Traditionally businesses have relied on paper-based systems, but it has always been challenging to manage such systems, especially in tracking and retrieving documents quickly. Moreover, storing paper documents for years require lots of storage space, and when archived for a long time, these are prone to damage. Added to this are concerns about the safety and security of paper documents that anyone can access easily. Paper-based systems slow down the business processes and impact business efficiency, which is why businesses transition to paperless systems by using digital technology and other technological advancements.
The early signs of going paperless
Since computers became an essential tool for running businesses, the idea of moving towards a paperless office started developing. As people realized how easy it was to retain, share and retrieve digital documents, the idea of reducing paperwork at offices and industries began gaining traction. The first cues about using technology to facilitate paper transactions came from cashless payments that started gaining popularity, explains Eric Dalius, a seasoned and successful marketing veteran who witnessed the transition.
As cashless transactions have become the mainstay of business payments and even individuals felt comfortable reducing cash payments, it was quite logical for businesses to move towards a paper-free work environment. Global tech firms like Google, Amazon, etc., have played a stellar role in popularizing cashless payments that paved the way for paper-free offices.
Minimizing paper-work should be the goal
Although the aim is to create a paperless work environment, it is impossible to substitute paper documents completely with digital documents. Some paperwork will remain even if the majority of the documents undergo digitization. Hence, it is better to direct your efforts in minimizing paper documents instead of trying to do away with paper entirely in one go. Minimizing paper work should be the goal initially, which can pave the way for an utterly paper-free work environment in due course. Before embarking on a project of substituting paper documents with digital documents, companies must first inculcate a digital culture so that employees are convinced about its advantages and are comfortable working with it.
Beginning of the change
Since the 1980s, the buzz about paper-free offices and businesses started growing louder. Initially, the focus was on reducing paper use to save office space and streamline some business processes that eliminated paper documents. Although companies are eager to reduce paper use to streamline business processes instead of just saving storage space for archiving paper records, there is still some way to complete the elimination of paper documents. Many businesses that have transformed their back offices by going paperless find it quite challenging to walk towards total paper elimination. According to Eric Dalius, businesses are still grappling with cultural elements to accept the reality of offices completely free from paper documents. There are gaps in understanding paper-free options, and many people are still not ready to trust digital signatures.
Changing the organization’s culture will alter everyone’s mindset at all levels of the organization and make them ready to embrace a paperless environment that can be more trustworthy than the traditional paper-based systems.
Here are some reasons for switching over to paperless business processes.
Reduces workforce and saves time
The physical movement of paper documents requires more people to move documents from one point to another within the office. The workforce is also necessary to organize documents and ensure their proper storage and the entire process of managing and tracking documents takes time. Since the document management system is entirely manual, it requires more time to complete tasks that affect a business’s operational efficiency and impact business performance. It also affects the customer experience who experiences delays in services.
All such problems are well-addressed by adopting a paper-free work environment by depending on digital documents and records. Archiving digital documents is easy and performed with the help of technology that reduces human resources. Tracking and retrieving documents is faster, which not only saves time by improves operational efficiencies.
You can achieve improved operational efficiencies of paper-less businesses by reducing human resources save money in the long run. However, you will have to make some initial investments in technology will be made. The savings are higher than the investment when calculated over a few years because the capital investment for digitization ensures better ROI. Additionally, reducing the use of paper and allied stationery saves cost, which offsets much of the investment. The money spent on managing digital records is only a fraction of what you would have spent managing paper documents.
Easy information sharing
Digitization of the business processes speeds up the delivery systems due to easy and instant sharing of documents and information. Storage and sharing of documents at the click of a mouse are much more convenient and fast. Moreover, digital document archiving is much more systematic and error-free, helping in speedy document tracking and retrieval, which improves the overall organizational performance. Information is now available at the fingertips and easy to share. The availability of many kinds of software and allied devices like cameras, scanners, etc., makes information management easier. Efficient information sharing improves communication across the organization that helps develop better teamwork and enhance business performance.
It is hard to track and manage papers as some can get lost, misplaced, or destroyed even without anyone knowing it. It is also difficult to monitor access to paper documents as there is no way to deny access unless you keep it out of bounds, which can be detrimental to the business process. Chances of printing and copying sensitive documents always remain a threat.
All such problems vanish as soon as businesses embrace paper-less offices that use advanced document management systems with high-security capabilities. Digital document systems can control access rights that restrict document access based on the type of document and its sensitivity, thereby ensuring better security. There is a robust security network to protect digital documents from adopting electronic signatures to creating audit trails.