The agenda of management meetings is very frequently filled in with items related to
- saving money
- saving time for staff and customers
- improving productivity and efficiency
- having more environmentally friendly processes
A paperless business helps with all the above. Totally eliminating paper might sound impossible but technology nowadays has provided us with all the tools necessary to have a paperless business. The Covid-19 pandemic has shifted our workforce to work-from-home – and this accelerated the need for digital paperless processes. Yet many businesses are still far from reaping the full benefits of going paperless. In this article we hope to help you understand better why such a digital transition is beneficial.
Here are 10 benefits of going paperless.
- Real-Time Collaboration : Collaboration is key in today’s working environment. With digital documents both staff and clients can edit the same file simultaneously – when while they are on the move. They can create, track changes of others, share, sign and file the documents collaboratively. The pain of having to merge different version of a physical document become a thing of the past.
- Environmentally Friendly : A paperless business has a much lower carbon footprint than a traditional one. The production of paper has a huge impact on our forests. And without trees our planet cannot survive. And then think of the millions of toner cartridges that we dispose of every year and the harmful chemicals the ink contains. Going paperless is a big part of going green – it should be a key part of your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Clients and partners appreciate companies which are sensitive to a sustainable environment.
- Fast Search : Paper documents can easily go missing or misplaced – and even if they are with some colleague of yours it is very difficult to track where they are. With digital documents you do not have to search filing cabinets – just a quick search on your smartphone / computer and you’re done.
- Anytime – Anywhere : Paper documents cannot be made available anywhere 24/7. Digital documents can. This does not need much elaboration now that we’ve learned to work-from-home and from anywhere while we travel.
- Less Storage Space : Digital documents do not need file cabinets and physical space – and they do not need staff to file them and to keep them ordered.
- Better Client Communications : Sending a digital document to a client is much faster and cheaper than posting a physical document. Digital signatures are also a good way to create a new link to your customers. A better customer experience with fast turnaround times is priceless. That smile on your client’s face is priceless.
- Easier Audit & Compliance : ensuring that all your documents are in line with regulations is much easier with digital documents. Think GDPR in Europe and HIPPA / SOX in the US. Complying with these regulations is much more difficult with physical documents. With digital documents you have an audit trail of usage and of all the changes.
- Cheaper : paper, printers, copiers, ink and toners are expensive, as are file cabinets, the space to keep them and the staff to manage them. With digital documents you do not need any of this. You will have higher IT costs for the cloud, for backups, for security – but you will see noticeable cost savings.
- Resilience In Case Of Disasters : A natural disaster can create havoc at your office at its file cabinets. With a digital setup your files will be in the cloud and/or in multiple physical locations for full resilience. Even key infrastructure is hit – you could be quickly up and running by restoring your backups.
- Faster Payments : sending and receiving digital invoices and digital payments will result in a better cashflow for you and a better experience for your clients and suppliers.
A Small (Big) Tip
Going paperless is not all roses. Your data and your customers’ data is more secure with digital documents only if all security and disaster recovery measures are in place. Automatic backups, role-based security, your cloud account and redundant IT setups should be ready for any eventuality. You need to have a clear and well rehearsed disaster recovery plan and proper cybersecurity. As we depend more on technology we need to make sure we have all the ducks in a row for any eventuality – including theft, natural disasters and war.
What Do You Need For A Paperless Business
- Document management system
- Contract management system – for digital legal documents
- Digital signature like Docusign, Hello Sign, Adobe Sign
- Accounting system with paperless quotes and invoicing like Xero, Quickbooks and Freshbooks.
- HR system with paperless processes to recruit and onboard new employees
- Digital payments – ability to pay without cash or cheques through online banking services, Revolut and Wise.
- Collaboration software like Microsoft Teams or Slack.
Going paperless does not have to be an overwhelming process. You do not need to onboard all the above systems at once with a full digital transformation. Start by promoting a paperless culture. Every leader and every manager knows that change is slow and complex. But like all other projects this should be approached as a digitisation journey. Start by digitising your documents and converting processes that use physical files to use digital forms and workflow. Every journey starts with a few small steps of a few key people.