Over the past few years, it has become clear that the UW is on a fast track to going digital. With Workday and other central systems, with online forms, with e-signatures – more and more records that were traditionally on paper are now being created and received electronically. Part of our Fetch the Future--Rethink the Ink initiative, this training will help you make good choices when implementing electronic workflows, and introduce tools you can use. Watch the video below then reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and feedback.
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We all know paper is a relic of the past. Part of our Fetch the Future initiative, this training will help you make good choices when implementing electronic workflows, and introduce tools you can use.
A Records Management best practice is that records should stay in their native format. These days, the vast majority of records at the University of Washington are born digital. You are not required to, and in fact should not, print them. If it a record is created electronically, it stays electronic.
If colleagues ask if we really need to go digital, you can share these reasons. Backing up paper requires significant physical space and is difficult to properly maintain. It’s impossible to access if you aren’t on site. It’s not searchable, and difficult to recover after a natural disaster. Paper is more complicated to produce in the event of a public records request, audit, or litigation.
Start by identifying where your paper is coming from. For example, do you have a process that includes ink signatures? E-signatures are secure and their use is legally-approved by state and federal statutes and regulations. But that’s just the beginning! Surveys, forms, and logs are all potential candidates for creating and maintaining electronically. Once you make one process electronic, you may be inspired to keep going on many others across your operation.
[Screen clip] For specific suggestions about types of electronic records, visit our web site. In the top menu, hover on E-records, click on the Fetch the Future hub, then click on “Tip Sheet: Going Paperless”. This resource includes concepts to consider when looking at the paper processes in your office, and types of records we’ve seen successfully transformed to electronic formats.
Determine which aspects of your current situation work well for your colleagues. You don’t need to completely reinvent what’s already working, instead try to replicate the process steps in the electronic workflow. But do take this opportunity to streamline processes to make them more efficient, which could make files more accessible than they were previously.
There are a wide variety of software options available to employees of the university. Determine the best storage location based on your specific needs. Be realistic about the technological literacy and time colleagues might have to devote to learning a new process. For instance, SharePoint is more customizable but may take more knowledge and skills to get up and running compared to Google Drive which is less customizable, but more straightforward to implement.
Storage options can be situational. Are you looking to collaboratively edit documents with your colleagues, or are you looking to store records for long term in their current state with limited editing? Consider security and access concerns for the records. How confidential are the records? Consult our resource to help you choose the best option for your purposes.
[Screen clip] In our Fetch the Future Hub you can find our resource “Choosing Electronic Storage Location.” Here you can learn more about your storage options, and learn which is appropriate for your needs.
[Screen clip of EDM website] On the UW IT website, you can find an excellent storage option in Enterprise Document Management, or EDM. Managed by UW-IT, it may suit your needs for storing and retrieving inactive electronic content. You can submit an interest form on their website.
No matter which storage solution you choose for electronic files, make sure you can access them throughout their retention period, and delete them at the end. File by function, and don’t overcomplicate it.
[Screen clip]We have additional resources on our website to clarify your thinking on this topic. In our Fetch the Future Hub you can find our resource “Best Practices for Folder Structures.” This resource explains using the trigger that starts the retention countdown to inform how to organize files. It’s important to consider whether this cut-off trigger is an event or a fixed point in time, and doing so will help you build a better folder structure.
In our Fetch the Future Hub, check out our complete guide to “Structuring Electronic Files.” Here, you’ll find comprehensive information on how to organize files with some additional considerations to keep in mind. You can reference this resource as you get to work, and keep track of which step is next.
Have a meeting with your team about the workflow process before the switchover happens. Take concerns into account, but don’t let objectors stop the switch to digital. Test your process, and save the procedures where they’re easy to reference. If some colleagues are less comfortable with the technology than others, offer to meet with them one-on-one and train them on the new process or software.
Pick a deadline and declare “after this date the electronic process will be followed”. Consider it like flipping a switch. Check in with colleagues after implementation – is there anything that can be improved? Be open to continuous future improvements. Be sure to train new staff on the procedures and structure, and shut off access as employees separate.
Consider if all that paper you have around are records you actually need to retain. Check the records retention schedule, and if you are unsure contact the Records Management ROT Squad for help.
If your paper needs to be retained, you can wait until it reaches the end of its retention and shred or recycle it as appropriate. But if you find it would be more efficient to have all your records in one format, contact us for help creating a Scanning Policy. A Scanning Policy enables you to file the records electronically, and destroy the original paper copies.
[Screen clip] On our website, the Scanning Policy Builder is located under Our Services. Start by filling in the online questionnaire and a member of our staff will get in touch to finalize your new Scanning Policy.
Because it’s easier to let digital files accumulate than paper files that physically take up space, make sure to delete records at the end of their retention period. This reduces your legal liability and mitigates risk, and also makes it easier to locate records as you need them. You can contact the ROT Squad during your clean out days if you have questions!
Following the steps we’ve discussed today, you’ll be on the path to success in a streamlined, paperless office. To summarize, you’ll need to: identify where your paper is coming from, carefully consider your software, processes, and folder structure, communicate and cooperate with your colleagues, consider what to do with the paper you accumulated in the past, and commit to recurring clean-up days.
Do you feel confident moving into the office of the future? Contact us and share your solutions so we can share them with offices in similar situations. Or, are you feeling lost in a sea of paper files? Contact us and we can advise! Contact information 206-543-7950, email@example.com Thank you for taking our training.