What is a paperless office?
A paperless office is a workplace that has minimal paper-based processes and relies on digitised documents instead. Some organisations prefer the term “paper-light” as many offices and departments cannot completely eliminate paper files because of process or compliance requirements.
Regardless, reducing the use of paper helps accelerate an organisation’s digital transformation journey. This typically involves transitioning to an electronic document managing system that digitises files and stores it in a central repository.
The benefits of going paperless
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 % 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, curriculum vitae, receipts, work orders, invoices, bills, and more.
Evidently, working with paper documents creates problems that prevent an employee from being productive and an organisation 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 organised 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 and focus on other high-value tasks.
- Promoting collaboration among team members. Staff are able to share files digitally without printing and view updated and past versions of documents. This minimises the steps and optimises the workflow when working together on documents.
- Improving 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 unauthorised changes. This also reduces the risk of loss and theft.
- Saving costs spent on printing and storing documents. Eliminating the majority of paperwork helps you save money spent on paper and filing cabinets, as well as other costs like photocopier ink and office stationery.
How to transform into a paperless office
A document management system captures and stores information digitally on a single platform with integrated search options. In order 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 digitising 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 digitising 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 programme to prepare employees on handling new processes and gather feedback from them for further improvement.
As with any change, it will take time for your organisation 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.
To learn more about how a document management system can help your office go paperless, contact us.
Accounts Payable Document Management
Learn how accounts payable document management can help your accounts payable department organise, store, and access its data.