone was seeing the problem in the same way. Some people were focusing on a problem client they were responsible for, another person was working with the bank to increase the line of credit without knowing the dynamic growth of A/R and another was focused on something else entirely.

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The problem was being paperless; there were no aged accounts receivable reports printed out so everyone could see the same document with notes. They could discuss what was happening: who was in each of the 10-30, 31-60, 61-90 and 90+ DSO categories. Nor was there any prior report to compare to and see whose A/R was rising, who was slipping from one category to the next and what action was being taken from the comments section.

We then made the decision to go back to paper. We went from everyone operating independently to working efficiently together at each meeting, discussing red flags, monitoring their progress, prioritizing their actions, bringing down their DSO and living within their LOC. While going paperless seems like a good idea, some people really do need to have actual hard copy of important documents in order to be productive.

Michael Neidle

Michael Neidle
Michael Neidle is president and CEO of Optimal Management, an advisor to staffing firm owners and managers.

Michael Neidle

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