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therein. For example, consider the sim-
ple case of individual income tax
returns in public accounting firms. In a
traditional paper-based environment,
paper copies of these returns are typi-
cally stored in a bank of filing cabinets
to which virtually all team members
have unfettered access. Now why do
those team members who work in the
consulting group or in the audit group
need access to these returns? Of
course, in most cases, they do not
need this access.
Virtually all document management
systems provide for various authenti-
cation measures in order for a team
member to gain entry into the system
and for individual documents in the
system to have additional security
measures added to them. Whether the
documents in question are 1040s,
medical records, human resources
records, or any other form of docu-
ment, clearly today's paperless office
offers opportunities to enhance infor-
mation security.
Importing Transactional
Documents and Information
Reducing labor costs associated with
transactional processing is a major
goal of many businesses; by doing so,
costs decrease and team members are
freed to perform services that are more
valuable. Today's paperless office
affords opportunities for such improve-
ment. For instance, many opportunities
abound to scan invoices issued by ven-
dors and convert the information on the
invoice into transactional data that
automatically flows into an accounts
payable application.
Further, once imported into the
accounts payable application, the
invoice data can be matched electroni-
cally to corresponding purchase orders
and receiving reports, eliminating an
obvious amount of clerical time and
cost. What is surprising to many is to
find out that, in today's paperless
office, this type of application scales
not only to very large organizations, but
also down to small businesses using
entry-level accounting applications.
Routing Documents and
Transactions Using
Electronic Workflow
Loosely defined, workflow is the
process of routing documents and
transactions to appropriate participants
in an organization according to a
predefined set of rules. Escalating a
purchase order for a higher level of
management approval because it
exceeds a specified threshold is but
one of countless examples of workflow.
In today's paperless office, once trans-
actional information is available elec-
tronically, it becomes relatively easy
with many document management
systems and workflow applications to
route the document through the organ-
ization based on a set of rules pre-
scribed by management.
For instance, suppose a company
receives a purchase order from a cus-
tomer, but entering the related sales
order into an organization's sales appli-
cation causes the customer to exceed
his or her credit limit. Based on elec-
advocacy community education
13
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