The paperless campus: still a long way to go

Today I spent money from a research grant. Here is the process:

  1. I grab the form in Excel format.
  2. I fill it out.
  3. I print the form.
  4. I sign it.
  5. I give it to a secretary.
  6. The secretary gets the chair of my research center to sign it.
  7. The form is then sent to accounting, by internal mail (on paper).
  8. They review the form.
  9. They enter the data in a computerized database.

Suggesting that it could be improved using technology from this century is crazy talk.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

5 thoughts on “The paperless campus: still a long way to go”

  1. Reminds me of setting up an undergraduate senior project:

    1. Walk to Admin building, get form
    2. Walk 20 minutes to CS building, get signature from 1st advisor
    3. Schedule appointment with 2nd advisor, ride bus 30 minutes to sister campus, get signature
    4. Ride back to campus, go to honors building, get last signature
    5. Return to Admin building, turn in form.

    Is spending hours traveling between 2 schools and 4 buildings really the most efficient solution they’d thought of so far? Couldn’t we do this via fax instead of carbon paper filled out in triplicate?

  2. I share your frustration.
    I work in government funded research institution in Singapore. We have the top-of-the-line multi-million dollar ERP system in place where we can do everything from filing our leave to claiming expenses. BUT we still need to print the stuff we filed online, manually sign it, get it signed by a superior and then route it manually internally to a clerk who confirms it online.
    On the other hand, the Indian government is more paperless than most other places. Digital signatures have made their foray into the governance there.

  3. When it comes to money, people are very hesitant about digital signatures. And, of course, there is no one standard and it’s likely that whatever one chooses will become obsolete and unverifiable in less than the time period that records must be saved.

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