The British Courts: Paperless or Paper-Less?

(Guest blog by Adam Johnson, Director of Limpio MPS)

There doesn’t seem to be a week that goes by without a high profile organisation making a statement about going paperless. Recently, both the British Courts and HMRC have declared the processes they are putting in place to achieve this aim. Southwark Crown Court will this week start trials with jurors using tablets in place of lever-arch files of evidence. Judges reportedly are saying that the technology will save time, money and paperwork, and make the trial much easier to manage. The jurors will no longer have to search through several lever-arch files but simply view documents via tablet utilising the Wi-Fi being installed as part of a major IT investment.

No doubt there will be a long learning curve for the British Courts to adopt and integrate this technology, but their aim, as with most organisations who wish to reduce their reliance on paper, is commendable.

When the term paperless is used, most people envisage NO paper in the workplace at all, and all documents used, viewed and annotated electronically, yet we still believe this target to be far off in the future. However, technology has provided us with the ability to vastly reduce our reliance on paper. The old adage ‘Paper-Less’ seems to suit.

Technology now allows us to reduce the amount of paper consumed and by doing so improve efficiency and document workflow, but it’s going to be some time before organisations will be able to throw away their old printers. What is happening though is that printers have become true multifunctional devices rather than a printer that can also perform other functions. Technology has moved forward to allow these devices to be not just scanners that convert paper into an electronic picture, but be the on-board for paper documents to create intelligent documents that integrate with digital workflow.

Xerox have led the field in this area with their award winning ConnectKey software platform on their range on multifunctional devices that allow for the design and implementation of customised Apps (just like your smart phone). This brings two significant advantages. First, these bespoke Apps can be created to suit your organisation’s requirements and workflow, allowing true integration into backend systems.

Secondly, (and some would say more importantly), is user adoption. Typically there is a long and painful learning curve when implementing new software and workflow. These apps are designed just like that on your smart phone whereby simplicity is key. In its basic form the user simply has to select the app and scan the document. Metadata and scanning requirements can be pre-programed for each type of application, freeing the end user of remembering (or incorrectly inputting) the correct procedure.

We believe that these types of Apps will become commonplace, like they are on your smart phone, and will vastly accelerate our transition towards the ‘Paper-Less’ office environment. As for a paperless British Court system, we shall have to wait and see.

Limpio MPS works with organizations to improve business practice and reduce the impact that printing has on the organization. This content is shared with permission. Any views expressed reflect the opinion of the original authors.

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