A Year of PrimeBox: Paper rules

Many businesses large and small are looking at the idea of going “paperless”. PrimeBox will never go paperless.

The reason for this is simple. Paper rules.

Whenever you're at a computer, you're likely multi-tasking. You will have different websites open, maybe have a couple of email clients open, and an array of different software. Sometimes with all of that going on, you need space to think.

A computer monitor can't really give you that. At least not all of the time. I work with two monitors, splitting things like email, task lists and timesheets onto one and anything else on the other

I was recently working on product management for PrimeBox's e-commerce system. A product could have hundreds of variations, with attributes such as colour, size, etc. Rather than make someone adding a product to the website spend hours on each product, I wanted to develop a simple form which, once filled in, would automatically create every variant required.

In theory, very simple. For every colour, you will have a combination that includes a different size. So for 6 colours and 6 sizes, you'll have a total of 36 variations of one product. If you had three attributes, such as colour, size, and neckline, with two neckline options (V-neck, round neck), you'd have 72 options.

Easier said than done definitely applied to this when I started coding. I started typing out some notes, including a step by step process, but was really struggling to visualise it. After a while, I pull my notepad from across the desk, took a pencil, and draw diagrams, and a couple of flowcharts. Within around about 20% of the time I'd spent doing my notes on the computer, I'd got a full plan on paper.

With paper, you can't multi-task. It's just you, a pen, and the paper. Nothing appears on the paper unless you put it there, so there's no email notifications, no task list to distract you. It's also quicker.

While I'm very fast at typing (150 words per minute being the fastest I've recorded), creating diagrams on a computer takes me way longer. Partly because I become concerned with how it looks, and partly because you have to change between different tools to get the job done. With paper, the only tool is a pen, and it can be scruffy.

While I would always discourage printing off emails, proposals, and other documents, I would never discourage writing notes on paper. At most I get through 1-2 A4 sheets of paper a week, and when I'm done with them they get recycled. I think that's just as green and much more efficient than going entirely paperless!

Posted by Ant on the 28th December 2013 at 6:18pm. (0 comments)

Categories: Business

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