Random Thoughts

Paper-less Office, a distant dream!

Recently visited a Government Office. I wouldn’t like to reveal where, as I obviously clicked without their knowledge. The sight of papers piled up shocked me, to say the least. Ranging from dark-brown, to light-brown, to off-white to pure-white, these colors show how old the papers are. Today, you enter a government office. There are umpteen forms to fill, photocopies for everything, application forms, everything in paper !!!
With the advancement in technology, what is that you cannot do?  The simplest example would be clicking a photograph with the best of webcams where it used to say ‘Paste two photographs’ ! Done.  Bio-metric scanners in play where it used to say ‘Left Thumb finger print’ !  Everything is possible, just that we should see in that direction.  Agreed, Original Documents in case of Land, etc etc hold a great value. That should all be scanned and a e-copy should be the way to maintain.
With all the technology in place, why is it still not changing???
I think it is because of lack of vision and lack of interest to change. Everyone worked earlier in paper-form, that was the norm everywhere, but what would be the logical way forward? 

1. Gather requirements that encompasses all the details of how work is done today.
2. Develop a software according to the specification.
3. Set a cut-off date or a gradual phase-out of manual work and do it in the software thereafter.
4. Plan to computerize all the data that has been lying in papers, data-entry or scanning or whatever mechanism works.
I understand that this is no mean task, considering the volume and complexity.
Do we lack competent people who can do this? We are the software solution providers to the whole world !
Do we lack funds? The amount of money being misappropriated in scams can help to cover the budget for computerization of everything.
The issue is this does not figure in the list of priority for whatever reasons.
So when we have moved forward with a lot of things, unfortunately this still works with a 20-years-back formula.
But from experience, things have been changing, albeit slowly.  Passport office is one example that I have seen, that has changed for good.  From agents, to brokers, to touts, bribes, and below-the-table dealings to get a Passport, today it has become a straight-forward process with absolute transparency.  That is the way to go and we can hope that these paper godowns will change one day into paper-less office !

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