Digital transformation is the process by which an organization moves its documents and workflow to a digital platform. This is obviously not a transformation that happens overnight. At the same time, it is an investment that quickly proves itself worthwhile. A significant amount of digital transformation is “going paperless.”
The idea of an entirely paperless office has existed since personal computers became the basis of the modern workplace. Despite the prevalence of electronic documents and email, most organizations still rely on paper documents. There are many benefits to going paperless, from saving resources to boosting security; yet from handouts at meetings and on-boarding documents to receipts, many business processes still revolve around paper. While it’s easy to guess that paper document reduction is part of the plan, there’s far more to it than that. Here are some reasons why you should go paperless and what it means for your Business.
Time spent filing, organizing, and searching for paper documents is time that could be spent on more productive tasks. Digitized documents are stored in a central repository, which is basically a well-organized digital filing cabinet where all of your documents live.
Using digital document management solutions and document management software, you’ll get to harness the same powerful search abilities that you’re used to using on Google. This means employees can find files at the click of a button, much more quickly than the laborious, manual process of searching for a specific file in a buried folder. Employees are able to use this extra time on revenue-generating projects.
Paper takes up a lot of space – as do filing cabinets and space to store those filing cabinets. Books and bookshelves are bulky, too. What’s worse, paper keeps piling up, oftentimes accumulating more quickly than it can be sorted and organized. This is particularly true of industries that have long mandatory retention periods for paperwork like the financial industry.
Digitizing files allows you to store all documents either on an on-premises server or in the cloud. Digital file folders in a repository require much less space than a physical records archive.
Going digital improves process efficiency, saving you money. Paperless offices can process a much larger volume of paperwork compared to traditional offices in the same amount of time.
Further, digitization reduces money spent on paper, printers, ink, postage, office space for files and employee time to manage paperwork. The savings on employee time become especially valuable in regards to regulatory audits and repetitive, high-volume tasks like expense reimbursements.
Eases Transfer of Information
Document management software offers a simple process for saving documents. The software easily compiles digital documents using scanners, mobile capture using a camera on a phone or tablet or importing any file type (.docx, .pdf, image files). Many commonly used applications, like Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat, integrate with document management systems and have native plugins which allow you to file your document into your content management system with just one click.
Promotes the Environment
Manufacturing paper products produce greenhouse gases, causing deforestation and global warming. Recycling can offset some of the environmental impact, but not by much. Most paper eventually ends up in a landfill. Further, ink and toners contain volatile compounds and non-renewable substances which are damaging to the environment. It is much more sustainable to simply reduce paper use altogether by switching to a paperless office.
Physical documents are hard to track – reams of paper can get lost, misfiled or destroyed without anyone noticing. It can also be difficult to monitor the access, printing and copying of sensitive files. Document management software has advanced security capabilities that can tackle these challenges. System administrators can set-up granular access rights, which assign permissions at the document level (e.g. settings based on the type of document), user level (e.g. settings based on person’s job function), or system level (e.g. overarching security for all data in the system).
The security benefits of a paperless workplace go beyond access rights. Implementing document management software also allows organizations to leverage electronic signatures, redact confidential information, create audit trails and more.
Deciding to make the move from paper to paperless is part of a larger process called digital transformation. In our last post we discussed how the State of Wisconsin transitioned into a paperless office and benefited from saving over a million dollars, just by going paperless. Document management software is a crucial tool to this road to digital transformation. Beyond the immediate benefits of going paperless, digitizing is the first step to transforming your workplace and ultimately driving business forward.
What do you or your company do to manage your paper documents? Please feel free to share your experiences, we'd love to hear!