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Going Paperless Can Save Time and Money
When you hear the phrase “going paperless,” you might assume it means you’ll no longer be using paper for daily tasks or even have access to it in your office. This obviously isn’t true or practical. Going paperless means using paper wisely while turning to more secure, “paperless” alternatives for processes that are typically completed manually.
For many organizations, the switch from paper to digital seems daunting. However, going paperless can save your organization time and money, and free up your employees to focus on objectives more critical to your success.
Consider these statistics:
- Organizations spend millions of dollars each year recreating lost documents.
- More than 10 percent of all documents are “lost” or “misfiled.”
- Professionals spend up to half of their time looking for information, but only 5 to 15 percent of their time reading it.
If reducing the flow of paper can produce even moderate cost savings and efficiency improvements, it may not be as difficult as you think to make the change.
Where to begin
Across all industries and professions, organizations are moving toward paperless practices at a rapid pace. If your organization is behind the curve, there are some simple things you can consider adopting now to reduce your reliance on paper.
Stemming the flow of paper can significantly improve efficiency and enhance your internal accounting controls. Implementing a cloud-based accounting system allows your internal accounting team to attach supporting documents to many transactions. For example, in the accounts payable process, personnel can scan invoices, attach them to check requests, and then route those requests for approval without generating any paper. The accounting system retains all documented approvals, resulting in a better audit trail and improved internal controls. The accounting process essentially becomes an electronic file cabinet where of all your key records can be stored and easily accessed (preferably in the cloud).
Many outstanding products are available to make paperless expense reporting extremely efficient. All approvals are done electronically and all supporting documentation is maintained within the software. These products are very cost-effective and allow employees to take advantage of mobile technology. The leading systems in this industry can be fully integrated with accounting applications.
Contract management can also become more efficient using a paperless approach. We recently worked with a large organization that must have all of its contracts approved by a federal regulatory agency — a very time-consuming and paper-intensive process. We recommended a secure, web-based system that permits online approvals. Notifications are sent by email (or to the user’s dashboard), which allows the agency to electronically approve the contract. Many contract management applications also integrate with popular accounting applications.
Security and cost are common concerns
Data security is critical when you adopt a paperless system. If everything about your organization is going to be online, it needs to be protected from hackers. Typically, web-based systems are hosted at top-tier data warehouses with IT infrastructure comparable to Fortune 100 companies. Many of these companies provide everything from onsite back-ups to disaster recovery plans. This is a much more safe and effective storage system than rooms full of filing cabinets. You should always perform due diligence on any cloud or off-site storage vendor before utilizing its services.
You can reduce paper usage without spending large amounts of money. One of the significant benefits of web-based applications is that they allow you to spread costs out among many clients, and offer pricing and features that small to midsize businesses normally couldn’t afford. Reducing or eliminating paper will also save your employees’ time; since we all know that time is money, the cost savings will logically follow.
Start with small, incremental steps
Small steps are the best way to start the paperless transition. Take one process at a time; the automation of employee expenses is often an easy place to start. You can then shift into accounts payable, and steadily add more paper-heavy processes. Even something as simple as adding a second monitor can help cut down the number of documents you print. If you take small, incremental steps, going paperless can be quite painless and the upsides are tremendous.
How we can help
We can perform a business process analysis to determine if there are functions in your organization that can be automated, and tell you the investment required and the return you can expect on your investment. It begins with your decision to step away from the shadow of paper and into the efficient, cost-effective, and more secure world of digital document management.