A paperless office or a paper-free office is a work environment that uses minimal physical paper and instead heavily relies on digital documents. Since personal computers became a common thing, many companies converted their documents into digital formats. But despite that, many organizations still rely on paper documents and have a long way before they can call themselves a paperless office.
The benefits to going paperless are plenty; below, we name a few that are the most prominent,
- Saves Money
- Eases Transfer of Information
- Promotes the Environment
- Boosts Security
- Saves Time
- Saves Space
According to research, the average American uses an astounding 700 pounds of paper products per person each year. And much of it is wasted. An estimation shows that 45% of paper printed in offices ends up in the trash by the end of the day, and companies spend more than $120 billion a year on printed forms. If companies start reducing the use of paper that’s as large as this, one can’t begin to imagine how beneficial it will be for the environment. Plus, it will also project the organization as an environmentally friendly company, clearly a competitive advantage in some industries—indeed, one of the reasons organizations are looking to eliminate paper and go paperless.
The good news in all of this is, according to a study by Xerox, 80% of companies want to create paperless processes and workflows; the main reason for this change is the emergence of cloud-based technologies & digital innovation. The cloud has made digital documents available on all devices, reducing the need to print significantly.
But, as we already know, all companies continually look for ways to streamline operations, cut costs, and save time. One of the very neglected areas they can save costs by is through reducing the use of paper, and they should start the process of going paperless yesterday. But there are a few things companies need to consider before adopting this process. They might face few challenges initially, but later they and the environment will surely enjoy the benefits of going paperless.
1. Budget: Identifying the budget is crucial. At times, companies understand the importance of digitization but do not have the budget to scan 2,000 boxes. The designated team for this project needs to answer some of the below questions and put up a budget before moving ahead,
- Do you need to update your server or increase your storage?
- What is your document backup strategy? This adds to your monthly cost.
- And is your scanning hardware up to specifications? Do you need to invest in something better or faster?
- One of the indirect costs is people. Are you retaining your teams as is? Will there be an addition of a person with a specific skillset or a layoff that is going paperless is causing?
- Will all of this hamper productivity for a specific time?
2. Scope: After knowing the budget, organizations start to look into the scope of what they want to get scanned. For example, if the organization reached more than 10 to 15-year-old documents, they need to identify whether it is necessary to record all these years of documents? Or they can keep the record of the last five years only. By placing this, the organization could reduce the scope by more than 50% and don’t need to record lesser essential documents. The management and the designated teams need to set-up a retention strategy before moving ahead.
3. Picking the platform: The organizations need to identify which software they will use for scanning? Do they want those scans to be searchable? If so, the organizations need to convert them to PDF and use OCR software to read the documents. The next step is to consider how companies are going to organize and access the documents. There are two ways one can do this, 1) By using regular Windows folders or using the database. By default, consider organizing your files into Windows folders to meet the organizational access needs, which is much easier to implement, or 2) Using a database-driven management system with restricted access and better control on the documents.
4. The need for outside help: If your organization has vast paper archives that need to be scanned, you have to think about outsourcing help. It will be significantly time-consuming for your staff to do complete this activity. Companies can always consider hiring temporary staff for the scanning and organizing work.
5. Compatibility: Is your computer window software and the document management software compatible? This issue mainly comes when offices choose to use a database-based document management system. But they fail to realize that most of their Windows’s software will no longer access the files by putting their files in a database. The organization must choose the right software so that they won’t face these kinds of problems.
Although transferring to this digitalization culture might not happen overnight, but the results of this will going to be rewarding. Moreover, the best thing about going paperless is that once you finish the steps for going paperless, significantly less time and effort are needed to stay paperless. Later on, it is just about not indulging in printing non-essential documents and maintaining consistency in naming and filing. More and more organizations are becoming more efficient, modern, and environmentally friendly companies by adopting paper-free offices.
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