What once seemed impossible is now very much a practical option. If your business truly wants to go paperless, there’s a clear path forward. You simply have to make the decision to follow through.
The “Why” of Going Paperless
The decision to go paperless isn’t one that businesses take lightly. And while every organization has its own reasoning for doing so, there’s a long list of rich benefits to be enjoyed when making the move.
Forbes recently took a deep dive into some of the latest studies and reports on the topic and curated some of the most striking data points. Here are a few of the interesting tidbits they uncovered:
- 87 percent of customers are more likely to buy from a company that supports the issues they believe in, while a strikingly high 3-of-4 customers say they refuse to purchase from a company that is on the wrong side of the issues they believe in.
Considering that sustainability and waste reduction are massive movements with tens of millions of supporters, it stands to reason that an investment in greener practices (like going paperless) will pay off in spades.
- Organizations in the U.S. waste a collective $8 billion per year managing paper. This includes an average cost of $20 to file a document.
- Paper use grows by roughly 22 percent for each year a company is in business. This means a company’s paper consumption doubles every four to five years.
- It costs an estimated $1,500 to $2,100 per year to maintain a standard filing cabinet.
- The average office worker spends 30 to 40 percent of their day looking for printed documents.
And those are just a few data points! If you take some time to study this issue, you’ll discover shocking statistics at every turn. It’s a real problem that demands real solutions.
4 Suggestions for a Paperless Transformation
The good news is that paperless transformation is happening at a rapid rate. And if you’re looking for a way to accelerate your move into the digital age, there are plenty of practical steps you can take. Here are a few:
1. Stop the Bleeding
The first step is to stop the bleeding. In other words, you have to eliminate the flow of new paper into your ecosystem. Some particular areas to pay attention to:
- Physical mail and invoices. Unsubscribe from as many direct mail lists as you can and reduce the flow of mail into your business.
- Printing and copying. The easiest way to discourage printing and copying is to remove all printers and copiers from your office.
- Communication. Send an email to all business partners, suppliers, and customers to let them know about your switch. Not only does this build positive rapport, but it encourages them to focus on digital communication with your business.
2. Transition to the Cloud
File storage is probably one of the most challenging aspects of going paperless. Thankfully, there are tools that make it easy. Find a cloud storage solution and begin creating a new filing system within this platform. As you get more comfortable with your digital filing processes, you can gradually start to scan and transfer physical documents.
3. Switch to Electronic Signatures
If you’re still relying on wet signatures to sign off on documents or enter into contracts, you’re doing your business a huge disservice. Not only does it keep you reliant on paper, but it’s a drag on efficiency. Wet signatures can slow down approval processes by days (especially when multiple parties are involved). But there’s a better (paperless) alternative.
Electronic signatures are now commonly accepted and legally binding in almost every situation and jurisdiction. From real estate transactions to employment contracts, digital signatures just make more sense. All you need is e-signature software and you’re good to go.
4. Address Compliance
When it comes to going paperless, you’ll find that your legal and finance departments are probably the most reluctant to make the switch. Why? Because they’re worried about potential compliance issues. But truth be told, going paperless can actually enhance your company’s compliance efforts. It’s all about how you manage the shift.
When going paperless, be sure to sit down with any individuals or departments who have doubts. Explain how electronic document management software works, what security measures are in place, and how it’s actually more secure than the current way of doing things. A live walkthrough of the software and processes may be necessary to get people on board.
Now’s the Time to Go Paperless
You don’t have to wait to go paperless – and you certainly don’t have to do it all at once! Small steps can be taken today, a few more tomorrow, and so on and so forth. The most important thing is that you start acting now. Don’t wait until you have the perfect plan in place. Begin with the low-hanging fruit and let your momentum carry you into an even richer transformation in the weeks and months ahead.