George Washington’s Parchment Inbox???

Washington's Inbox?I have a hobby outside of obsessing about the best way to automate data entry in a claims department or underwriting process: it is collecting quotes. Most of my favorites come from the founding fathers, although I have collected ones from figures throughout history. I thought I would start out with a post that helps people understand what this site is about.

We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.
George Washington

You see, I have come by most of my lessons through “dearly bought experience”. The way I learn is by going through it first and understanding. Since most of my lessons where so expensive, I thought I would use them for something other than for the benefit of my customers. I would hope that I can share some of the things I have learned without my readers having to pay such a steep price.
So what of Washington’s inbox? We have all heard of the paperless office. I think I read that King George predicted the paperless office all the way back in the 17th century (kidding of course). So far it has not come to pass. Turns out that Washington’s inbox was not as full of parchment as you might think that the father of our nation would be. Surely there was much him to see to when leading a new a country – even one that focused on a small government to serve the people.

It turns out that there is an inverse relationship between the real cost (adjusted for inflation) to send a piece of paper, and the amount of paper being used. The bad news is that the curve over the last 20 years has been getting rather steep. Even with the recent increase in the price of a first class stamp, the cost of sending a letter has massively lagged inflation. Faxes and emails have sped up the decline in the average cost even further. One would think the use of email alone would eliminate piles of paper by the truckload. This has not been the case.

According to a research study I finished in 2006, over 97% of all paper transactions that have to be data entered or scanned into an archive and indexed started out as an electronic transaction. That may not be too shocking until you realize the number includes paper transactions received from other business units at the same company or sometimes even within a single department!

At the paper_inbox, we will give you tips bought with real world experiences that can help your get your inbox back to a state of some 230 years ago. Until that day when all business transactions can be made electronic, we will have to find ways to streamline and automate the paper in our processes.

What are your findings and experiences? Do you see an end to paper any time soon?


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