Document management in Government or any other organization is extremely important because not only to facilitate the documents retrieval, but also to reinforce the competitive power of the organization. The e-office system was introduced to manage the existing administrative setup, where users can create official letters, make easy dispatching, receive letters, reply letters and make note-sheets and so on. There has been a mismanagement of File and recordkeeping system across the all Governmental setups and feel immersed in documentation and record keeping. The larger the organization, the more documents it generates on daily basis, and therefore more hectic it’s to manage.
According to the report by “The Economic Times”, Plans are afoot to shift all files to e-office system before the ‘Darbar Move’ shifts to and fro Jammu/Srinagar before summer/winter. the thought of switching to e-office is to eliminate manual file movement completely. The Jammu Kashmir will soon get obviate its worn-out baggage of primitive sort of working because it goes to adopt best practices aimed toward improving the efficiency in disposal of official business in-line with the spirit of Digital India Initiative. The shift to e-Office will bring a substantial improvement within the pace of disposal of official files and establish accountability through monitorable statistics of file movement, thereby improving public service delivery. allow us to first understand the Analytics of the E-office, albeit I’m not knowledgeable IT person. My experience with E-Office File Management System has been improved after joining the Govt services in AIGGPA, Bhopal, A registered body of Government of Madhya Pradesh under Public Service Management Department. During our Induction Training programme, In maiden address by Director of our Institute about E-Office (An IAS officer of the MP Cadre), I came to know about the concept of “E-Office”, which was seemingly a new concept of file management, in order to be a transparent way of tracking files, easy and anywhere accessibility by the officer who holds the official e-office account.
The E-Office aims to support governance by introduction simpler and transparent inter and intra-government processes. The vision of e-Office is to realize a simplified, responsive, effective and transparent working of all government offices. The Open Architecture on which e-Office has been built, makes it a reusable framework and a typical reusable product amenable to replication across the governments, at the central, state and district levels. the merchandise brings together the independent functions and systems under one framework. E-Office project under e-Kranti which is that the 5th pillar of Digital India is being increasingly adopted by central and government Departments for achieving the target of Governance with Accountability, Transparency and Innovation (GATI). it’s a crucial breakthrough towards strengthening the govt al decision-making machinery by extending the utilization of recent information and communication technology to the Government processes. E-Office provides numerous advantages, the first motivating factor that leads organizations towards the adoption of E-Office is that the mitigation of the difficulties in managing the legacy system.
In Place like J&K, Where Administrative set-up has been functioning at snail’s pace from past decades, I have myself observed that my father’s pension file took almost 2.5 years to settle, after serving the Department for more than 4 Decades. The reasons are infinite in number and better not to discuss here, Whereas States who have adopted E-Office in this Tech-Savvy Era, it normally takes three to four days in order for a file to move across all the levels, depending on the urgency of the file, but it is largely determined by the employees handling the file movement. The amount of time increases with inter-departmental file movement i.e. files moved and exchanged between the Departments. Similarly, in case, any new circular, notice which needs to be circulated to all employees, section or to the selected group of officers of Ministry(s)/Department(s), then it requires lot of paper movement by creating multiple photocopies of concerned paper resulting in delay and at times not reaching to the concerned. Governments produce and manage immense volumes of documents (Files/ OMs/APARs), which plays an integral role in decision-making process. Physical file management has always been a part of the Government. The manual system of movement/distribution of these documents has several challenges for the effective functioning/monitoring. The challenges are; difficulty in searching, retrieving and tracking when needed. The storage of the files is another challenge, both in terms of storage and secure preservation. Every organization has record room/section where Files/Circulars/APARs are kept when the file count grows large. The sheer number of documents generated owing to the manual system adds the complexity in search and retrieval. At times the communications for files requirement is not effective and comprehended incorrectly, leading to multiple repetitions of the exercise, resources, and effort. As the entire system is paper-based, it becomes vulnerable to destruction by other means such as fire, flood, insects, rats or fungus. Protecting the files kept in record rooms from wear and tear and any misuse is a major challenge. At times receipts are received printed on thermal paper which fades and ultimately vanishes over time, making the documents unreadable. Also, in unforeseen events such as fire, earthquake, etc. Physical Files may be lost forever. Same applies to employee APARs and office orders/circulars etc. Officials find it difficult to carry out an efficient monitoring as it is tedious to compile the performance details of the Department such as; created files count, files pendency, disposal of time bound files etc. Compilation of such information takes long time and also suffers from inaccuracies and gaps in data. This affects the overall disposal of cases.
- Enable organizations to integrate their workflows/ systems with e-Office to seek approvals in e-File using standard based approach.
- Pre-designed templates for Draft for Approval (DFA) creation.
- Inter/Intra Department and Inter/Intra Instance File Exchange.
- Tracking and Monitoring of VIP References.
- Digital Signatures (DSC) and e-Sign enabled.
- Integration with Knowledge Management System (KMS) application of e-Office.
- Comprehensive MIS Reports to view output in HTML, PDF and Excel format.
- Integration with External Application(s) using APIs.
- Common document repository with user defined folder structure and role-based access.
- Online Document creation with version, roles and access control.
- Sharing and Collaboration of documents with Folder Subscription for specific updates.
- Electronic Notice Board for published documents.
- Comprehensive search and retrieval of published documents.
- Integration with File Management System (e-File) application of e-Office.
Success of e-Office would be measured by the simplification it brings in Government processes and procedures, elimination of unproductive/ non value-adding work, and reduction in paperwork. There is no dearth of Innovative minds across the Administrative set-up of Jammu and Kashmir, even some exemplary works has been done over by the young officers at the Bureaucratic and “Babu” (Clerk) levels. It is really a welcome step by the Government of introducing E-Office in Governance system, if implemented in Letter and Spirit, which will eradicate the loop-holes in delivering the good governance system at grass root levels. Majorly Workflow automation including standardization & automation of repetitive processes/work flows, Quick disposal of files and timely monitoring of pending files, Productivity management (dashboard view, performance management, file tracking), Transparency and Accountability has been one of the best advantages brought by e-Office and Cost Effectiveness, Paperless work not exactly cent percent but a major portion of saving public exchequer’s money can be initiated in first place. Moreover, it has a user-friendly experience of working from anywhere with the only requirement of the Internet Connection and a smartphone or a personal Laptop. An orientation and capacity building programme for the office bearers is mandatory for its effective implementation.
Note: The author is an Aspiring Food Technologist, Writer and opinions expressed are subject to the literature review from various sources viz, MEITY, NIC, Govt of India.