Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: TJ Randall, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, AppDynamics Blog

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Artificial Intelligence

Microservices Expo: Article

Quit Your Addiction to Pushing Paper

SAP targeted a KPI driven 20% reduction in the use of paper

We're fortunate enough to have three kinds of waste collections in our area: regular trash, garden refuse and recycling. For those that have always had this kind of facility available, this doesn't seem particularly extraordinary. In fact, in some parts of the world, waste can involve as many as a dozen different categories or more. You can in fact spend a lot of effort and time sorting your waste to make sure that you are disposing of trash in a most efficient way.

The reason I brought this up is that a recent visitor to my house commented on the fact that it was amazing how much recycling material we generated since we keep a carton in the kitchen with all of the jars, bottles, boxes and packaging material that needs to be kept separate from the garbage. The comment now resonates with me every time I take that carton to the wheeled bin in the yard and  it got me thinking about the amount of paperwork I have at home. It's time to consider purging since more than seven years of record keeping has elapsed and I want to clear out some of the filing boxes. In going through some of those boxes last year I was astonished to determine just how much important paperwork gets generated by the various processes of daily living. I have moved many of my accounts to paperless and this has alleviated the paper volumes, but surprisingly there's still a banker's box full of paper that needs to be filed every year.

In a domestic household this small mound of paper is relatively insignificant, but in the office and work environment the mounds still seem to be growing. Admittedly, many businesses have taken some significant steps in reducing the paper consumption footprint of daily operations, but we're still a ways off from eliminating the wasteful practice of generating temporary paper forms for data capture and entry processes.

While it may seem a little late in the day to be considering New Year's resolutions, your resolution for 2012 should be to try and identify as many opportunities for reducing paper use as possible. In any given SAP-centric business environment it's likely that there are already a number of measures in place for the creation of electronic documents rather than paper requests and forms that will be transcribed meticulously (or carelessly) into the main system of record and then either shredded or filed.

Some of the most obvious ones are purchase requisitions, leave requests, time sheets and expense reports but you can consider others like internal orders, a host of reports and of course many accounts payable functions. Back in 2009, Tom Raftery of GreenMonk TV spoke to Peter Graf, who is the Chief Sustainability Office at SAP. Graf said SAP targeted a KPI driven 20% reduction in the use of paper. Some of the key areas that were targeted were things like using scan to fax instead of printing, taking electronic media instead of printouts to meetings and reducing the ratio of printers to people and making the printing process smarter by using double-sided printing and keypad pin invocation of the spool cycle. Another interesting idea was setting up a peer pressure mechanism that tracked departmental printing habits. Making a reduction in printed paper use part of the employee compensation matrix is another interesting idea that Graf introduced. MIT also provides some great ideas on how to reduce waste on their workinggreen site and one of those ways that was explicitly called out was the increased use of Online Forms in SAP. Of course printer vendors can also help in this process, although printing and printers is their business they too are interested in compelling sustainability stories and these days most printers have a multitude of roles that include faxing and scanning capability.

"Paper pushing," as MIT calls it, is probably the most fundamental concept of workflow in the office space context. Unlike a production line, the document that you handle can sometimes have workflow elements built inherently into itself. Similarly, using electronic forms like those that you can build with Winshuttle Workflow and InfoPath forms on Winshuttle Central and Microsoft SharePoint can also have those inherent workflow characteristics. More importantly, you can have that workflow tightly integrated with existing SAP transaction based business processes or data queries at the start, in the middle and the end of the entire workflow process.

Simply using your favorite OCR or Image scanning technologies, you can reduce paper consumption by storing, managing and associating external data as scanned images together with key SAP data entered into an electronic form without cluttering your SAP system file storage. These artifacts can also be archived independently of any archiving initiative you may have for your core SAP infrastructure. Microsoft SharePoint supports sophisticated document versioning and Winshuttle Central and Workflow can assist in adding additional status assignments. Digitized invoice document and archiving will help reduce paper use, reduce the risk of transcription errors and improve document management by largely eliminating manual document-handling while appeasing all of the audit and regulatory concerns that your data governance and stewardship organization might have.

I'll end by summing up some statistics of the 2011 PriceWaterhouse study on the costs of "pushing paper" and best practices for AP management. PW called out some sort of Document Management as a "must have" with up to 90% of all corporate information still residing on paper or some type of unstructured format. Their findings indicated that in the average office 90% are merely shuffled and on average gets copied 19 times. Companies are spending around $20 per document on filing, $120 on misfiling and $220 on reconstruction efforts to recreate lost documents. 7.5% of all documents get lost and 3% get misfiled. Estimates run to about 4 Trillion paper documents in US business alone, growing at a rate of 72% per annum.

Processing 100 documents a day as paper at a rate of 6 minutes per document, amounts to 600 filing minutes per day or 10 man hours per day. At a nominal rate of $9 per hour that quickly adds up to $90 a day, just for filing.

It is time to consider moving as much of your paper and form processing to electronic media as you can, and simple form-based data processing is an easy and effective way to start.

Sources for continued reading:

More Stories By Clinton Jones

Clinton Jones is a Product Manager at Winshuttle. He is experienced in international technology and business process with a focus on integrated business technologies. Clinton also services a technical consultant on technology and quality management as it relates to data and process management and governance. Before coming to Winshuttle, Clinton served as a Technical Quality Manager at SAP. Twitter @winshuttle

Microservices Articles
At its core DevOps is all about collaboration. The lines of communication must be opened and it takes some effort to ensure that they stay that way. It’s easy to pay lip service to trends and talk about implementing new methodologies, but without action, real benefits cannot be realized. Success requires planning, advocates empowered to effect change, and, of course, the right tooling. To bring about a cultural shift it’s important to share challenges. In simple terms, ensuring that everyone k...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable?Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, answered these questions and demonstrated techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances and co...
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
Skeuomorphism usually means retaining existing design cues in something new that doesn’t actually need them. However, the concept of skeuomorphism can be thought of as relating more broadly to applying existing patterns to new technologies that, in fact, cry out for new approaches. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gordon Haff, Senior Cloud Strategy Marketing and Evangelism Manager at Red Hat, discussed why containers should be paired with new architectural practices such as microservices rathe...
With the rise of Docker, Kubernetes, and other container technologies, the growth of microservices has skyrocketed among dev teams looking to innovate on a faster release cycle. This has enabled teams to finally realize their DevOps goals to ship and iterate quickly in a continuous delivery model. Why containers are growing in popularity is no surprise — they’re extremely easy to spin up or down, but come with an unforeseen issue. However, without the right foresight, DevOps and IT teams may lo...
Kubernetes is a new and revolutionary open-sourced system for managing containers across multiple hosts in a cluster. Ansible is a simple IT automation tool for just about any requirement for reproducible environments. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Patrick Galbraith, a principal engineer at HPE, will discuss how to build a fully functional Kubernetes cluster on a number of virtual machines or bare-metal hosts. Also included will be a brief demonstration of running a Galer...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, will discuss how to use Kubernetes to setup a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace....
"There is a huge interest in Kubernetes. People are now starting to use Kubernetes and implement it," stated Sebastian Scheele, co-founder of Loodse, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...