23 Sep Is going paperless a good idea?
Having a modern digital document management system makes a lot of sense for many reasons. The technology has caught up and made it highly possible for basically any business in any industry to go paperless – and yet only three per cent of Australian businesses have gone totally paperless and 20 per cent of businesses admit their paper use and wastage is actually increasing.
Paperless business solutions offer many financial benefits, efficiency and productivity gains and there are also many environmental reasons to go paperless as well. But many businesses ask how do I convert paper to digital?
We took a deep dive into the process of going paperless, document management and digitisation and have put together simple tips for going paperless that will help improve your business operations and enable you to deliver a better customer experience at the same time.
What does it mean to go paperless?
While the answer to this question may be obvious, have a think about the volume of paper that you use in your office. We are not just talking about your photocopying and printing, taking notes, etc. There is a wide range of paper processes that you might not immediately think about.
physical record-keeping and data entry is still a paper process in many work environments across a wide range of industries, clogging up filing cabinets and requiring hours for you to locate the correct records. These cabinets take up enormous volumes of space, are costly and are totally inefficient.
Employee onboarding is another paper process employees may overlook, as it has always been the norm to have forms filled out for salary payment, tax details etc. All of this can be done without the use of paper.
And sharing documents has always involved printing off paper and handing it around a room when it really doesn’t need to be that way anymore, as there are numerous file-sharing platforms that live in the cloud, like Google Docs and SharePoint.
The benefits of going paperless at work
- Cost: On average, an office will use up to 10,000 sheets of paper a year and only half of that will be recycled or reused. Now those costs might not seem large in isolation, but when you take into account the cost of purchasing office-grade printers and copiers, the ongoing service and maintenance of this machinery, IT support, cabling, printers, toners and other consumables as well as the space requirements for document storage and the outlay for filing cabinets and the costs of still using paper really blow out.
- Speed efficiencies and automation: Every step of a paper process is slowing your business operations down. The process of writing everything down is slower than typing and many paperless processes include auto-complete options as well for the faster input of data. This paper then has to be stored correctly through manual processes and also recovered in the same way, whereas paperless processes can be stored and retrieved almost instantaneously.
- Access to data remotely and at home: Information stored in the cloud is available to all authorised parties instantly and from any location or any device. You can totally secure this information with multi-factor authentication and strong encryption to ensure sensitive data does not fall into the wrong hands.
- Greater accuracy: Digital processes are far less likely to contain errors as there are automated checks and alerts, while there are also fewer steps involved in the process which means less likelihood of human error.
- Collect data automatically: Web-based forms technologies are smart and will auto-complete forms for you as they learn about you and your processes. Simply start typing and they recognise patterns and allow you to rapidly complete forms through automation.
- Faster approval processes: There are many digital signature platforms out there that allow for managers to approve processes quickly without transporting documents and waiting for manual signatures.
- Store and collate data without the bulky filing cabinets: Many businesses are required to retain documentation for legal reasons for a number of years, often up to a decade. Depending on the volume of documents you are producing and storing, that equates to a lot of expensive filing cabinets and the floor space required to house them. Digital forms allow you to store all of the information securely in the cloud without any of that expense of loss of space.
- Easier customisation: Digital documents can be easily changed and personalised for each individual customer and client to deliver bespoke processes without lengthy delays that can be associated with manual documents, altering them and gaining approvals.
- Better sharing and collaboration: By using cloud-based services like Google Docs and SharePoint you are able to instantly share documents with colleagues and clients anywhere in the world, where they can make changes rapidly and approvals can happen much more quickly. A team can work on a single project from different corners of the planet at any time of day and night, something that is just not possible with paper documents.
- Better scope to scale your business: When you are looking to grow your operations, that often means finding new premises to operate in. The larger the workforce, the more documents and filing cabinets and the higher the need for a bigger building to house everyone. Removing the paper element allows you to be nimble and scale up your operations without the need to instantly upgrade your building, with remote collaboration becoming available and a reduced requirement for filing cabinets.
- Reduced clutter: Another reason to go paperless is not only gaining office space by eliminating the need for filing cabinets and other storage, but you will find workspaces become less cluttered and more productive as well. Clearer desks lead to clearer minds and greater efficiency.
