The truth behind why not all businesses are going paperless

With the recent shift from office-based working to working from home remotely, going paperless seems more and more like a viable option. But then, why are there still businesses that are lagging behind and continue to use paper instead of going completely paperless?

Human beings are resistant to change, collectively even more so

When forced with no other option, other than to lock up the offices and find a way to seamlessly work remotely is one thing, but to implement a new process within the organisation is something else entirely. Taking an organisation into the future and allowing time for all involved to embrace the benefits of a paperless process requires a deep and realistic understanding of the benefits, challenges and best practices in making the paperless dream a reality.

The main motivation for businesses to stop wasting paper is the potential for cost-saving

How much is paper actually costing your business? You might think a rand here and there, but think again, paper is a massive waste of money for businesses, and it has nothing to do with the actual cost of the paper itself. Companies are concerned about the average cost of printing per page, which is valid. But what they should really be worried about is the cost of retrieving lost documents.

Printing and retrieving lost documents are the two most prominent places businesses waste money

To cut costs, it is essential to ditch the  paper. Going paperless removes all the tedious steps and wasted time associated with hard copies. A paperless document management system reduces the average cost of printing per page drastically and streamlines the document retrieval process, defeating the bane of lost documents forever.

So how much money are we talking about?

The average cost of printing per page

Studies have shown that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each annum. With 26% of that being wasted and landing up in dumps. Printing is a major expense. The average cost to print a page on a laser printer is around R1 for black and white, and it increases for colour laser prints and if there are photos and heavy graphics, you’re looking at way more.

To say you are literally throwing away money would be accurate

Document management services to digitise and organise files. The need for printing is drastically reduced, and necessary prints are optimised to increase efficiency and reduce costs dramatically. Digitising paper documents can save businesses millions of dollars in wasted spending each year.

As expensive as it is to print documents, it’s just one piece of the total cost of paper.

The printed paper must be stored somewhere, and that means it must also be able to be retrieved

Not only is printing expensive, but storing documents doesn’t get any cheaper. It’s estimated that 50-70% of commercial office space is dedicated to documenting storage. To make matters worse, nearly half of the documentation is duplicated, and most of it is never reassessed. This is a massive chunk of overhead that can be wiped out entirely, by going paperless.

Now for the really bad part. It’s estimated that companies lose R200,000 in productivity each year due to lost documents. This includes the labour costs involved in document retrieval. If it can’t be found, it must be replicated, resulting in a productivity slowdown in the entire supply chain. Giving up the search for lost documents causes another duplicate that grows the pile in a vicious cycle.

What are the concerns when going paperless and how can they be alleviated?

1: Compliance with regulations

A large variety of businesses in strictly controlled industries (e.g. finance) successfully roll out paperless processes. The answer lies in careful planning and ideally partnering with an expert in delivering paperless solutions that meet the requirements of regulations.

2: Signatures

These days, pen-to-paper signatures are rarely a legal requirement. The Association for Intelligent Information Management explained that the laws have been standardised in most jurisdictions for more than 10 years now. Digital signatures, being legally valid, are arguably more secure, through the fact that they can be made tamper-proof are better than ‘wet ink’ signatures.

Furthermore, AIIM research found that the majority of digital signature adopters reported a return on investment in less than one year.

3: Security

Although security is seen as a benefit of paperless processes, the digitisation of information is not without security breaches entirely. Digital information is more easily copied and shared, access controls and tracking processes need to keep adhered to, always.

Different regulations require different levels of data security, sensitive information needs to be stored in an encrypted manner eliminating the risk of it being used.

Paper documents are bad for business and the environment at large

In closing, paper records would be immediately readable to anyone who gains access to them. Paper printing and storing cost an enormous amount of money, signatures can be done digitally. When working in the new virtual world, going paperless allows for employees to limit time wastage and a whole lot of frustration.

If you’re looking for recommendations on how to digitise your document distribution, particularly sensitive or business-critical documents, speak to us today. We’ll help you achieve your paperless goals more quickly and efficiently with our highly scalable, easy-to-use interface, system.