Licence To Heal

Health information and more.

Paper Still Haunts Workplaces

Posted on November 18th, 2015 by Dr. Fun!

pshwRemember how technology was supposed to liberate offices from the tyranny of paper? It didn’t.

Despite the near-universal use of computers in offices across North America, the paperless office has yet to become reality. However, Silanis Technologies Inc., a Montreal company, has come up with a solution that may not make paper disappear completely but could go a long way toward fulfilling the paperless promise.

Most documents today are created on computers and we could avoid the high cost of paper if we could just store them electronically.

Unfortunately, business requires signed originals.

Most engineering firms must comply with the ISO 9000 specification which requires that the authorization of technical documentation be verifiable, and that verification requires a signature.

However, simply affixing a digitized signature to an electronic document is no guarantee of authenticity. Anyone can scan someone else’s signature and print out a signed document.

Silanis, an archetypal two-guys-in-a-garage software company founded in 1992, has found a way to integrate the security of signed originals with the convenience of electronic documents. The company’s founding partners, director of engineering Tommy Petrogiannis and director of operations Joseph Sylvester, don’t have a fancy head office or hundreds of employees. What they have is a product called ApproveIt.

“ApproveIt is really a bridge technology,” says Petrogiannis. “We live in a hybrid world where we create documents electronically but we need them on paper for authorization purposes. The problem is that we have to manage both — you can’t just live in the electronic world.”

With ApproveIt, a user enters his signature into the program once, using a graphics tablet or a digitizing pad that the company rents to its clients.

To sign a document, the user needs only to select the “approve” function from a special ApproveIt menu that appears in WordPerfect, Microsoft Word or AutoCAD and then enter his password.

ApproveIt isn’t the only electronic approval program on the market, but it’s the only one that provides the security of a password-protected signature. The program places a small grey box containing the user’s name and date of approval where the signature would appear.

This is replaced by the user’s signature itself when the document is printed.

“The grey box provides the security,” says Petrogiannis. “No one can just cut and paste my signature from another document.”

For an increasingly wired world, ApproveIt may provide the perfect link between electronic commerce and traditional paper documents.

“For example, a salesman could sign a contract, and send it over the Internet to a client,” says Petrogiannis. “Then he could sign it and send it back. That way, both parties would have a verifiable, original document without ever leaving their offices.”

ApproveIt’s other features — like a comprehensive audit trail that records every time a document has been approved, and a verification function that can determine whether a document has been altered down to a single character of text — provide additional security.

The program saves this information in a tiny “fingerprint” file that adds less than 2 KB to the size of any document. In contrast, a scanned document can occupy as much as 300 KB per page.

Engineering companies that have to keep track of multiple revisions of documents in compliance with ISO 9000 are particularly interested in the AutoCAD version of the ApproveIt program.

“(Previously) if we had seven versions of a drawing, we had to store seven different pieces of paper,” says John Ralph of Swales Associates, a major NASA contractor in Washington D.C.

“Now we don’t keep any full-sized copies. At our office at the Goddard Space Center, we’ve probably reduced our paper files to 25 per cent of the previous volume.” While saving space was a principal consideration in Swales’ decision to use ApproveIt, the company was also interested in the program’s security features.

“One of the requirements of our contract with NASA is that we exercise complete control over our designs,” says Ralph. “Every change to every drawing has to be documented.”

At ABB, an electrical engineering firm in Varennes, Que., the issue is internal accountability and time savings. The company has been reducing its use of paper for several years, in order to cut down the length of time it takes to get a design from the drawing board to the production line.

“The transmission of documents used to be on paper,” says ABB spokesperson Michel Filion.

“If an employee wants the last version of a drawing, he can go to the central database on the company network and retrieve an authorized document.”

ABB hasn’t completely implemented ApproveIt, but Filion believes that the program will ultimately save the company a great deal of time and money.

“The great advantage is that we don’t have to store copies of drawings, and we can be sure that everyone in the company has access to the last versions,” he says.

“This will reduce the time cycle of getting a design into production from five days to almost immediately.”

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Copyright © 2013 Licence To Heal.