Scanning solutions can help reduce the costs of retaining documents within a company. Havard University discovered that its department offices were holding on to 40% more records than they needed to, suggesting that companies may be spending 40% more than they should with on-site records storage. Click here to see how Blue-Pencil helps organizations develop a paperless or paper-less strategy, helping companies avoid being victims of $177k storage costs. The discussion here focuses on why companies are overspending on their records storage either on or off-site. Organizations benefit when each team and service vendor works to promote records storage efficiency with the prospect of 40% savings in records storage.
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Organizations should consider going paperless not only for environmental reasons, though that is a great benefit. There are also many practical operational upsides to using less paper.
- Save Money – in the recent article save money on records storage, we found that companies are holding up to 40% more paper than they should. This means even reducing paper consumption could mean a savings of over $170k per year depending on where your office is located and the relative rental costs.
- Save Time – advancements in scanning services and technology allow paper documents to be digitized and fully searchable. Imagine someone sitting in front of a word processor entering each of your paper documents. Scanning software automates this process almost entirely. Now searching for a document or key phrases within one can take seconds instead of hours.
- Better Utilization of Technology – the challenge with using paper for collaboration purposes is that your team is still grappling with using tools that don’t readily facilitate teamwork. Encouraging and supporting your team through training can help organizations better utilize their existing investments instead of creating more costs.
This is a TED talk that discusses the possibilities available when everyday people go paperless:
- Stronger Audit Trail for Compliance – with data archival and redundancy the risk of losing vital records is drastically reduced. This means your organization, by going digital, can retain regulatory documentation to ensure due diligence is followed.
- Better Defence Against Information Leaks – going paperless helps organizations defend against information leaks and also provides a better way to control and monitor where information goes.
- Greater Freedom for Employees – paperless offices are a fundamental shift allowing companies to manage teams completely online. This means greater flexibility and satisfaction for employees at work.
Steps to Going Paperless
Here are a number of vital steps to going paperless at your office. As with all organizational initiatives, careful planning, and commitment of resources are essential to success. Having employee performance and rewards tied to the success of the initiative is also a great way to ensure success. Typically the timeline for going paperless in one division can range anywhere from 6 months to a year for a small-to-medium enterprise.
1. Identify Vital Documents that Must Inevitably Become Paper
Harvard conducted a study of its internal departments while offering records storage services for cost efficiency. It found that, of the departments that participated in the program, offices held onto 40% of documents that no longer provided organizational value. An important question to consider involves for which regulatory and competitive requirements will the organization be penalized by an external party for not having a paper document. This typically reduces the number of acceptable paper documents over 50%. Here are some examples of such instances where paper has to be used:
- Legal documents
- Government correspondence or request for information
- Request for Proposals
- Office space leasing agreements
- Marketing collateral
2. Know the Timing for When Paper Must be Issued
Start by drafting crucial paper-bound documents in electronic formats using word or excel before printing copies. Knowing the timing in which these crucial documents have to be turned into paper can help reduce the amount of paper required by an organization. Manage the process of editing and revising these documents until the final release or submission. Further based on past experience it is advantageous to conduct the transition during a fiscal year and then execute or switch at the beginning of a new fiscal year, to ensure minimal disruptions to accounting and financial reporting functions.
One of the main reasons why people create paper documents is to work on revisions or edits independently without impacting the master file. Low fidelity collaboration is provided right out of the box in Microsoft word by tracking changes in a word document. High fidelity or real-time collaboration can allow multiple users to edit a document in real-time along with revisions being seen across the team as in Google docs. These tools allow you to keep documents digital until they absolutely must be issued in paper.
