A paperless office is a workplace that has minimal paper-based processes and relies on digitized documents instead. Some organizations prefer the term “paper-light” as many offices and departments cannot eliminate paper files because of process or compliance requirements.
Regardless, reducing the use of paper helps accelerate an organization’s digital transformation journey. This typically involves transitioning to an electronic document managing system that digitizes files and stores them in a central repository.
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The paperless benefits
Corporations in the US spend more than $120 billion per year on printed forms alone, most of which become obsolete within three months and end up in the trash. On top of that, office workers spend 30-40 percent of their time looking for documents in physical file cabinets.
Some of the most paper-intense departments are human resources, accounts payable and receivable, facilities management, and customer service, which deal with a high volume of applications, resumes, receipts, work orders, invoices, bills, and more.
Working with paper documents creates problems that prevent an employee from being productive and an organization from saving costs. Adopting a paperless system can solve these challenges and achieve benefits like:
- Saving time spent on locating and retrieving physical files – Digital documents can be easily organized and indexed, which makes finding the files you need much faster with search capabilities. As documents become more accessible, the time taken to retrieve files is significantly cut down so your team can be more productive.
- Promoting collaboration among team members – Staff can share files digitally without printing and view updated and past versions of documents. This minimizes the steps and automates and optimizes the workflow when collaborating on documents.
- Improving the security of information – Access rights can be assigned and revoked according to user level and document type. With granular security settings, confidential and sensitive information can be tracked and protected against misuse and unauthorized changes.
- Saving costs spent on printing and storing documents – Eliminating most of the paperwork helps you save money spent on paper and filing cabinets, as well as other costs.
Transformation to paperless
A document management system captures and stores information digitally on a single platform with integrated search options. To ease the change from paper to digital, you can start by:
- Determining the right solution – The platform that you deploy should address and solve your unique business needs and challenges, with the flexibility to adapt to changes and scale with growth.
- Starting the digitizing process – This is likely the most challenging part because of the time and labor involved. The magnitude of the work depends on how many paper files there are, to begin with. However, with the help of your solutions provider, you can work on a strategy to tackle the digitizing process that can then be implemented as best practices for employees.
- Instilling change management – A crucial part of any successful transformation initiative is gaining buy-in from stakeholders. Help your team understand the need for change and how a new system helps them become more productive, impactful, and valuable in their work. Develop a training program to prepare employees on handling new processes and gather feedback from them for further improvement.
The way forward
It will take time for your organization to adjust. It is recommended to start on a smaller scale with critical processes that have the most impact from going paperless, before scaling the solution to other processes and departments.