One of the basic elements of ensuring the effectiveness of any management mechanism is documentary support, or, using familiar terms, a document management system. Modern technologies make it possible to organize a completely paperless exchange of documents, however, in practice, electronic documents often act as twins of paper documents. About the reasons hindering the introduction of computer workflow, and what software solutions allow it to be implemented, read in this article.
Workflow automation can be divided into four types: paper workflow, paper workflow using stand-alone PCs, mixed workflow and paperless workflow.
Paper workflow means that all stages of the document takes place in paper form. A decade and a half ago, this type of workflow was the only one. To register paper documents, journals were used – ledgers or sheets of large format, into which newly registered documents fit. After a certain period of time, magazines and sheets were handed over to the archive.
When computers came along, they replaced ledgers and sheets, ushering in paper-based workflows using stand-alone PCs. At this stage, the PC is used to prepare and register documents. Actually, then the concept of an electronic document arose – a document stored exclusively in a computer, or, as they say, on machine media. However, the advantages of an electronic document in the absence of a local network can only be realized to a small extent. Transfer, coordination and approval of documents at this stage are carried out in paper form.
Mixed workflow assumes that computers connected in a LAN serve to prepare the transfer and storage of documents, however, the document has legal force only in paper form. Coordination and approval of financial and legal documents is carried out in paper form. The preparation of the draft document is carried out in electronic form 1, then the document is sent to the secretary, who registers it, prints it out and sends it to the head for approval 2. The head makes corrections and gives the document to the contractor for revision. After the document is approved, it is distributed over the local network to all performers.
Paperless document management means that all operations with documents are carried out electronically with the help of an automated mail service.
Ideally, the development of electronic document management should lead to completely paperless technologies. However, today paper documents are still necessary to comply with the requirements of many legal regulations – tax, accounting legislation, etc. One of the main purposes of a document is the ability to certify certain facts. Until recently, a paper document with the necessary details and degrees of protection was the main way to prove a fact, that is, it had legal force. Paper as a material carrier has a drawback in the sense that it does not allow erasing and recording new information without a trace, but this disadvantage turns into a virtue in terms of eliminating document forgery.