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14 posts

Geek


# 109444 19-Sep-2012 21:53
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Hi there Im no computer mastermind in fact Im rather lame but appreciate the fact that there is too much paper being used necessarily and therefore Im writing here to pick you guys brilliant minds to find a possible alternative to a current situation.

Ive recently got a new job working in NZ for the council. Part of my job is to compile adgendas, and reports from various internal and external (both paper supplied and electronic) sources information that is compiled into reports that are sent out to 31 people, a mixture of council members and the public, prior to regularly bi monthly meetings that take place at the council's offices. These "reports" are printed out, bound and despatched sometimes containing around 200 pages, which takes two days to compile, the print double sided, collate bind etc. Im looking for an alternative method of distribution and "round table" discussion (during the council meetings ) to cut down on administration/compilation and paper costs.

I was playing around with the Idea that possibly that all this information (not all supplied electronically) can be somehow compiled in one big file pdf or whatever? Then sent electronically prior to the upcomminng meeting to be viewed by each recipient. They then can chose to print off various pages they find interesting or feel warrant com ment personally prior to the meeting. At the meeting though every person due to be present has at the meeting room as a inhouse dedicated Tablet or screen that contains and electronic onscreen version of the adgenda/reports that can easily be followed move from page by page (bearing in mind some council members maybe less computer literate than others (so an easy to use hardware/software suggestion here please), and then as each subject on the adgenda is discuss, when the Mayor askes who agrees the motion and seconds it, the recommendation is some how logged on the screen.

So by the end of the meeting everything selected by each member is recorded on the individual screens to a central system, and therefore NO paper 250 page documents need to be sent out prior to the meeting or brought to the meeting to follow.

Any suggestions ideas in what kind of hardware would be cost effective alternative, easy to use (user friendly) bearing in mind some of the users are in their 60s, reduce administration time in compiling the reports. I dont feel character recognition software/scanners are an option, but maybe scanning pages "sent hardcopy" could be scanned as images and included?

I dont know Im no computer/technology genius, Im a secretary (end user) trying to find a way to reduce workload and save ongoing/long term paper costs.


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3892 posts

Uber Geek


  # 688477 19-Sep-2012 22:07
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PDF's are the right answer, but you need to think in terms of having a bunch of them for each meeting.

Have a look at the Christchurch City Council and how they publish PDFs on their web site.

Xerox have photo copiers which duplex scan documents directly to PDF then put them in a shared folder on your computer. So dealing with printed documents is easy enough.

You also need a simple content management system such as Wordpress to upload the documents to a public facing web server and provide a simple index. If you can drive Word then you can drive Wordpress (my 70 year old father does).

iPads or Android based tablets with a web browser is all you need for viewing the documents. My 4 year old can manage a web browser, I'm sure your 60 year old members will be able to manage.

There are annotation tools for PDFs, but I wonder if details such as voting should be recorded directly to the content management system as you go. Each issue should have a page, each page has the linked PDF, then you just record information you need to directly into the 'page' during the meeting. (If it's public facing then you might want some disclaimers in there to explain that page edits are draft until confirmed.)

The only issue I see is information that is held in committee. Depending on the content management system choice you can have page access restricted as well.





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Trusted

  # 688494 19-Sep-2012 23:17
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One of my customers does this for boards of directors and has a web based distribution system. This would be pretty similar but would need a "voting" add on which wouldn't be too hard for them to develop.

The other one to look at would be Diligent Board Reports (I think?) which does the same thing. I'll PM you their details.




Speedtest 2019-10-14


 
 
 
 


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  # 688495 19-Sep-2012 23:19
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Actually there is no button to PM you lol. Check out the page on the service here:
https://power-business.co.nz/index.php/solutions/eboard

I'd suggest you contact Desi or Narendra at the Auckland office.




Speedtest 2019-10-14


553 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 688507 20-Sep-2012 00:19
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Have you consulted your own IT department or are they pretty hopeles? I would have thought they have their own content management system and may have some existing systems for electronic documents.

From your post it appears your reason for going electronic seems to be mainly to reduce administration and paper costs for creating the hard copies. I think doing it for this reason alone may be a mistake; really you are just moving some of the workload from you/your department to each indivuidal attendee. If your councillors want hard copies and you send them electronic ones so they just have to print the hard copy themselves, this may not be good for the organisation even if it saves you a bit of time.

