Case Study Of Post Office Management System

Scanners have many different applications. When used as part of a document management system, they can save time and money

In controlled situations, some indicators of the efficiency of a document management system ( of which a scanner is an important element ( have been measured and proven in certain business situations. For instance, in a study undertaken by Price Waterhouse, "several paralegals were asked to search through 10,000 documents by one author, written within one time frame, on one topic. It took them 67 hours to find 15 documents. The same search, using document management technology, found 20 documents in 4.5 seconds."

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A different study conducted by Coopers & Lybrand discovered that in the average office, 19 copies are made of each document. Of these, 7.5 per cent are lost completely. The cost of labour for filing is $20 and another $120 is spent on labour searching for the misfiled documents. Finally, an additional $250 is spent on the labour involved in recreating the missing documents. Judging from these results, the case for imaging and document management systems, based on increased efficiency, is strong. It might be useful at this point to provide some definitions. In imaging, the scanner digitises a paper document and the file is stored electronically and managed by the software. A document imaging scanner, unlike a desktop publishing scanner, is designed to digitise documents at high speed and must include an automatic document feeder (ADF). Document management software provides for the centralised management and administration of large volumes of documents. These documents can originate from any source, but are stored electronically. Workflow systems provide for the automation of routine work processes, by automatically routing imaged or electronic data, and functions as a replacement for the manual routing of paper. This is a higher level application, which is only possible with a fully realised document management system. In the modern office, information tends to take one of three forms: paper-based data, mainframe or "host system" data and PC-generated data. Of these three, the fastest growing today is probably the information that is created on desktop PCs. However, paper has always been with us and huge resources of data are now resident on legacy systems like mainframes. Depending on the historic development of your organisation, you will find that a large amount of your data resides on a host such as an AS 400, VAX or a UNIX mainframe. For some organisations however, 75 per cent or more of their documents are paper-based. This estimate may sound exaggerated at first, but if you look at the amount of paper on and around your own desk, you may see that it isn't so hard to believe. Regardless of your organisation's history or your current technology, you will have valuable information on paper that hasn't been generated or captured electronically. Seen from this standpoint, one of the greatest benefits in document imaging and document management systems is its ability to merge various sources of information into one access interface. This is an important consideration for the future of any modern organisation because it opens up so many other possibilities. Organisations that embrace imaging and document management systems almost invariably expand the uses of the system and the access to information that it provides. This may be in the form of a workflow system or it may involve methods like Internet access to disseminate information outside the organisation. With document management systems, it becomes easier to control information more closely, and yet make it more readily available to those who should have it. This is what we refer to as "the document management evolution." In the near future, the Internet/intranet/extranet information highway will become the dominant means for information delivery and access. When you convert paper-based information into online content, those captured images become your organisation's "Information Asset." Getting back to our central question then, how do you determine whether document imaging and document management are for you? In general terms, based on the evidence noted above, this is an easy question to answer. If access to the information in your document base directly correlates with your departmental performance, and if your document base is getting larger, then you have a case for document imaging. Beyond that general observation, here are some of the specific benefits: Reduced paper consumption. With online electronic documents, especially if controlled within a workflow system, you can avoid the necessity of multi-part forms for internal copies. You also avoid duplication of documents for distribution, which is notoriously wasteful. Some organisations find that their document management system is paid back in the first year's savings on paper alone Reduced storage costs of paper documents. This is also an easily quantifiable cost. Many organisations discover a tremendous amount of usable square footage which can lead to cost savings, expansion opportunities or just better space utilisation Elimination of misfiled documents and the associated costs of regenerating those documents Location of records quickly. Usually this time is measured in seconds, which means you can provide information while the requester is still on the phone. If your representative doesn't have to leave his or her desk to locate a document, the efficiency improvement can be enormous The most critical element in any imaging and document management system is the software. A document imaging specialist can assist you in ensuring you get the right software, with the right scanners, and that all the pieces fit to create a workable solution specifically designed for your organisation. The sooner you begin the process, the sooner you'll see the benefits of merging your data in all its various forms into an efficient document management system. Whether you look at it from the perspective of a government-related organisation or private sector business, there's no question ( imaging and document management really is the way of the future. Compiled by Paul Phillips( Fujitsu Europe Limited, 1999
The next time your post arrives, the postman might be using a PDA to ensure it arrives at the correct address

The group discovered that it could offer a more consistent delivery by giving supervisors better tools to oversee their carriers' progress, both in the post office and out on their routes. In the past, supervisors used handheld devices to mark delivery times for each route. That data was later downloaded into a database. Unfortunately, information sitting in the database didn't help supervisors when making spot check visits on carrier routes.

