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Partner TechTip: The Pursuit of a Paperless Process

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Although "going paperless" is an urban myth, paperless processes within your company are a reality. This article explains why reducing paper matters and offers three steps you can take to a less paper-intensive process.

Chasing after a paper-free business is a lot like trying to find the end of a rainbow. Why? Because it doesn't exist. There will always be a point of entry by which paper comes into an organization.

"Going paperless"—eliminating paper usage and managing documents in the cloud or web-based filing systems—sounds hip, smart, and eco-friendly. However, the reality is that paper still permeates the modern office. In a recent study, nearly half of organizations surveyed had made only 5 percent of progress toward paper-free processes, and 18 percent hadn't even started yet.

The good news is that, although "going paperless" is an urban myth, paperless processes within your company are a reality. For instance, many human resources (HR) departments have digitized their travel and expense reporting, and AP departments have made payroll paperless—and all of them are reaping the benefits.

What's the Big Deal About Reducing Paper?

Paper functioned as the modus operandi in business for a long time, but there are quite a few compelling reasons and statistics that support rethinking paper as the foundation of our business processes.

Paper is a productivity killer.

When talented employees have to spend half their day shifting papers from person to person and pile to pile, it pulls them away from what they were hired to do.

Paper is sluggish.

Paper-based processes can be incredibly inefficient. A paper document can sit on someone's desk for a week without being routed to the next person, slowing the whole process down. Even if you have a standard routing process for approvals, it becomes hard to manage and enforce without some kind of digital automation.

Paper is costly.

Dealing with paper—from finding and filing to delivering documents—is costly. Not only does hunting down important documents consume precious time, but it's expensive in the long run to maintain storage for—as well as to print and mail—paper documents. In addition, the physical nature of paper could present potentially disastrous security-related costs.

Consider a few statistics:

  • It takes about 18 minutes on average to search for a document.
  • A typical employee spends 30-40 percent of their time hunting for information within email, documents, filing cabinets, etc.
  • A four-drawer file cabinet holds an average of 10,000 documents and costs $1,500 per year.
  • More than 70 percent of today's businesses would fail within three weeks if they suffered a catastrophic loss of paper-based records due to fire or flood.

Why Paperless Is Preferable

There's an obvious ROI to paperless processes. Storing and managing forms and documents in the cloud or an on-premise document management system means less money spent on paper and storage costs, as well as greater employee ROI from time saved. With digital document management, you can be more productive. And paperless processes often integrate with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) and line of business (LOB) to support overall usability.

How to Achieve a Less Paper-Intensive Process

Take a current business process and run it through the following three steps to see if it could benefit from going totally or partially paperless with the help of a digital document management solution:

1. Evaluate your current process.

Are your current processes working well without hitting any barriers? Are they taking too long? If there are bottlenecks, identify the problem area and hone in on what exactly needs to be optimized.

2. Identify spots where you can simplify or streamline.

Maybe there's a clear redundancy in the process that can be simplified; for instance, someone is habitually taking pre-printed forms and re-keying all the information. Perhaps a paper document is being passed between departments and should really be scanned and captured to a digital document management system for greater efficiency. If you start to look, most companies can find ways in which they can streamline data capture processes.

3. Consider starting with electronic.

Could you turn that paper-based form into an online form to begin with? You may get to the end of a process and realize that, having digitized most of it, it'd be best to start electronic in the first place. An entirely digital process allows you greater control over enforcing document workflows and approvals, and it gives you maximum efficiency so that business operations can be more quick and easy.

If you want to manage, find, and share electronic documents faster, it can be done and doesn't have to be painful. RJS helps you simplify your current paper-based processes for more efficient digital document management. Request a demo to see how it works.

Greg Schmidt

Greg Schmidt is a 15-year veteran in document, forms, and process management. Specializing in process management, he is equipped to help companies automate their document capture and streamline their troublesome and often cumbersome business processes with technology. Best-practice guidance for implementation and solution expansion within a company is one of his top priorities.


Greg also has over a decade's worth of experience in report and data distribution for IBM i and the Microsoft Windows platforms.



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