Demonstrate the tangible benefits of how quick it is to locate and search documents to employees. This is a key data point to helping users commit the upfront costs of going digital over their established means of working with paper. Offer training sessions on collaboration tools and processes along with highlighting the success that adopters have by utilizing a technology champion to support user adoption. Another huge driver of paper creation is the need to sign documents, when, in fact, 1/5 of personal documents can easily be signed electronically.5. Utilize Scanning Services to Enable Searchability of All Company Documents
Scanning services can easily deliver digital representations of all of your organization’s documents within just weeks, depending on the number of documents. This means that all your paper documents can be categorized and searchable in a short period of time. Employees can access all this information at the ease of one online portal, virtually anywhere.6. Measure and Encourage Innovation
Track the amount of paper that is disposed of in your office before and after the paperless office initiative to determine the program’s efficacy. Keep an eye on employee productivity metrics including multiple samples of how long it takes to work through a deliverable end-to-end compared to using paper. Reward employees for finding new ways to go paperless or for reducing paper consumption. If employees aren’t given time or recognition for reducing paper use, the status quo will prevail.
Here are some pitfalls or misconceptions to avoid when embarking on a journey towards a paperless office.
Removing all uses of paper: Paper remains a medium of communication because of external parties and also convenience or habit. The key to an effective paperless office strategy is to know which documents must be issued in paper and when they must be issued. The answers to those two questions can drastically affect the efficiency and relevance of a paperless office program. For each stakeholder that requires paper, there should be periodic reviews to ensure requirements haven’t changed to allow for electronic submissions. The CRA and its predecessors took about 30 years to get to the point of receiving digital tax submissions, so though paperless initiatives take time, they do happen.
Signed Documents Must be in Paper: Paper is usually generated to be signed and then sent off without any further use for record keeping. Challenge the assumption and habits of employees by offering a better alternative for submitting signed documents or forms. Use paint or Adobe Reader’s digital signature functions to sign documents without printing them. When corresponding, ensure that these documents are delivered from the person’s email address instead of receiving it from a third-party.
The Daunting Cost of Digitizing Records: Record managers can be overwhelmed with the removal or digitization of decades of archives. Yet the scanning technology and services offered by Blue-Pencil can help reduce this exercise from insurmountable to achievable within weeks. Blue-Pencil also offers one-click access to scanned and archived documents. To learn more about Blue-Pencil’s comprehensive and tailored document scanning services, see here.
Blue-Pencil: Strategic Service Helping Reduce Paper Consumption while Increasing Productivity
Scanning services offer a great way to free up records storage costs and find information quickly. Working with a service provider that continues to look out for your organization’s interests is a hallmark of Blue-Pencil’s service. Blue-Pencil offers dynamic records management services that scale efficiently with your business to ensure baseline service as well as a variable component for unexpected business archival, transportation, or retrieval needs. Document storage is also priced at competitive rates on a monthly basis, which helps you ensure the right level of service for your needs each step of the way.
Blue-Pencil helps clients identify upcoming challenges and provides recommendations to help businesses save money on document storage. The team at Blue-Pencil offers these differentiating factors to help clients remain at the top of their competitive and compliance performance:
Digital office specialists, transforming offices into modern and driven workspaces
Industry-proven digital imaging and scanning services helping unlock hidden value and increase accessibility of archived information
Expert advisor in information management, leading to records storage and office space efficiency
Aptitude for helping companies maximize their office space using industry best practices and storage technologies
Full-service organization offering secure records storage and vital records storage
Focus on the interests of clients with continuous improvement task force helping you to maximize the value of Blue-Pencil’s services
Records Management Services Guide
Scanning services are just one dimension of the overall discipline of records management. See below for additional coverage on records management and how it can help your company focus on strategic priorities.
- Records Management Services – What Are They?: Records Management Services Guide Chapter 1
- The 7 Keys To Creating An Effective Records Management System: Records Management Services Guide Chapter 2
- 7 Tips To Handle Challenges Of Information Management: Records Management Services Guide Chapter 3
- How To Create And Implement A Document Destruction Policy: Records Management Services Guide Chapter 4
- Tips To Keeping Your Costs Low: Records Management Services Guide Chapter 5