Going Paperless! Or Paper-Less!, you hear about this all the time. Large Organizations, Small-to-Medium Size Businesses, Non-Profits and Government Agencies are all flocking to this concept for Green or Environmental reasons. Heck yah, I am on Board for Green Initiatives as much as anyone, or more.
But what is the Real Value in taking your Office Paper-Less? When is the Best Time to do it? and how do we do it?
Let’s start with When. The short answer is right now. Let’s face it someday there will be no Paper. Yes I said it, it will take a long time, but that will be the culmination of paper’s existence in the workplace. So someday, your Organization will NEED to Go Paper-Less, so why not start with Paper-Less now?
Your Staff is comfortable with working with paper you say? Have your staff make the cultural change now - In these times of downsizing and layoffs, motivated Staffers are more willing to be flexible and transformative, which is exactly what Companies & Organizations need from their workforce. Sure, there will be some resistance that is natural; but doing it now will save you from being forced to do it.
What is the Real Value in taking your Office Paper-Less? Environmental Reasons and the Green Office are just the tip of the tree. Here is some of Paper’s Inefficiencies that make really compelling reasons to Go Paperless:
- Disaster Recovery – Many times we are contacted by Businesses and Organizations who have just experienced a fire, flood, theft/vandalism or other disaster that rendered their filing cabinets full of important records useless.
- Paper is Non-Collaborative - More than 1 Person cannot View or Work with a Document at the same time. With Paper, you have to be located in the same building as the document or at best have someone fax or email you an unmanaged “copy” of that record.People are always searching for information and/or documents that have that information. They call, email, run around the office. It is very inefficient.
- Workflows with Paper are Disruptive and Inefficient – Like #2 and its lack of collaboration, Paper needs to be routed from department to department within organizations to accomplish tasks, like Purchase Goods & Services, Pay for them (AO), etc. Many of us are still using a folder system to route these workflows, others even less efficient where there is an extraordinary amount of communication taking place for what should be an automated task.
- Security & Fraud - Unmanaged Documents (like paper and subsequent copies, sticky notes, etc) present a tremendous opportunity for fraud within organizations. Because they are very static and untraceable, documents are often discarded or manipulated to allow for fraud and other internal threats.
The above are just a few of Paper’s shortcomings...
How do we Go Paper-Less? My advice is to use a Database or Document Management Software (DMS). There are a lot of Solutions and it is confusing. The best way to approach it is to define what your needs are and what your fears are; and use the Solution that addresses those issues.
Let’s address the above listed shortcomings of Paper:
- Disaster – In the event of disaster like theft, floods, earthquakes or fires, all of your important documents and records are safe. Most Document Management Solutions offer cloud based or are self hosted with offsite back-up strategies in place.
- Collaboration – Electronic Document Management Solutions can be very collaborative. They allow for many users to simultaneously view, edit, revise or to work with in general. DMS will allow your staff to stay in their offices and have access to all of the information they need to complete their tasks.
- Electronic Document Workflow - Most DMS Solutions provide a means to create “Workflows” for various processes. These automated tasks generally involve multiple staffers and departments. Providing an elegant means to accomplish repetitive but very important and meaningful tasks offers great value and ROI.
- Security, Compliance and Fraud – Imagine having 100 4-Drawer Filing Cabinets in your organization. Now imagine the ability to electronically limit access to all types of documents to just the staff that has the need and permission to access them. Now imagine having a record of every time someone views, routes, edits, changes, revises, prints, etc. a document. Imagine having very granular control over rights and privileges and a complete audit trail. This makes demonstrating compliance manageable.
What challenges does your organization have with documents and paper?