By John Rupe
The paperless movement is still going strong, proving it was more than just a passing fad when it first ignited more than a decade ago. In fact, the idea of a paperless office was conceived way back in 1975, when Business Week published an article touting office automation would render paper almost useless.
We’re not quite to that point right now, but many offices are already seeing the benefits of trading their paper files for electronic documents. Research has revealed a number of hidden costs to sticking with a paper-based system, including the following:
- An average of $120 in labor costs to find a misfiled document
- $220 to reproduce a lost document
- $25,000 to fill a four-drawer filing cabinet, and another $2,160 per year to maintain the cabinet’s content
- About 75% of time spent working with paper documents is wasted on filing and searching
Unsurprisingly, the USA is still the top consumer of paper products, accounting for nearly 46% of paper consumption. There’s plenty of opportunity for companies to adopt greener paper practices, particularly in offices where high paper consumption has become par for the course.
It’s no surprise that companies are eager to find a better way to manage their time, cut costs, and provide a better experience to workers and clients alike. Focusing on the productivity aspect alone may be best positioned to solve all of the above — here’s how.
1. E-Documents Become Searchable
Most of us have read entire documents searching for a single sentence, and wasted precious minutes in the process. Multiply these minutes’ times the number of instances you’re searching for information and you likely waste hours per year — time that could be better spent on revenue-generating activities.
Electronic documents are easily searchable (the CTRL + F shortcut has been a major timesaver for busy executives), giving you an easy way to avoid wading through an ocean of data on a quest for a small bit of information.
In addition, you can search your database for the documents you need rather than combing through individual files. This is especially helpful if documents were misfiled in the first place.
2. Organization Improves Efficiency and Effectiveness
As time spent on filing and searching decreases, efficiency and effectiveness automatically increase. You’re better able to respond to clients and stakeholders in a timely manner, which also allows you to service more clients and stakeholders during the workday.
3. Multiple Users Can Access the Same Documents
When you have paper documents, you either have to photocopy those documents so other users can access them, or share the same document. This often comes down to a decision between saving time versus saving on printing costs.
With digital files, multiple users can access your database at the same time, even stakeholders that are outside of your organization. If you use document scanning services to put your files in the cloud, employees can view, edit, and manage documents from their smartphone or tablet that allows them to be productive even outside of the office.
4. Files Can Be Easily Shared
Traditionally, companies that needed to share files with clients, employees, or other stakeholders would have to copy the document and mail it to the recipient. Email helped to change this game somewhat by allowing you to send attachments, but there’s still the hassle of scanning documents one by one and sizing them correctly for email requirements (most email programs limit the size of attachments). Depending on how many pages you’re sending, this entire process could take hours!
But as companies switch to a digitized document database, sending and sharing files becomes a matter of selecting the digital file and emailing it to or sharing access with your recipient. There’s no need to bring your workday to a grinding halt to scan and send documents.
5. Scanned Documents are Harder to Lose
When your documents are in the cloud, they become easier to track and harder to lose. Anyone who has worked with paper documents in the past knows the struggle of managing paper copies and the heart-stopping fear when papers go missing.
Digital documents are backed up and stored for the long term. Even if they become accidentally deleted, there’s usually a way to get them back.
Document Scanning Services is an Investment
Initially, one of the challenges of moving to a paper-free work zone was the sheer amount of paper already in the workflow. If companies suddenly started digitizing processes, they would lose the functionality and benefits of all the files they’d generated in the physical world. But now, with advanced document scanning services, companies now have a better path to making the transition.
Small businesses and large corporate enterprises alike are shifting to a digitized database, helping them to reduce costs, improve productivity, and become less dependent on printing and paper-based workflows in the process.
Is it time for your organization to join the movement?Featured photo credit: Depositphotos
You made a great point about how scanned documents can be harder to lose. One of my problems growing up in the early 2000s is that it’s easy to lose things that I need when registering for IDs when I became an adult. Document scanning is a good step towards a paperless future.