by: Isabella Janovick - Anacomp, Inc.
Although the total elimination of paper may not be practical for every business, even a small reduction may yield cost savings, increase efficiency and improve the security of documents. A paperless environment, whether it be a startup company or a developed, well-established corporation with policies and procedures, will always be beneficial to the company. Below are some benefits of having a paperless environment with the use of document management software, which includes a central document repository, process consistency and integration with additional business solutions.
There should always be a concern about privacy and data protection. Paper documents are not as secure as one might think. It is pretty simple to access files in an office, even if file cabinets are locked and paper shredders are used. In a paperless environment, you can add several levels of digital security to keep unauthorized people from seeing sensitive material at different folder and file levels. For example, managers may have the permissions to read, write, modify and delete certain files while the staff under that manager may have read permissions only. Users without any assigned permissions on the file cannot access it at all.
A good data security system should also incorporate a tracking history to see who and when a document was accessed. Proper security privileges and procedures can help a business establish compliance requirements and avoid possible legal hassles.
The ability to quickly locate and disperse information may enhance your company's efficiency and professional image. Spending time hunting through piles of paper slows down response time whereas with a digital document management system one can find files with just a few keystrokes. On average, office staff spend about one hour per month searching for and replacing files. By scanning electronic copies of receipts, invoices, applications, etc, documents can be sorted, filed, and organized for quick retrieval and without delay.
In a cloud based document management system, a central repository is a database that can be accessed by multiple users from anywhere, at any time and on any device. Not only are files easier to access, but also free up valuable space in an office without the need of cluttered cabinets and paper stacks. These systems also provide highly secure, permissions based access that can prevent unauthorized access and do not require capital investment in hardware and software.
The savings of going paperless extends beyond just the cost of the paper, which can be substantial. Printing costs can include toner, ink, printers and their maintenance. By eliminating printing, a company can save $500 per person per year in these supplies. Photocopier costs can also be very expensive to purchase and maintain. By going paperless, employees can access and edit digital documents then electronically send to others or save it for future use. Stored documents can also be accessed simultaneously, omitting the use of multiple copies. Storage of paper files can take up so much space in an office that sometimes additional storage facilities are used. With a paperless approach, no storage facility fees are necessary and can be a dramatic cost savings for a company.
Approximately 7% of all paper documents get lost or misfiled. A secure and backed up paperless organization minimizes the risk of losing or misplacing important files. Data can be saved in a cloud-based system where automatic backups take place on a pre-scheduled basis, which eliminates the need to set aside time for manual backups. Furthermore, if a disaster such as a fire or water damage occurs, digital documents can be recovered whereas paper documents could be gone permanently.
Even though businesses are seeking to recycle, office copy paper alone still accounts for over 20 percent of the total paper usage in the United States, according to the Environmental Paper Network. Not only does a paperless company include the reduction of paper production, but also less energy consumption such as the manufacturing and use of printers, faxes and copiers. Additional energy reductions could include the process of pulp and paper, fuel use by air, rail and road transportation in distributing reams of paper and fuel use from seining paper documents via ground or air courier services.
Software technologies such as document management, secure backup and online storage can tremendously reduce the production of paper and the energies used to manufacture and distribute it. Being paperless and environmentally friendly is a positive revolution to the digital and mobile computing solution for any business to become more efficient, save money, transport, secure and archive data.