By Motz, Arlene A.
Records Management Quarterly , Vol. 32, No. 3
In today's work environment, most employees have access to a computer with e-mail, Internet, and Web capabilities. Because an intranet is based on the data communication standards of the public Internet and the World Wide Web that are already in place in most organizations, this dynamic way of linking people and information can provide an inexpensive alternative to other forms of communication.
Because Web browsers run on any type of computer, electronic information can be viewed by an employee. This means that documents such as internal phone books, procedure manuals, forms, and training materials can be converted to electronic form on the intranet and continuously updated at minimal cost. By using the power and timeliness of intranets, records managers can provide information that is immediate, cost effective, easy to use, rich in format, and versatile.
Although many companies have started to set up intranets, they have focused primarily on limited internal information. As intranets evolve, they will have the capacity to include new types of applications, such as collaborative functions, and information sharing, and will extend to the department and workgroup levels, to offices at world-wide locations and to business partners and clients.
By presenting information in the same way to every computer, records managers will have access to employees and information that computer and software makers have frequently promised but never delivered - the ability to pull all the computers, software, and databases together into a single system that enables employees to find information wherever it resides.
What records management objectives can be realized using the power and capabilities of intranets?
* Control the Creation and Growth of Documents. Using intranets, records managers can update and deliver information almost instantly. Regardless of the location of the employees or the business partner, access to intranets allows even remote users to be as up-to-date as those workers on site. Advantages, such as updating of forms and manuals, collaboration, project management, version control, data accuracy, control of authorized users (for viewing and making changes in documents), distribution control, data integrity, and data collecting, empowers employees to put their best foot forward.
Example: By publishing multimedia files on intranets, HBO is saving thousands of dollars previously incurred for the printing and duplicating of videocassettes and the distribution of marketing campaign materials to 200-300 representatives. The intranet eliminates the time and effort involved in distributing these materials and gives the sales force instant access from any location.
* Reduce Operating Costs. To talk of the paperless office is fantasy, but to talk about reducing the need for paper documents using intranets can be a reality. If records managers can assure employees that information is available on-line, they may be less likely to need paper copies "for their files" or "for their staff" or "for later reference." In addition, timely and up-to-date information can result in improved communication to vendors, customers, and agencies that can help to control or reduce costs.
Through dial-up or hardwired links between sites, intranet document management system users can access information anywhere in the organization while saving time, money and paper. Intranets can be used to publish, update, store, backup, protect, and distribute information - an opportunity for records managers to shine.
Example: General Electric is saving $240,000 a year in printing costs by using its intranet to publish a directory of company information that is always up-to-date.
Example: At Ford Motor Company, an intranet linking design centers in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. helps engineering design the Ford Taurus.
* Improve Efficiency and Productivity. …