Tag Archives: Paperless Office

The Last Post

Well I will say that this is the last post for the site SPA Paperless Office Project the reason why is that times have changed the site will have a new name and a new look complete with a totally new area to the paperless office, it will still have the roots of the S.P.A Foundation and still built around what I believe is still one of the fundamentals of achieving a paperless environment.

What will the new site have, a purpose built Management Efficacy SPA Template Tool and an Efficacy SPA Paperless Template Tool plus a few others.

How will the site be designed, it will have a new looking reader friendly screen a new external link friendly system plus the all the usual posts that are connected to the paperless environment for the person who wants to understand and read thought and interesting posts that are connected to this subject.

The site design will constantly be updated to improve the reader’s experience.

What will be the site called? To keep in line with the original thoughts of the first web site the name Paperless Endeavour will hope to keep the ever lasting and changing environment that to a certain degree will always try to keep up with the Technologies advances and break thoughts that are always trying to improve the world we live in weather it’s in the office or associated Technologies.

The new site will be launched in January next year, so I hope to see you then, other wise have a wonderful Christmas Holiday and a Happy New Year.

Martin Smith

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Paperless and ISO 1799 (27001) (27002)

If these acts are very broadly all to do with security (see early posts for a more details description) and in fact any organizations that handles and depends on information.

How can a paperless system assist these regulations?

I think we have to look at the wider picture and understand why we use a paperless system to try to find an answer for this area.

It’s certainly not a case to say that we have to design a special area for this act to take place within a paperless system as nearly all companies will be connected to these acts in some way due to the fact we must handle peoples information just to employ and of cause some companies will require a more complex system if they depend on peoples information.

So do we design a paperless system to accommodate these acts or do we try to place these requirements into an already paperless system which could be better known as a Document Management System with added security due to the possible sensitivity of the information.

Some of the companies who have installed a respectable Document Management system will be happy with the outcome and to a certain degree this is more than acceptable to a normal company dependant of the type of information and type of company who has to use these regulations to a great degree, these two statements go without saying and are pretty common.

But could we say that a process of actions and processors within a system is the best answer, I think it’s more to do with we have to use what is available to us at the time of installation and what has been designed and already accepted.

It obvious that security has to play a big part if we intend to use the computer as an office or to assist a paperless system, that it the main point of the acts to protect people information.

One of the better areas of these acts is that is more to do with a code of practice/guideline rather than a certification standard, organizations are free to select and implement other controls, or indeed adopt alternative complete suites of information security controls as they see fit.

We can all agree that technology will grow and become better as technology grows in time, so could you say that this will always be open to debate in the areas of acceptability and how this will react to a paperless system.

We could say that this will always be the case, simple because technology will always grow but we do have to find that intermediate where a practical solution will be available to provide a practical answer.


Paperless and the Data Protection Act 1998

We have stated that the DPA can be a complex act to process and can contain sensitive information and personnel information about individuals.

So can a paperless system assist this act?

I think the main question we have to ask ourselves is to what degree do we store or hold this type of information and for how long.

If you have read the post within this section you will know that there are eight key areas within this act.

  • Fairly and lawfully processed
  • Processed for limited purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • Accurate and up to date
  • Not kept for longer than is necessary
  • Processed in line with your rights
  • Secure
  • Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection

I think the first four key areas are straight forward and are not really a key area to the paperless system although the process to achieve these areas must be given serious consideration when applying this information to a PC or to a system which has been developed for your organization or company.

One of the areas that sometime can be overlooked is that of first “input”, some system allow the person to do this electronically and this information is transferred automatically into the main data bank, but there are still a lot of paper information which has to be transferred manually into the electronic data system.

At this stage paper can cause a problem not only in the sense of a paperless environment but also transferring that information without paper and obtaining a secure transfer, this is a more to do with the Electronic Signature Regulations 2022 and the ESR Data protection which has been covered with an other section of the blog.

The next two areas: Not kept for longer than is necessary and processed in line with your rights, once again this will depend on the type of organization and company where these are used in the contents of there application.

The last two are certainly two of the main concerns within this act which have caused problems with the design and also its potential damage weather its long term or short term damage.

