Friday, May 21, 2010

Paper reports keep everybody else in business

I've been working with a financial services client on a bunch of projects, one of which is how to move from a world of daily reports to something (anything!) a little more efficient.
Today, and every day, the firm pays a large amount of money for the reports to be printed by a third-party print bureau and delivered by truck nightly to their offices, for a guy to then wander around and deliver them to individual desks. Some of them are shredded without even being delivered, and others are immediately scanned when they are received and emailed to branch offices. This is the real world of business, where the expenditure related to inefficient operations such as handling paper reports keeps everybody else in business. Your firm is keeping the economy moving - 'well done'!
Let's look at a potentially fictitious example at Financial services Firm A:
  • Generates on average 200 paper reports each night (including the weekly and monthly runs of some special reports).
  • 5000 pages are printed at the print bureau nightly
  • The print bureau charges the firm $10k to print and courier the reports to Firm A HQ
  • A full-time employee organizes the reports and delivers them to individual desks, shredding any reports that are unassigned
  • 200 pages are printed directly in Firm A HQ
  • 100 pages are scanned at firm HQ and emailed to different offices, taking an hour of one administrator's day
  • Individual employees work with the reports, ranging in activity from: picking it up and shredding it immediately, to examining it line by line and noting the review performed in pencil for later audit.
  • Many draws of filing cabinets are filled to capacity
  • A box of reports per night are made available for off-site storage, eventually

So, we are keeping money moving very effectively: paying organizations to print reports; paying for paper to print reports ourselves; paying people to courier and delver reports; paying people to scan and email reports; paying people to box and handle storage of reports; paying external organizations to archive boxes. The only valuable piece came from the handful of people that perform meaningful work and reviews based on the reports they receive.

But its OK. For now, until we fix the root cause of the problem, we can feel good that we kept the economy afloat. Fortunately, non-fictitious Financial Services Firm B (name changed to protect the innocent!) knows that it needs to change, and I'm having fun helping them to do that. No more private bailouts!

A post from the Improving It blog
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