Tag Archives: Social Sciences

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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Is SPA Just note taking?

I have written this post for various reasons. I have spent the past two years studying an area of what I think is connected to an important area of the paperless office not only to the office environment but to the paperless environment.

I still think that this subject is very important not because I have provided calculations that it exists and tried to bring it to the attention of anybody who is connected to the paperless environment but as a building block to try to understand how an interaction of written communication which is not directly connected to your computer main frame or connected to the office PC can be classed as a paperless system.

And to this day you can not state that you are running a true paperless system if you still perform SPA’s within your work office or environment.

Could you state that SPA’s are just a form of note taking ! to a certain degree this could be true but there is an underlining point to make that if these items are still performed within the office and people are still using paper to perform these actions, why have we not found an answer to the problem ? 

Most of the people who will read this post will probably say that there is not a problem with this area and if you look at it on the surface then you will be right but if you look at the whole of the area within this field you just might open a door to find the answer with regards to a bigger picture.

Could this be the interaction between people in the office which are still using written communication between colleagues and not having the software or hardware that is commercially acceptable and commonly used within the office.

Then it might just make you think about what a paperless office or paperless system is or what it should represent.

I think what we all agree that SPA’s or software programmes by themselves are not just the answer for a better paperless system it can cover all areas from management and attitude and a way of thinking to really bring the message home that the paperless system could and will benefit companies from saving money, ROI, work flow efficiency, better working conditions and also a greener environment and all these things are connected to a paperless system.

I write this post because it’s time to move to the next satge SPA’s will still play a big part of the site and certainly will still be used as the foundations of what I have mentioned above.

If you still believe that SPA’s are still just a form of notes then you will be pleased to know that I have enclosed some links to say exactly that.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/note-taker-hd/id366572045?mt=8

The above links are apps that you can buy for your I pad and they represent exactly that, software that has been designed to take notes and small messages which you can use with your I pad.

Have a look at the links and see what you think ?

My background to the paperless system is that of an academic back ground and with attending university next year will continue for another couple of years yet with hoping to look at the paperless system once again in a different view.


Putting the “Office” into the Paperless Office

If we want to bring the paperless office to a new height and bring the paperless system to an office, do you think that the office as we all known and understand will have to change?

Has the office stopped the potential growth of the paperless system, what would we class as a office in real terms has the office ever changed, you would be right to say once or twice, we started with the traditional layout, a picture looking like George Orwell’s Film 1984, not in the sense of big brother but in the sense of totalitarian presence with a straight line of desks, all in a dark grey and black colours and a strict sense of uniformed procedures with no curves for flexibility.

Times changed and we started to understand that the work force should have a more relaxed atmosphere, not so straight and down the line, but a space between the desk and yourself and a so called workable free area.

This workable free area became more common and we started to look at the work space and not a desk, individual offices became obsolete and an open space had no barriers between the workers and the managers, we slowly developed into the open plan office and this really provided a greater open space were we could glide around and have this free feeling to encourage better working conditions.

Up to a point these have been the main areas, give or take a few untraditional methods, I write this simply because if we want the paperless office to develop we must consider all the connecting and surrounding aspects, put it another way, if you were buying a sport car you would expect it to have a powerful engine to class it as a sports car not a middle of the road family car engine, is this slowly happing to the paperless system  

If we want a paperless office should we look at the office in the Paperless office in a different way?

I did write a few other posts regarding this area called Attitude and a way of thinking which really does some this areas up.

Will we have to change our thinking and adapt the office to a paperless system or shall we adapt the hardware and the software to a accommodated the concept of the paperless office.

I think we should look at both areas and hopefully meet them in the middle;

I will write in the future how to change an office to accommodate a paperless system not stating which products are available but a comprehensive look at a potential design view to a medium size company.


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.


Paperless and the Civil Evidence Act 1995

We all can agree that the concept of the paperless office is becoming a reality as more systems and programs are been designed but do we have to consider the legal and compliance requirements when thinking about preparing for a paperless system.

The answer is yes we do, but unfortunately there is not a yes and no situation in how you design this, as you can appreciate companies and organizations will have different system and processes .The self employed person with a small company will not have to worry about this area, the main area is the items that we would recommend not to copy or transfer into a electronic document.

If we look at the Civil Evidence Act 1995, you could be right in assuming that this is really for the laws, courts and soliciting professions and in most cases this will be the case.

