Paper trails Featured

8:37am EDT March 28, 2003
The Enron scandal rocked financial markets and led to a lot of questions, mainly, "Who knew what and when did they know it?"

The problem is in identifying the truth amid the finger pointing.

Technology, in the form of document management, can bring a level of responsibility that will let corporate officers and shareholders alike sleep easier at night.

"This technology solution, if employed at Enron or WorldCom, may not have stopped what happened and may not have prevented anything, but at least there would have been a tracking mechanism that would have allowed investigators to follow the trail back to the source of the problem," says Michael Pray, vice president of Solon-based DocMan Technologies.

Document management basically takes a company's paperwork and indexes it for ease of use by others. Parameters can be set to limit viewing or editing access, and for accountability purposes, a paper trail is established that could serve as a deterrent to wrongdoing.

"The value in these systems is the indexing," says Pray. "The information is saved the same way and can be searched and retrieved. When information needs to be destroyed after a time, it can be destroyed or archived permanently, and the system can alert you to these tasks.

"Companies may have hundreds of users on a network that are creating documents and storing them on the network or on their hard drive. They can store the information wherever they want. Document management systems give you a point of access, a search and retrieve ability, and most importantly, security audit trails and document retention policies."

Pray says that while most larger companies have implemented physical building security, including some that track who accessed what room at what time, most have neglected to secure their documents.

"When you look back and read about all the corporate scandals and the companies that have been in the news, the concerns focus around e-mail conversations and who knew what," says Pray. "It's all about document trails, who had access to documents and who had the rights to alter or destroy what. There are technologies out there that can guard against the exposure and weaknesses that are in existing systems that open a company up to lawsuits." How to reach: DocMan Technologies, (440) 542-9660