Toll from lost documents put at millions of dollars

WORKING DIGEST

March 15, 2006|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Every lost piece of paper costs a business $120, Gartner Group says. And 15 percent of all paper handled in businesses is lost, according to Delphi Group, a Boston consultancy. It said 30 percent of employees' time is spent trying to find lost documents. Messy desks, messy computers, messy calendars are messing up the economy, if what the consultants say is true. (Or maybe they are just trying to sell document-management software, file folders and paper clips. Even so, people are buying.) In 2000, consultants for Connecticut-based Gartner estimated that, by 2003, the average professional would waste 30 percent to 40 percent of his time on "document-related non-value-added tasks," i.e., paper shuffling. Now some of that wasted time has moved from paper to electronics, with the volume of e-mail projected to rise 30 percent a year through 2008. Figuring that the average professional makes at least $1,000 a week, that's $15,600 to $20,800 wasted per year per worker. Keep on multiplying. A company with 100 professionals could lose more than $1.5 million a year. Canadian analysts calculated in 2002 that poorly managed information was costing the Canadian government $870 million a year in wasted time. And in the United States, consultants found we're no better at managing our time. Professionals lose 2.1 hours of productivity a day to "unimportant interruptions and distractions." That's $588 billion a year, according to Basex Inc., a research and consulting group in New York.

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