Secure can mean a lot of areas within this section, secure form hackers, secure loss of data, secure of storage, secure within a day to day usage. Secure of transferring and secure of non active viewing and usage.

One of the area that I am totally confused about is that, sometimes we read and see on the news, that a USB stick was left on a train or lost in a public place, its not the reason that the information was lost, unfortunately people are human and mistakes are made, but it’s the lack of protected procedures that companies introduce when applying this act, its knowing that these incidents happened not because of human or computer error but the procedures allowed this to happen.

How was the information transferred on the stick in the first place, you can say that its like a person working in a bank taking some of the money out of the bank, taking it home and saying that he or she has to count it while he or she is at home, it should not happen in the first place, it should not even entered the person mind, never mind carrying out the act

I think this act and the paperless system is difficult to separate, not because it is complex but it would be difficult to design a totally paperless system which is separate from the standard PC installation and keep it connected within the organizations computerized frame work.

We must also ask our selves do we want to separate this information, I think it can only be answered to the type of information you have in the first place, although storage and input and also day to day activities may benefit from totally paperless environment.

Once again this section is really dependant to the type of information and how the organization and company is using this information in the first place


Paperless and the Mobile

Just recently I have spent some time reading various articles and comments stating that the mobile phone can assist and is also used as a paperless office.

I must admit this statement makes me “shudder with horror”

I know you might say that the development of the mobile phone has helped with the general progression of the paperless system and you would be correct to state this, but in the next sentence the mobile phone has assisted the development of all most general gadgetry products that we used on a day to day basis.

If we are stating that the mobile phone is been used as a paperless office in what contents do we mean, looking and reading the articles it’s seems to be in the areas of convenience with regards to booking tickets and also paying bills through paperless transactions, this I would agree, but this is nothing new and we have been using this technology for some time now.

So what else could we be using this for with regards to the paperless office we must remember these are stating that your mobile can be your office.

We have things like apps for scanning so your mobile can scan any documentation , we all so have apps which are claiming to be paperless management documentation systems that you can down load into your mobile, we also have scribed I paper, which lets you down load individual documents into your phone and stores them into a file we also have programmes like OCR  (Optical Character Recognition) or Read Iris Pro which you can down load into your mobile read and view documents as and when required.

I suppose all these things are heading into the right direction and are assisting the development of the paperless system, I just have concerns that the general public believe that you could run your office from your mobile phone.

If you had to put your hand on your hart, could you realistically say that this is possible and is a realistic solution to a paperless office.

What I do like about the mobile industry is that it has been a great benchmarking product for the future of the paperless system, and we have to be gratefully that the general public are so fickle that they must have the latest and fastest technology that paves the way for development and progressive solutions that can be adapted to adjoining technologies within the paperless system.

 I could state that the advertising study that I carried out some time ago with Bradford University was correct, in that the terminology of the wording “Paperless Office” should be used with caution.

My personal belief this that this does not help the progressive development of the paperless office, it may assist the progressive development of paperless solutions which can help us in general termsc and that is a good thing to have as I have so many times stated that we must perceive the customer users perception  and not the technologies perception.


E Paper and a “Pretentious Stigma”

Fish and chips traditionally wrapped in white ...

Image via Wikipedia

If you have been following any of my posts you will have noticed that I encourage technological advances but for a realistic and practical approach which can assist paperless systems and the concept of the paperless office.

I do believe that there is still an aristocratic or a pretentious stigma surrounding certain technological products around at the moment, this mainly been the development of E paper, not only E Paper but also technological developments to help us to combat the development of any paperless product.

We all understand that the progressive growth of the paperless office started very simply when software programmes were available for your PC, This over the years has encouraged people to start to use the standard computers to assist the development of the paperless office.

We all know now that E paper is the next big thing to tackle the development of a paperless society or a substitute or even a replacement for paper. Well that’s what I think! In the terms of what was produced on traditional paper is now been replaced by e paper or a product device that wants to replace paper.

I have often wondered if we have really thought or considered that we used paper for, I don’t mean in the ever day items like toilet paper or wrapping up your fish and chips (English way of eating) but paper that is used as a communication tool.

