The slogan “Going Paperless” was first used in the mid-60s with the introduction of Video Terminals and the gradual replacement of slow mechanical Teletype machines which “clacked” 60 words a minute on continuous paper. It was an article in Business Week in the ’70s that suggested that automation would make paper redundant and we would have the “Paperless Office”. The Homecomputer revolution and the Laser Printer with desktop publishing put an end to that.
In the real world businesses need documents, but many of these such as bills, receipts, invoices, etc. can be better managed as PDFs and via email. Lease agreements, Certificates and Contracts still need a hardcopy, but do you really need to archive everything in boxes and filing cabinets?
The amount of paper is becoming so overwhelming with innumerable types of documents (mostly from red-tape bureaucracy) necessary for running a business. Adding to this the amount of email received makes business owners and employees way less productive, increases costs and wastes time.
We will never become fully “Paperless”, so paperless in the context of this article means “As paperless as makes sense”. Reducing the number of documents that your business
- stores ….
- searches for…
- prints and reprints…
- sends in the post….
What are the Benefits of Going Paperless?
In simple terms, going paperless will make you and your staff more productive as long as it is done properly. There is no point in Scanning or Digitizing paper and not being able to find it easily later on. Organising your documents takes a little more time at the start but is way more efficient in the future.
Save Time and Money
Research shows that companies spend an inordinate amount of money just doing paperwork. Moving printed documents to a cloud-based digital documents archive such as Dropbox which automatically gives you local backups, can eliminate many of these “paper pushing” costs. According to numerous surveys, using digital documents can save up to 30% of back-office costs. Coincidentally companies that embrace a Paperless and more “Digital Focus” tend to be more profitable, have a higher income and have a higher value. The cynic in me though would add that the CEOs are better looking since higher income and higher value could also be the reason they have the money and resources to go “Paperless” in the first place – As Paraphrasing Disraeli and Mark Twain… “There are lies, damned lies and statistics”.
Efficient Document Management
Searching through paper filing systems is a major time-wasting activity. We have all at some time in the past been frustrated by misplacing important papers. Remembering where and in what order a document was filed and in what location only becomes more difficult as time goes on and documents mount up.
However, a digital archive can make your team so much more productive, as all (including scans of documents that you must keep as hardcopy due to government legislation) are stored in one place that can be searched by name, date, words, category and type. You, therefore, have access to all your documents wherever you are and on whatever computer (or phone) you happen to be at.
Sending and receiving digital documents is far more efficient than using paper, thus speeding up workflow, whether sending invoices or getting a digital signature from a client. Editing, reusing or annotating a digitally stored document can be done with a word processor, a PDF editor or software such as ADOBE Fill & Sign on a smartphone.
Paperless is Eco-friendly
Over 200,000 acres of rainforest are being destroyed every day, a significant amount of which is for producing paper. Wasting paper by printing the same thing, again and again, to get it to look good isn’t great for your environment. Office workers in the UK use reams of paper every year and over 370 million ink and toner cartridges are thrown away annually. Becoming paperless can do more for the environment than banning plastic straws:
- Less paper waste
- Less deforestation
- Fewer indigenous people losing their land
- Less water used
- Fewer cartridges in landfills.
- Less fuel used in transport
- Fewer Lorries on the road
- Reduced road maintenance costs
Going paperless can be easier than you might think if you follow a simple three-step process.
Digital Contracts and Briefs
This one is a biggie for time-saving as all the documents can be organised in 1 folder with a subfolder for years (if needed).
When signing contracts, eliminate the paper and save time by not making appointments just to sign paper contracts, but send a digital version via email. Not only will this save you time, but you will receive the signed documents back faster and they can be stored in a way that is easily accessible from anywhere.
Offering customers digital receipts via an Emailed PDF allows easier tracking, lower storage costs, lower postage costs, less time at the post office and the franking machine, and the savings go on. Most people prefer digital documents these days anyway, over paper receipts because digital is convenient to file and easier to access.
Electronic Invoices and Bills
Probably the most common documents we receive today are invoices from the utilities – Gas, Electric, Phone. Secondary but probably using more paper are statements from banks and suppliers. An increasing percentage of businesses are sending their invoices in digital format for many of the reasons given. Using accounting software to invoice your own clients and setting up online billing for your own business from your suppliers will cut costs, save time, and you will get paid faster, no more “It hasn’t arrived yet” or “The cheque’s in the post” excuses.