- Quickly prove compliance: Compliance is essential for all businesses and you need to able to provide the documentation quickly. Stop digging through filing cabinets when you can instantly access all of your compliance documentation from a cloud-based storage system.
- A better customer service experience: We live in a world where people expect immediate satisfaction. Globalisation, the internet, smart devices and instant access to information means people are not going to be willing to wait. The link between a positive customer experience and digital engagement are very closely aligned, so going paperless is essential for meeting modern needs and expectations. You can engage with customers from any location at any time of day, they can complete documentation on their own device at their own leisure and the can have a central platform where they can be informed, make payments and gain value from your operations.
- Environmental benefits: Going paperless has the obvious benefit of reducing the use of paper which means fewer trees cut down and greater outcomes for the environment. But it goes beyond that, as the process of cutting down a tree and turning it into 17 reams of paper results in almost 50kg of carbon emissions as well. By cutting down on your paper use, or eliminating it entirely, you are reducing your carbon footprint in a big way. This is not only beneficial in terms of your social responsibilities, it also makes you more attractive to customers. A recent survey showed that 88 per cent of consumers would like their brands to be more environmentally friendly and ethical which means you are going to let down a lot of people by not making a difference.
- Stop waiting for the mailman: Ending paper processes means shutting down the mailroom as well. Stop waiting days or weeks for documents to arrive when there are multiple platforms that can send them through immediately.
So why are we still using paper?
Psychologists call it haptic perception, which basically means humans have an innate need to physically grasp items, to have something tangible. When we hold something in our hand we can extract a range of information from it like weight, shape, the material it is made of and other data that allows us to instantly know what the object is.
For many people, information housed in the cloud or in computer hard drives does not seem “real” because it cannot be physically touched and held, especially for workers who did not grow up with computers. That perception is changing though as more and more workers enter the workforce having used computers, smartphones and tablets since childhood.
Meeting government and legal compliance standards have also been a common reason why businesses retain paper processes, but this is rarely the case any more and more government bodies and legal processes have been moved online and digital forms are perfectly acceptable to meet these requirements.
Many businesses have been concerned about the costs associated with making the transition but online forms, online form builders and online form creators come with low costs (often they are free) and you would be truly surprised at the volume of money you are spending to stay in a paper document environment when you factor in the machinery, the servicing, the electricity, the storage and the consumables you are spending money on every year.
How Fly2Work can handle all of your work travel and accommodation in a paperless environment
Over the years, Fly2Work has assisted many companies in the mining, renewables and oil and gas industries manage their travelling workforces. So many operations were still relying on antiquated and archaic paper-based systems to schedule their fly-in, fly-out workers on flights, into camps and hotels and to transport them from airports to job sites.
Fly2Work provides a central, unified and paper-free platform where workers can schedule their flights and accommodation in just three minutes, while management and HR have instant access to all data via a central dashboard.
The benefits and advantages for your business include:
- Fast booking process: Add rosters and multiple bookings at once from any internet-connected device. Managers and coordinators can book all travel requirements including air charters, coach charters, self-driving options (hire cars) and accommodation on-site or at local hotels quickly and easily.
- Fast implementation and rollout: SaaS platform that can be fully customised to suit your requirements. Generate simple profiles, company and data set-up, booking process, approval process and management of suppliers’ services. Staff can be trained in as little as 10 minutes with the intuitive and simple to use interface.
- Data-rich reporting: Dashboard live reporting and access to historic and future traveller and supplier data, including No Show and Go Show details. Companies use detailed reporting for allocating charges to cost centres and contractors as required.
- Scalable and adaptable: Suitable for any range of transport and accommodation, with profile-based options. We understand not every business is the same and there is always scope for growth. Fly2Work will scale and adapt with you.
- Reduced processes: Simple bookings and approval, live manifests and real-time data through a single platform that consolidates all processes and inventory. Management has complete oversight and control of all processes and communications.
Want to learn more? Contact the team at Fly2Work and will arrange a free for you so you can begin your journey towards going paperless and automating all of your travel and accommodation requirements.