How can this Act assist the paperless system, the main area is that if you want to introduce a paperless system, transferring paper into a electronic document may have to follow certain guidelines. The problem with this is not that you can not copy paper documents in to electronic documents but it’s the area of integrity and authenticity, i.e. proof that it has not been tampered with and that it still retains its integrity as an original record.

We must also remember that at this point that they are so many ISO and BSI rules and guidelines that certain areas will cross over into each sections so therefore compliance can be covered from one guide line to another.

Most of the information will tell you that the guidelines are set out in BSI DISC PD0008, the British Standard (see older post) which relates to the Legal Admissibility of Evidential Information Stored Electronically. It provides a framework and guidelines that identify key areas of good practice

So in real terms what are the guide lines, Audit data requirements, Access control considerations, Interface requirements and backup obligations?

In very English terms it’s the Big Brother of the office, all documents are traced and tracked so if any printing, scanning and copying happens to a document it can be traceable and auditable.

So how is this connected to the paperless system and how does it assist this concept the main question you have to answer is? What is the original documents in the first place, is it an electronic transaction or a paper document that will have to be scanned.

To place this act in any category with the paperless system there are many areas to take into account and Audit trails are one of them. So if one of the answer is that the original document is presented in an electronic form then this has crossed over, to what you could say is a start of the paperless system to what degree do you conduct this audit system, This is really dependant to the type of business you control.

I do believe that every small business should have a basic audit program, we are not talking about the expensive and complicated bespoke systems, but to have a simple system within your structure is a good house keeping practice.

I have placed a few links, showing the basic systems which are designed for the smaller organization and Equitrac is probably a system that is used for the bigger and more professional organizations.

http://www.q-pulse.com/audit-management-system.asp?gclid=COXJ0YmEsKQCFYn-2AodEDtQzw

http://www.bitrixsoft.com/products/intranet/features/files.php?r1=enadwords&r2=doc&gclid=CKrLub6EsKQCFZL92AodAmdczw

http://www.eqmltd.co.uk/dolphin_software.htm

http://www.equitrac.com

We still must remember that the audit trail is only a small part of the act and all other sections must be taken into account.

The other areas will be posted later in the same category.


ISO 17799 Background

Background and Overview of ISO 17799/27001(27001)

Sound information security is the cornerstone of sensible corporate governance. The emergence of an international standard to support this was perhaps, inevitable.

However, it took until the second half of the 1990’s for this process to really take shape.

ISO 17799 is often used as a generic term to describe what actually is two different documents they are: ISO17799 (aka ISO 27002), which is a set of security controls (a code of practice), and ISO 27001 (formerly BS7799-2), which is a standard ‘specification’ for an Information Security Management System (an ISMS).

Before the international information security standard known as ISO 17799, there was the preceding British Standard BS7799, published by the British Standards Institute (BSI).

The original BS 7799 had two parts. BS 7799 Part1 – Code of practice for informationsecurity management – established the overall requirements for an information securityprogram by breaking security into ten separate topic domains.           

BS 7799-1 was eventually adopted as the first international standard for information Security.

ISO 17799:2000. BS 7799 Part 2, entitled Information security management systems — Specification with guidance for use, was designed to allow an organization tobecome certified that it was following the techniques defined in Part 1 of the standard.        

Within Great Britain and around Europe hundreds of organizations became certifiedagainst BS7799. Up until last year, if an organization wished to become “certified” itcould only be done against the British Standard BS7799.

In 2005, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) took two important steps relating to information security. First, it updated ISO 17799:2000 and called it ISO17799:2005”) Second, it adopted the part 2 of BS7799 and released it as ISO/IEC 27001:

Information technology — Security techniques— Information security management systems — Requirements.. For the first time, organizations can get certified against the ISO 17799:2005 standard.

By definition, ISO 17799:2005 and ISO 27001 are designed to be used by any organization in any industry. However, many smaller organizations may have troublemeeting some of the requirements of ISMS due to limited manpower and resources.

Basically, ISO 27001 sets out the requirements for how an organization can implement the security requirements of ISO 17799:2005. According to ISO 27001

“This International Standard has been prepared to provide a model for establishing,implementing, operating, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining and improving ,an Information Security Management System (ISMS).” According to the Standard, an ISMS is defined as

 “The management system includes organizational structure, policies, planningactivities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources.”

In other words, the ISMS encompasses your entire information security program,including its relation to other parts of the organization.

While ISO 27001 does not provide a complete prescription for a proper information security program it does list the various organizational  ,functions required for certification.