Practicing What You Preach: My Commitment To A Biro-Free Existence

Today’s read here on thedmcollaborators is brought to you by my good self – and some rather shiny new hardware.

To prevent any confusion, I shall be fulfilling the role of narrator in this captivating story, while that selfsame shiny new hardware will be playing – drum roll – the part of, er, shiny new hardware!

OK – I admit this doesn’t sound like the most gripping of story lines. But while possibly not exactly as cool as the latest Mission Impossible action film, I promise it’ll make up for that in terms of a whole load of document management geekdom.

It was a cold, damp morning in the spring of 2015. On your author’s desk, a solitary laptop clicked and whirred into life. As boot activity slowed, the machine became more responsive to its operator’s wishes. The request for the email client was honoured  – eventually. And slowly, the night’s email filtered into the inbox. Junk, Junk, Junk, important – to action, junk, junk, ju… no, wait, what was this? An advert for shiny new hardware. Instantly eye-catching. An email deserving of more attention. The operator closed his eyes and inhaled with anticipation. Opening his eyes and exhaling slowly, the operator began to read…

Poetic licence aside, that pretty much sums up how I came to find out about said shiny new hardware – a device that on paper (figuratively speaking), looked like it might make a valuable contribution in the quest for the paperless office – another weapon in the endless fight against paper.

The device in question? Well that would be Microsoft’s Surface 3. Since Microsoft first announced the Surface line of portable computers, my interest has been piqued. But since the earlier versions of the hardware were paired with a limited version of the Windows operating system, I had steered clear. Instead, like many others, I’d opted to go down the Apple route, choosing the iPad as my go to portable device for content creation.

After a few years of ownership though, I’d found myself needing more. I actually needed what the Surface 3 was offering: it ticked the portability box the same as the iPad did, but then went and ticked a lot more – relatively low cost, large local storage, full enterprise OS (Office 2013 anyone? No – how about Photoshop, then? Or any 32/64 bit Windows program that runs on a laptop/desktop?).

The clincher though – and the reason that I placed a pre-order that very same day – was the precision input; using the pen technology integrated in the Surface Pro 3.

So, if you can’t tell by now, the thought of the Surface 3 excited me.

A lot.

It could be a laptop. It could be a tablet. But more importantly (in my opinion), it had the potential to be a digital writing pad as well – capable of doing away with one of the last bastions of paper usage, the note. Think about it: whether those are business meeting notes, the solution draft, or the quick jottings scribbled down whilst taking a call, we often run into circumstances where it’s all too tempting to reach for the pen and paper, which in turn creates situations where valuable information can be lost.

As in, how many times have you hand written your meeting notes, yet not typed them up? How many iterations of a database/UX/a.n.other design have you roughed out on paper before going anywhere near development tools?

I’d say plenty, but I’m as guilty as the next person, and I’m supposed to practice what I preach!

And – another drum roll, please – has that great aim been delivered? Progress has been slower than I anticipated. I’m only just beginning to scratch the surface (no pun intended) on how this pen stuff can improve my day-to-day workflow – and I wouldn’t be surprised to find something new is already on the market by the time this post is published, given the pace of technology progress!).

But things are starting to improve. I’m creating more content digitally from the process start. Reaching for the device, rather than the paper, is becoming more of a reflex action than a conscious decision.

I can honestly say that I’ve become my own real world example to my clients on how technology like this can help with their document management scenarios. And that’s fine with me.

I’ll come back soon and let you know how I’m doing, if you like?

The author is Director at Xpress Document Solutions, an independent consultancy which focuses on identifying and establishing your document management requirements

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