And any savings in print costs (if you are doing it in big copiers the printing costs must be less than $10 per unit including binding, plus staff time which is the real cost) will be eaten and then some by the extra time it will take to create/collate (and maintain, if you are keeping them in some repository) the electronic versions, ignoring the new hardware required.

Unless you have a need for longer term archive/retrieval of these documents or you need to send them to other stakeholders that don't attend these meetings, I am struggling to see the benefit.. in my experience most people prefer hard copies for this sort of thing anyway. Given that going electronic would be a significant change, I would be checking with the stakeholders first as their requirements may outweigh yours.

The meeting minutes/recording of decisions is another topic; hard to comment on this without knowing how its currently done.

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  # 688710 20-Sep-2012 11:44
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You probably also need to consult those who attend the meetings to see what they want along with argument of why you want to go down this path so that they understand.


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  # 688717 20-Sep-2012 11:48
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blair003: Have you consulted your own IT department or are they pretty hopeles? I would have thought they have their own content management system and may have some existing systems for electronic documents.

From your post it appears your reason for going electronic seems to be mainly to reduce administration and paper costs for creating the hard copies. I think doing it for this reason alone may be a mistake; really you are just moving some of the workload from you/your department to each indivuidal attendee. If your councillors want hard copies and you send them electronic ones so they just have to print the hard copy themselves, this may not be good for the organisation even if it saves you a bit of time.

And any savings in print costs (if you are doing it in big copiers the printing costs must be less than $10 per unit including binding, plus staff time which is the real cost) will be eaten and then some by the extra time it will take to create/collate (and maintain, if you are keeping them in some repository) the electronic versions, ignoring the new hardware required.

Unless you have a need for longer term archive/retrieval of these documents or you need to send them to other stakeholders that don't attend these meetings, I am struggling to see the benefit.. in my experience most people prefer hard copies for this sort of thing anyway. Given that going electronic would be a significant change, I would be checking with the stakeholders first as their requirements may outweigh yours.

The meeting minutes/recording of decisions is another topic; hard to comment on this without knowing how its currently done.


And if they all decide to print the entire thing out for themselves and then start presenting the bill for doing so, then it may cost you more than what you've saved to go electronic.

As I said in my other post, you need to consult them and get them to buy into it. If anywhere near half of them say they'll print them, or still want it printed, then status quo.

237 posts

Master Geek


  # 688740 20-Sep-2012 12:06
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My suggestion would be to create the source documents with some sort of mark-up language which has the ability to output either web pages or PDF's.

My suggestion would be LaTeX, This is very flexible but the syntax is difficult to use.

One stakeholder you have not considered is committee secretaries. My impression of them is they are formidable matrons who would not allow you to take MS Word from them other than from their cold dead hands.




Obsequious hypocrite

 
 
 
 




14 posts

Geek


  # 689002 20-Sep-2012 18:21
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Hi every one some really great replies here so thank you so much. I did have a chat with the inhouse IT department, and as I am now one of secretaries and it will be me composing, printing, binding and distributing these humungus documents, I really didnt want to have to keep doing it the way its been currently done. The chat with the IT department was actually quite positive however its justifying any spend with budgets etc. Ive suggested a book publishing (rather than a magazine publishing) software option and possibly scan the completed report as individual PDF pages, 's and then flowing them into a Publication software. Which will save time in producing the double sided copies, running the 200 plus pages through the photocopier to number the pages and then setting up the large A0 copier to collate and print them double sided etc as mistakes often happen and if two pages go through at once it means the whole job has to be redone, just more paper wasting. 

Even if I can convince the council to have paperless versions of the reports using software to reduce production and printing time and paper waste has to be a long term postive. Does anyone here know of any good Book style publishing software that can load PDF pages and flow pages in created sections autonumber pages etc. We dont need to create the pages in the software as they are done in WORD to a very specific style so the compilation publication software can be simple and allow page manipulation etc

Thanks every one you guys are awsome and so knowledgable

553 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 689010 20-Sep-2012 18:27
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If the documents are done in word, why do you need book style publishing software? What features does word lack that you need in this book publishing software?

