Stemming the Paperwork Flood

[From iSource Business, April 2001] Building 12 hydroelectric power plants to tame the waters that flow through Brazil and Colombia was simple. Controlling the flood of paperwork that went along with that task was the hard part.

The blueprints. The job specification sheets. The work orders. The memos between managers or engineers. The surveys. The reports. The requests for changes. The printouts taken to meetings with clients.

Having spent years as a major worldwide player in the construction, installation and maintenance of massive electrical systems, ALSTOM Power is intimately familiar with this situation. So when the company started the South American projects earlier this year, executives decided they needed something to help stem the paper flood. They realized they couldn't stop the torrential rush, but they could at least build a dam to control it so it could be better managed, more easily accessed and more simply examined.

"Our projects are very long in years two, three, sometimes four years long, says Enzo Maimone, superintendent of hydro projects for ALSTOM Power. Sometimes we have to recollect an issue that was handled two or three years ago. It's very hard to find paper files, to find the minutes of meetings where we talked about the project to our client or minutes of discussions with one of our suppliers.

So Maimone turned to SiteScape, a software program that uses a Web site to keep up with a project's paperwork. Engineers, managers and administrative people can quickly search for a specific document, be it a specifications sheet, supplier's receipt or adjustment claim. Once a document is entered into the system, it's there for good, which eliminates the onerous task of shuffling through gargantuan mounds of papers stuck in boxes that are shoved into the dusty storage room in the back of the building.