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"Our original intention was to use the data collection device to put the information for all of the routes within a delivery zone at the supervisors' fingertips," explains Rich Rooney, operations programs analyst. Rooney covers the Great Lakes area, which includes the states of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Since the devices only collected data, supervisors had to carry a printout of the route times. If the carrier left later or earlier than the time in the database, the supervisor had to manually recalculate the times to find the carrier's location. On the streetLooking for a better solution, operations programs analyst Tyrone Daniels contacted Jeff Chandler of Polaris Technologies in Louisville, Kentucky. Chandler worked with the Postal Service's Great Lakes area group to develop a solution, called Office and Street Management (OSM), that runs on Handheld PCs powered by the Microsoft Windows CE operating system version 2.0 and on the supervisors' desktop computers. OSM consists of two applications: Street Locator, which tracks carriers' street routes and times, and Office Manager, which records mail volume and estimates processing time for that volume. Since January 1999, about 15 supervisors in the Great Lakes area have been beta testing the OSM applications on Hewlett-Packard 620LX Handheld PCs. As with the previous system, supervisors walk the routes gathering all the timing information for both delivering mail and allied functions such as delivering a parcel and taking lunch breaks. That information is then uploaded into a Microsoft Access database on a desktop PC back in the office. Supervisors can download information on 30 or 35 routes and pinpoint within a few minutes exactly where any of their carriers are at any point in time. The application adjusts those times instantly based on the actual time the carrier left the office or where the supervisors find the carrier out on the street. The Handheld PCs currently carry about 3Mb of route information, but have the capacity for more than 10 times that amount. "Supervisors are supposed to manage carriers both on the street and in the office. They don't visit every single route every day, but periodically pick certain routes to make sure the carriers are where they're supposed to be," explains Rooney. By carrying the Handheld PC on the street, supervisors can find the carriers more quickly and instantly determine whether or not they're on schedule. Supervisors also can recalculate the expected return time of the carrier based on where he or she actually is on the route. If the Street Locator shows that the carrier won't finish on time, the supervisor can bring in help. In addition to quickly locating carriers, having all the route information on the Handheld PC can save supervisors months of learning all of the ins and outs of their territories. It also helps them inform a fill-in carrier about how their performance compares to the regular carrier. In the officeBack in the office, supervisors use the Office Manager program to manage carriers as they prepare for their routes. Some of the mail is counted by machine, but non-automated mail is counted manually. The larger the volume that carriers have to deliver, the longer it takes to finish their office activities. To get a clear picture of each carrier's volume, supervisors carry their Handheld PCs to each carrier's route case to enter the volume of mail. This is then uploaded to the desktop computer. After that, supervisors download all of the volume information for each route, including those pieces counted electronically, back into the Office Manager program on the Handheld PC. Based on volume and demonstrated performance, the program projects each carrier's departure time. If the software shows that the carrier's departure time is later than normal, the supervisor can take steps to ensure that the carrier leaves on time. "Now we can determine to within a five-minute window what the impact is of each tray of mail, based on each carrier's performance indicators," Rooney says. Making a differenceThe Great Lakes area expects to roll out the OSM application to approximately 2,500 supervisors in its tri-state area in the next several months. Other Postal Service areas have expressed interest in the system as well, which could expand to as many as 25,000 users nationwide. "Our supervisors chose the Handheld PC because they wanted to put computing power in their hands and not tie themselves to a desktop computer," Daniels observes. "The four-and-a-half hour battery life is more than enough for most supervisors. And if they need longer battery life, they can replace it with an extended-life battery." Daniels also notes that the recording capabilities supported by Windows CE are a big hit. "Now supervisors can leave the office paperless, record comments as they go and replay those comments back in the office to generate their reports." Compiled by Paul Phillips( Microsoft Corporation

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