Or are some documents done in word and others as PDF files?

gzt

11026 posts

Uber Geek


  # 689038 20-Sep-2012 19:04
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Hi Gerrygirl, you will find one of the primary uses of printed documents for use in meetings and elsewhere is making notes in the appropriate places (annotation) and use of sticky page book marks for fast reference in large documents. Not all electronic systems support these things well. Adobe has a suite built around Reader which is very very good at these things and even combining agreed changes if you want to go that far. Adobe is also good at handling documents which have no digital source.

Adobe has an iPad app - I have not used it but I'm guessing it does not contain all the functionality of the desktop version but fine for annotating and fast bookmark reference.

I have used Microsoft Word used for similar things (a few versions ago). It is a bit painful and fiddly in comparison because it takes a word processor approach rather than a document handling approach.

You will find some users will jump at the chance to go electronic and others will resist.

Prototype the change with some keen users who are already savvy enough and have their own gear and that will at least cut the collation time and effort to begin with.

[Edit: The above was not intended as an answer to your publishing question - but Adobe has several solutions for that side of things as well]

3892 posts

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  # 689074 20-Sep-2012 20:16
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Gerrygirl: Hi every one some really great replies here so thank you so much. I did have a chat with the inhouse IT department, and as I am now one of secretaries and it will be me composing, printing, binding and distributing these humungus documents, I really didnt want to have to keep doing it the way its been currently done. The chat with the IT department was actually quite positive however its justifying any spend with budgets etc. Ive suggested a book publishing (rather than a magazine publishing) software option and possibly scan the completed report as individual PDF pages, 's and then flowing them into a Publication software. Which will save time in producing the double sided copies, running the 200 plus pages through the photocopier to number the pages and then setting up the large A0 copier to collate and print them double sided etc as mistakes often happen and if two pages go through at once it means the whole job has to be redone, just more paper wasting. 

Even if I can convince the council to have paperless versions of the reports using software to reduce production and printing time and paper waste has to be a long term postive. Does anyone here know of any good Book style publishing software that can load PDF pages and flow pages in created sections autonumber pages etc. We dont need to create the pages in the software as they are done in WORD to a very specific style so the compilation publication software can be simple and allow page manipulation etc

Thanks every one you guys are awsome and so knowledgable


I'd be thinking your main driver should be the benefit to get information to stake holders more quickly.

They should also be sold the benefit that they then only need to print what they want printed and all the content is easier to store and search.

They also can't loose or misplace documents and all documents can be pushed into the public space more quickly and easily which also enhances the democratic process (if you're looking for a benefit they can translate to their community.)

I'm not sure why you're concerned about document page numbering.  I suspect you're not thinking the process though yourself that well yet.

With PDFs, the reader shows you the active page number in the reader and you can move to a set number.

Interestingly, this means that you should now number any document from 1, 2, 3 and never i,ii,iii, 1,2,3 because the reader would then report page 1 as being 'page 4'.

What you might then do is create a numbering system for documents as part of the title.

Meeting 1 - Document 1 - New Overpass and Housing Bill.

Meeting 1 - Document 2 - Members Leave Entitlements.

Meeting 1 - Document 3 - 10 Reasons to give all document managers a pay rise.

You mentioned page turns.  I suspect you're thinking about 'gestures' to move around the document.  Those are functions you should leave to the platform and applications.

I'd be having a look at document readers in iPad, Android and what ever that Windows platform is called.

The benefit of PDF is that it will carry to print with ease, and across platform including to laptops, netbooks and desktops as people need.

With respect to annotations, I really would be looking to people making notes on normal paper but giving them an easy way to reference the online document, hence why I suggested document numbering above.

I would give consideration to having a fast printer in the meeting room with wireless access though.  That way you can just print copies of things if there is a specific need for people to use a bit of paper.






Promote New Zealand - Get yourself a .kiwi.nz domain name!!!

Check out mine - i.am.a.can.do.kiwi.nz - don@i.am.a.can.do.kiwi.nz




14 posts

Geek


  # 689154 20-Sep-2012 23:58
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Hi DonGould I agree with your comments. The page numbering thing is just the way they have been doing things for years. Currently they put the whole report (200 pages or so) into one of the paper trays in the photocopier and then create a word document that is set up to print to the printer up to 200 pages and put a number in sequence on each of the report pages as they pass through the photocopier. Thats great so long as the printer doesnt stuff up and screw up one of the original report pages as it passes through the photocopier or take two pages at once and miss numbering a page.

