Designing a Document Strategy
Information is now the most valuable component of the entire economic chain, according to Peter Drucker, the prominent management consultant. Organizations that are able to harness the power of information and manage, share and use information effectively are well positioned to create value for everyone involved, says Drucker.
But the cost of harnessing that value is high. Investment in information technology now accounts for more than one-half of the United States' gross investment in equipment. It has been estimated that U.S. businesses spend more than $100 billion on hardware alone. Documents are a vehicle that can turn the expense of gathering information into an asset; they are one aspect of information processing that can be quantifiably measured and improved. A document strategy is vital because it monitors, directs and improves document systems and can ultimately determine the real value of the information you have gathered and the technology used to collect it.
Are documents paper or digital?
The traditional view of documents as strictly paper no longer applies in today's wired world. The notion of what documents are has expanded to include an ever-widening scope—Web pages, e-mail, electronic file transfer, e-commerce and the rest. The very definition of a document can be troublesome when defining the reach of a meaningful document strategy. Is a document defined in terms of the media that carries the information—paper vs. digital? Should voice mails, e-mails, Web pages and video clips be considered documents? What separates a document from the multitude of information-carrying files stored within the digital vaults of an organization?
Despite the popular notion of the "paperless office," the Information Age is actually powering a boom in paper. Since 1984—the dawn of the personal computer —the number of pages printed by American companies has grown by 500 percent to about 1.5 trillion pages per year. This equates to a mountain of paper 6,500 times taller than Mount Everest.