Digital records are a must

Wetumwene Shikage
Delano January

Recently, some articles in the newspapers made my mouth drop open in amazement. It is said that the organisation tasked with handing out money and financial support to our students is facing severe challenges in collecting the loans that had been doled out to them. Some of the reasons given were that they couldn’t trace people and that their manual database made their work very difficult and time-consuming. As always, we need to be careful and not assume that the article is wholly accurate, but even if part of it is accurate, how can we in this day and age still work with manual databases and not be able to trace former loan recipients? We could probably just check Instagram or TikTok to find them.

We are constantly filling out forms, giving details, applying and registering for things. These days, the forms are usually sent to us by email after requesting them via phone calls or online, and if we are lucky, we can just download the forms from the website. However, once the document is digitally ours, we then have to print it out, fill it in and hope that they can read the different handwritings, proceed to scan the completed document and send it back. All in all, a very convoluted way of doing things, especially as there are so many easier ways to do it these days. Not only that, but by bringing these processes into the 21st century by using technology, we make things easier for customers, streamline processes, make documents searchable and can store them digitally instead of in costly warehouses and filing systems.

We know banks and other institutions in Namibia have started digitising their client records. This meant that records, applications, statements dating back years were now on the servers and no longer in hard copy. Meaning that clients could be assisted much more quickly, their queries and questions and status answered and retrieved in flash. Documents became sharable between departments and especially with people working from home, due to the pandemic employees could access them securely at home and thereby continue their work. It also meant that processing of documents became much quicker, saving time, effort and labour costs. Not to mention cutting down on simply carrying papers and documents from department to department and not having to manually do tedious paperwork.

The digitisation process was major project; however, the results and improved efficiency of the organisation is tangible at every level in the organisation. The data is also a lot more secure and less likely to get lost now that it is stored online and in the Cloud. Namibian organisations both public and private have an opportunity to ‘go digital’ and make their organisations more efficient and effective. Saving costs, improving engagement with their customers and giving a better level of service all-round. The technology is there and not using it, means potentially losing track of paying customers, or paying clients double or even worse never being able to recoup money that needs to be repaid.