Today is World Paper Free Day and while we don’t expect anyone to go paper free in one day, it could be a great time to start looking at how you can make your business digital.
So why paper free, surely there are areas that will always be easier to do using paper? While that may be true in some circumstances, the majority of businesses already know that paper just isn’t right for a 21st-century business.
Paper still pervasive
A recent yearly survey by AIIM found 92 percent of the businesses polled said that removing paper was a constant objective for the business, 80 percent also realized that paper content and processes were a huge impediment to the business, with 72 percent saying that the paper processing speed just wasn’t acceptable – up from 68 percent in the previous study. However the reality is paper is still a big problem, the same respondents said that 31 percent still had offices “piled high” with paper and 40 percent still filed the “important stuff” on paper.
One of the traditional areas for paper use is collecting signatures, and many businesses are trying to move from handwritten signatures to e-signatures. In the AIIM survey, 79 percent said they should have an e-signature mechanism. However many are still unable to do this – 56 percent still used paper for signatures – and hence are reducing their efficiency by requiring hand-written signatures on digital documents.
In a recent webinar AIIM Market Intelligence vice president Bob Larrivee said: “The common goal we see is to reduce or eliminate paper, where possible, and to make it more streamlined and to keep data in its original digital form. Digital-born content that we create using different office applications should stay in its digital form, and if we do need to put signatures on it, then we should look at ways where business can use an e-signature wherever possible.“
Paper is also a huge problem for businesses who are trying to improve the business by sharing data and analyzing the data they have via techniques like Big Data and business analytics. If data is held on paper it’s in a physical silo that can’t be shared, if it’s held digitally, then it can be shared throughout the business, and the data used to help grow the organization.
Where to start?
So how do you start going paper-free? The first thing you need to ask is: where is the paper in your organization, how much paper is there, and what it the impact of that paper on the organization? More importantly you need to look at why are you still keeping paper? For many the reasons are because of regulatory reasons, although as Bob Larrivee says this advice may be based on old regulations and “may not reflect the current state.”
Once you know why and where your paper is, the next step is to turn it into digital form to improve the searching and sharing of the documents, to reduce storage space, and improve response times. Larrivee recommends the sooner you get the capturing into the process, the better, as there’s also “less likelihood to lose the information”.
Lastly, turning paper into digital formats shouldn’t be the last part of the process. Businesses also need to look at how that data then gets into the workflow, and ideally this should be an automated process. For example a signature on a proof of delivery form automatically creating an invoice.
Sign the paper free pledge
If this has spurred you into looking at going paper-free then why not sign the paper free pledge and then come and talk to one of our consultants.
We can help you to assess your current paper problems, produce a digital strategy that will take paper out of your business and at the same time speed up your business responses, and create a new paper-free efficient and streamlined organization.