When I spoke to the IT guy he told me hes been waiting for someone like me to suggest this as he believes too the current system is a joke and was only created to be done this way because the secretaries dont know any better. Because I come from a publishing background, Ive kind of come into this situation with different eyes, so he too wants to see the current system change as he agreed its crazy, long winded, very precarious in terms of relying that the repeated photocopying process work in the numbering and the double sided copying and dont bug out! Its like a game of poker every time you do a report, as it takes a whole day to get these reports from final singled sided signed pages to the final product, and they have to go out the same day, it means nothing can go wrong in terms of equipment, making sure youve manually calculated it correctly when working out left and right hand pages falling on the correct page during printing, rather than at the electronic creation stage i.e. a DTP package of some sort, that way everything is seen as a final document on screen all numbered correctly, section header pages all fall on a right hand page. Then and only then its printed once! Then if still required photocopied as a final product rather than the current way of creating the final two sided page document on the fly using the photocopier. Its madness.

I too feel pdf files would be best as some of the pages are signed by the CEO and directors (and we are not allowed to use electronic signatures), that way the whole document is scanned and then flowed onto individual pages. I used to use Ventura PUblisher back in the day when I was the Production editor for a Report based magazine a bit like Which without the adverts. So I would sometimes get 40 pages of editorial and I would open a section template and as it was a Book Publishing package the editorial would just keep flowing and creating new pages until the text finished. However in this case I wil not be flowing raw text with designed style sheets, as this is already done before they are signed off. So even if I scanned 60 pages in one section of the report, Im hoping it is possible for the output file will recognize that it isn't one big long page, but 60 individual pages in one file? This way, I can create each section of the report as soon as its signed off, and repeat the process with all the different sections then instantly link all the sections together in the right order and page number the lot. If I have to insert a page last minute the software should allow for the adjusting the page numbering automatically. So basically what Im looking for is software that will see every page as basically being a snap shot of an A4 page, so I cannot alter the text on the page, but can move them around rotate them if necessary but thats it.

Today was a great example of why I feel this idea is a good one. This afternoon all the reports were sent out, to arrive at the recipients in Friday's post in readiness for the Tuesday Committee Meeting. The CEO came in and said to me this morning I just got a call from the Asset director he told me he forgot to include four report pages, but its too late now they will have to go into next months Policy and Services report. I was so close to saying WELL IF we did it THIS way Its no biggie, (as there would have still been 5 hours before the post van arrived) I wouldnt have needed to print them till say 3pm, therefore I could have included those pages this morning no problem. But because it takes at least one whole day to compile them the way they currently do it, you start the photocopying process the afternoon before postage day.

Jax

88 posts

Master Geek


  # 690077 23-Sep-2012 08:21
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Definitely consider this one:
http://www.boardbooks.com/
It is designed for exactly this scenario

NZ based office to speak/demo with


237 posts

Master Geek


  # 690103 23-Sep-2012 10:44
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Printer manufactures who supply the corporate sector often have their own integrated proprietary document creation work flow and distribution systems.

It would be worthwhile asking the outfit your org leases its printers from if they have a solution.




Obsequious hypocrite

3 posts

Wannabe Geek


  # 690595 24-Sep-2012 12:57
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Hi GerryGirl,

I have been reading your posts and I think I have the exact solution you are after. My name is Wade Gill and I am the New Zealand Account manager for Diligent Boardbooks (www.boardbooks.com). As another poster mentioned we are New Zealand Company based out of Christchurch. Diligent Boardbooks is the global leader of electronic board portals by a large margin. We have over 1450 Companies and over 2000 boards (including 119 Fortune 500 and 224 Fortune 1000 companies) – All of whom use the system a little differently.

We offer the flexibility to be able to view your material on line of Offline with the use of a PC, Ipad or Tablet, witht he additional ability to print if you like. It is a simple matter of uploading your documents to your secure portal (in .doc, docx, rtf, pdf, xls, xlsx, csv, ppt, pptx, txt, gif, jpg, png formats)

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss your requirements further. Please feel free to call me directly +64 3 977 5537 or 0800 345 443

Kind regards,

Wade Gill

New Zealand Account Manager – Diligent Boardbooks

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