Communicating in the areas of the work environment and also social activities, I say social activities, but what did we use paper for as a social activity, reading books, magazines and Newspapers. I think there are the many areas which will come to everyone’s mind and I am sure that there will be a few other areas that you will think of in time.

One of my points is that why are the developers solely marketing the social side of these products, the skiff reader was designed for newspapers and magazines, most of the tables that are on the market have a underlining approach to social activities.

I honesty believe that we are scared to say that if we design an e paper product like the skiff reader, Sony e paper etc, that actually replaces paper, will the user turn around and state “is that all it does” !!!!, But really that’s all we want it to do, replace the paper that we use as a communication tool.

 The next big question is that can e paper work along side the computer!


The basic legalities of scanned documents

Does a scanned document stand up in court?

In comparison to paper documents, the issues for electronic documents actually seem to rest on how much integrity they have in terms of ‘pedigree’ and authenticity rather than their admissibility. Courts and governing bodies now accept that electronic filing is normal procedure for many companies, and they fully accept electronic documents as evidence or supporting material so long as companies can prove that they’ve taken the appropriate measures to ensure their integrity.

The Basis in Law

The Civil Evidence Act 1995 is perhaps the most relevant point of law to address in relation to electronic documents. Its legacy is to take the onus off the question of physical admissibility, instead examining the actual weight carried by the electronic evidence submitted. The evidential value is then determined by the procedures followed by the company presenting the documents. To put is simply, if a company submits a document that has clearly been unaltered since its creation or which brings with it a clear audit trail that categorises any changes made to it along the way, then that holds for more evidential value than a document that could possibly have been amended in the interim. Simple procedures ensure document integrity for a company looking to move towards an electronic filing system.

Sections 8 and 9 of the Civil Evidence Act 1995 illustrate the legal guidelines for electronic documents as evidence:

8 (1) Where a statement contained in a document is admissible as evidence in civil proceedings, it may be proved;

(a) by the production of that document, or

(b) whether or not that document is still in existence, by the production of a copy of that document or of the material part of it, authenticated is such a manner as the court may approve.

(2) It is immaterial for this purpose how many removes there are between a copy and an original.

9 (1) A document that is shown to form a part of the records of a business or a public authority may be received in evidence in civil proceedings without an further proof

(2) A document should be taken to form part of the records of a business or public authority if there is produced to a court a certificate to that effect signed either by an officer of the business or authority to which the records belong.

Essentially, this law may be interpreted to show that an original document is not the only admissible evidence in civil courts. Electronic copies of documents are acceptable so long as their integrity can be proved. Criminal courts involve a more complex set of guidelines, and business with concerns about compliance in this area should check with a specialist lawyer.

Scanned documents and HM Customs & Excise

 What about the VAT

At present, the law makes no distinction between electronic or paper records. As a result, Customs & Excise simply refer to ‘records’ in their guidelines – whether a business keeps their records on paper or electronically makes little difference.

They do, however, insist that you inform them of the format you use for your records.

Section 5.4 of VAT Notice 700/21 reads as follows:

If you keep all or part of your records and accounts on a computer, you must make sure that you can meet your legal obligations to:

  • Account for VAT properly
  • Provide information to us whenever we visit you; and
  • Keep records in the required detail for the required length of time

In practical terms, a business should therefore advise their local VAT office that they wish to store scanned documents copies of all their records in ‘format X’ (either TIF or PDF format), and that those records will be held within ‘document management system

Customs & Excise do not recommend any particular software packages of file formats and at present an acceptable standard has not been precisely defined, but ‘may be taken to mean that all details on the reproduced documents are clear and legible’, which enables fairly broad interpretation.

By also following the Code of the British Standard BSI DISC PD0008 in addition to the requirements of Customs & Excise, a company can take the best precautions available to ensure that their records are acceptable for a VAT inspection.

Timescales for Record Keeping

The general requirement for record keeping is a period dating back at least 6 years. For many companies, keeping paper records for so long is fraught with difficulties. By agreement with the Commissioners, this time limit requirement may have a degree of flexibility. It could be noted, though, that if a company uses electronic filing, then the 6 year timescale is of little consequence.

