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The paperless office - moving into the 21st century

Kelli Blystone

August 20, 2020

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The concept of a paperless office has been popular for decades. With personal computers on every desk and now mobile devices dominating the business landscape, the dream of the paperless office looks so simple and within reach. 

For any organization that wants to appear cutting-edge, innovative, and conscientious, the paperless office is more than just a buzzword. Many organizations tout the environmental benefits of going paperless and package their push toward removing paper as a sustainability initiative. This can buy the organization lots of brownie points with consumers, if they’re paying attention. 

Internally, keeping paper out of the equation makes offices more efficient, saving everyone time in finding documents and headaches in keeping them up-to-date. Allowing customers to interact with online digital documents can also increase customer satisfaction, which can motivate organizations to digitize their processes, too. 

You’ve probably seen anecdotal evidence in your own life of the push towards the paperless office, from email signatures imploring you not to print a hard copy to receiving a discount on your phone or credit card bill for going paperless. But even after decades of businesses and individuals alike touting their desire to remove printed documents from the office repertoire, it’s still just a dream for many organizations, big and small. 

Reducing paper usage in your office doesn’t have to be impossible or even difficult. There are a few steps to going paperless in your organization, starting with defining what it means to you.

What is a paperless office? What can it mean for your business?

In short, a paperless office is that which actively takes actions to reduce the amount of paper it consumes on a daily basis. These paperless offices can come in many forms. Defining what that means to your organization means taking into account your employee expectations, client or customer needs, and your budget for digital transformation. You’ll also have to address your processes and how they can function without paper, or with less paper. 

While removing paper entirely from your document processes may be your ultimate goal, there’s absolutely no shame in reducing paper usage in steps. This will help with both employee and customer buy-in, as you can reduce paper usage without sending anyone into shock. You can start by finding the easiest processes to digitize, which may be accounting software, expense tracking, and time and attendance systems. Teaching even strong holdouts simple printing tricks like only printing one page or printing on both sides of the paper can reduce paper usage, too. 

You can also penalize printing in various ways, like by using printers that track usage and calling out heavy paper users in your office. Of course, sometimes the carrot works better than the stick. Instead of punishing the paper addicts, it can be more beneficial to introduce paperless systems that are easy-to-use and offer obvious time-saving to employees. Also, ample training and incentives for using programs properly can go a long way in increasing employee adoption (and overall happiness). 

The benefits of a paperless office

Let’s be honest: a majority of the paper we print comes from internal documents like contracts, proposals, and reports. Introducing digital document management to your business processes can reduce the need to print or store paper enormously. As part of a comprehensive digital strategy, Digital Document Transformation (DDX) can be one of the most transformative aspects of taking your company digital. From complicated contract management systems to document management in general, going digital offers benefits to offices of all sizes. 

1. Reduced costs

There’s the obvious reduction in costs that comes from lowering the need for paper and ink, not to mention printer maintenance, delivery fees, and recycling costs. There’s also the increased space that comes from storing documents digitally instead of physically in filing cabinets or boxes. 

2. Paperless document management

The biggest benefits of digital document management come in the form of efficiency and convenience. By finding ways to digitally store documents, you can allow anyone to access them at any time. You also improve tracking and revision history, which keeps confusion to a minimum and can dramatically increase compliance. Something as simple-seeming as implementing eSignature can reduce the time and headaches it takes to finalize contracts and make doing business so much easier.

3. Document accuracy

Depending on the level of digital transformation you achieve with your document management processes, you can even get the benefit of much more accurate documents built from data pulled directly from your customer relationship management system, such as Salesforce. You also gain access to data on how your documents are performing, allowing you to improve business processes. 

4. Improved security measures

When you rely on physical documents, it’s much more difficult to keep the information that lives in those documents safe and secure. Paper documents can be hard to track, are easier to lose, and access to sensitive information is more difficult to monitor when not managed in a digital location. Digital document management software often comes with built-in security features that allow system administrators to set up access rights and permissions to make sure documents stay within the right hands.

Access rights and permissions are just one of the security perks of a digital document management system. Most can integrate with an electronic signature solution, allowing for secure, recorded signatures from anywhere, and the ability to create an audit trail for records.

Conga has a number of solutions for organizations of all sizes to realize their dreams of a paperless office. From small-to-medium businesses up to enterprise organizations, our solutions can take the paper out of your business processes to free your time, capital expenditures, and other resources from the shackles of the printer. Get in touch today for a free demo

Kelli Blystone

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