Automation of the Approval and Control Process of Documents

Automation of the Approval and Control Process of Documents

Rui Pedro Figueiredo Marques (ALGORITMI, Universidade do Minho, Portugal), Henrique Manuel Dinis dos Santos (Universidade do Minho, Portugal) and Carlos Alberto Lourenço dos Santos (Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1764-3.ch016
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Abstract

Traceability systems, including the approval and control of documents, are increasingly assuming a pivotal role in the workflow of information across an organization and they can be classified as an element of any internal control system at the organizational context which contributes for a continuous auditing and helps to manage and minimize organizational risk. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a technology that can enable the development of architectures which provide an adequate response to this requirement of internal control. Thus, this chapter, as main objective, raises awareness of the importance of these systems in an organizational environment. Moreover this chapter’s objective is to propose a modular and flexible solution which simultaneously traces, monitors, and searches the flow and location of documents in an organization, using RFID technology.
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Introduction

Traceability systems of documents have been increasingly critical to ensure an efficient document management in an organizational environment and consequently an essential internal control system. Thus these systems are contributing for a continuous auditing as a tool to help manage and minimize organizational risk. This type of systems is an important asset for organizations where the documents have a high value and where the temporary or permanent loss of documents has negative impacts on the organization (Marques, Santos, & Santos, 2010).

A business process can involve different actors and can be seen as a set of activities formalized by a set of actions and procedures. In general, there is a sequential order between the activities and, for example, an activity can start only when other activities have been concluded. In these activities some paper documents can be produced from some offices and/or signed from the person in charge. For example, legal, administrative, financial and government business processes are characterized by paper documents, and it is difficult to follow and locate all these documents during their management. In addition, they and their correlations with other documents can be lost (Bodhuin, Preziosi, & Tortorella, 2006). Thus, Bodhuin et al. (2006) consider that a control of the causal relations of paper documents and their flow could represent a way for improving the organizational business.

In addition, Marques et al. (2010) affirm that in the definition of documental control function and in the identification of the respective responsible it is common to meet the required document cycles and their verification. Thus, associated with the business processes of any organization there is a set of documents that requires monitoring so that you can have access to all orders and information about them formally drawn up and so that you can clearly identify employees who carried out operations as well as their efficiency on that (Marques et al., 2010).

Moreover, the approval and control of documents can be identified as an essential component of an internal control system even because this definition is supported by some legislation, regulation and other standards, such as ISO/IEC 27001:2005, ISO 9001:2000 and some official charts and plans of accounting refer the necessity for control of documents.

Any type of organization (public or private) can benefit from the adoption and use of traceability systems for documents, for example hospitals or other health institutions, government offices, bookshops, libraries, law or accountancy firms, and other organizations with large volume and flow of documents (Marques et al., 2010). Easily we can find very common everyday scenarios in organizations which clearly demonstrate the necessity of an efficient document management. Just as an example (Bodhuin, Preziosi, & Tortorella, 2007):

  • An accounting office is obliged to keep payment receipts, faxes, invoices and other paper documents for a given number of years, in accordance with the current body of legislation;

  • Staff’s private information (e.g., curricula, contracts) are stored and their access must be mandatorily secure;

  • Some administrative procedures have to follow a given bureaucratic course to be concluded. A sequence of operations or given orders often have to cross a certain number of places and people, and some users could need to know the state of these procedures before taking their decisions.

With reference to the traceability, management and control of state and location of paper documents several rewards emerge, such as: reduction in the number of errors and fraudulent and irregular operations with consequent economic advantages, additional meticulous ability for scheduling, planning and making decisions, reduction of time for performing a business process and more control on a business process. These organizational advantages are possible because the documental management allows to check whether certain documents were properly and timely made, verify who took which document, detect whether a document is outside of the defined and/ or authorized circuit within organization and whether a given document suffers an interruption or delay (Bodhuin et al., 2006, 2007; Marques et al., 2010).

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