One important consideration for Customs & Excise is their requirement that any original paper invoices must be retained for a period of no less than one VAT period. This would ensure that the current VAT return can be verified using original documentation. Depending on the nature of the company’s accounting pattern, this period is either 1 month, 3 months or 1 year in length.

After this time and submission of the return in question, the company can then consign those accounting records to electronic filing in confidence.

Scanned documents and the Inland Revenue

Not a world away from the requirements of Customs and Excise, the Inland Revenue has adopted a fairly flexible view of records stored electronically, based on the same grounds that the law does not at present differentiate between paper and electronic documents.

Set out in Tax Bulletin 37, the Revenue provides the following guidelines:

Records may be preserved on optical imaging systems, and the originals discarded, provided that what is retained in digital form represents a complete and unaltered image of the underlying paper document. We are now able to go further: Both in the case of companies and unincorporated businesses we can accept other methods which preserve the information in the record in a different form. This is so long as those methods capture all the information needed to demonstrate that a complete and correct tax return has been made and are capable of yielding up that information in a legible form.

They go on to confirm that some material, such as a company’s standard terms and conditions of sale, is not required to be retained for tax purposes. However, exactly what material should be retained and what can be discarded should be checked thoroughly with a tax adviser as regulations differ across industries.

In this Tax Bulletin, the Inland Revenue also makes the important acknowledgement that companies complying with the British Standard BSI DISC PD0008 will automatically satisfy the tax requirements for keeping electronic records.

At present, under the terms of the Companies Act, for most companies the timescales that the Revenue requires material to be retained is set at 6 years from the end of an accounting period. In cases of investigation or late return submission, then this period will extend accordingly. Once again, electronic records management is by for the easiest method of storage for convenience and space-saving benefits.


E Paper (Technical basics)

Electronic paper (Side view of Electrophoretic...

Image via Wikipedia

Electronic paper was first developed in the 1970s by Nick Sheridon at Xerox‘s Palo Alto Research Center. The first electronic paper, called Gyricon, consisted of polyethylene spheres between 75 and 106 micrometres across.

Each sphere is a janus particle composed of negatively charged black plastic on one side and positively charged white plastic on the other (each bead is thus a dipole. The spheres are embedded in a transparent silicone sheet, with each sphere suspended in a bubble of oil so that they can rotate freely.

The polarity of the voltage applied to each pair of electrodes then determines whether the white or black side is face-up, thus giving the pixel a white or black appearance. At the FPD 2008 exhibition, Japanese company Soken has demonstrated a wall with electronic wall-paper using this technology.

In the simplest implementation of an electrophoretic display, titanium dioxide particles approximately one micrometer in diameter are dispersed in a hydrocarbon oil. A dark-colored dye is also added to the oil, along with surfactants and charging agents that cause the particles to take on an electric charge. This mixture is placed between two parallel, conductive plates separated by a gap of 10 to 100 micrometres.

When a voltage is applied across the two plates, the particles will migrate electrophoretically to the plate bearing the opposite charge from that on the particles. When the particles are located at the front (viewing) side of the display, it appears white, because light is scattered back to the viewer by the high-index titania particles.

When the particles are located at the rear side of the display, it appears dark, because the incident light is absorbed by the colored dye. If the rear electrode is divided into a number of small picture elements (pixels), then an image can be formed by applying the appropriate voltage to each region of the display to create a pattern of reflecting and absorbing regions.

Electrophoretic displays are considered prime examples of the electronic paper category, because of their paper-like appearance and low power consumption.

Examples of commercial electrophoretic displays include the high-resolution active matrix displays used in the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Librie, Sony Reader, and iRex iLiad e-readers.

 These displays are constructed from an electrophoretic imaging film manufactured by E Ink Corporation. Also the technology has been developed by Sipix Microcup[9] and Bridgestone Quick Response Liquid Powder Display (QR-LPD). The Motorola MOTOFONE F3 was the first mobile phone to use the technology, in an effort to help eliminate glare from direct sunlight during outdoor use.

Electrophoretic displays can be manufactured using the Electronics on Plastic by Laser Release (EPLaR) process developed by Philips Research to enable existing AM-LCD manufacturing plants to create flexible plastic displays.