In a recent article in Forbes magazine discussing the state of the “Paperless Office”, it was mentioned that, “we are still stocking our offices with paper and using enough of it to reach halfway to the moon.” It also said that the average employee is using over 10,000 sheets of paper a year. So, there are some problems that need to be addressed before paperless solutions can ever become a reality in an office. Here are a few suggestions:
Start with an Audit
To have paperless solutions, management must start with an audit. Yes, the first thought most people have is, “I’m going to reduce paper by generating another report?”. Audits can now exist solely in digital format, allowing everyone from the CEO to the accounts payable clerk to sign off electronically. An audit tracks not just consumption, but also the cost of printing and storage. The price of ink and the maintenance contract needed for centralized, commercial printers can really add up. Even if the final report and other products are stored off-site, they still result in a monthly expense that exceeds the annual salary for many employees.
Scan the Paper onto a Digital Format
Next, scan the paper onto a digital format and then recycle the old files. Digital storage and management can run as little as twenty percent of the cost of a room full of filing cabinets. Professional service has the correct equipment to quickly scan years of reports, budget requests, etc. onto a digital format and then recycle the now-outdated paperwork for you.
Now that you have emptied the filing rooms, and turned in the cabinets for scrap metal, management needs to prevent employees from replacing the paper with more of it. The best solution is to provide them with the best training the company can afford. It isn’t just on an AP system. According to a Harvard Business Review article, over one-third of U.S. employees do not take the steps necessary to keep up with the digital world growing around them. When a company provides that training, employees now understand what is in front of them and have the confidence to put the old, paper methods behind them.
Remember the electronic signature mentioned earlier? Apply that to everything possible in the company. Why? More and more companies report a significant reduction in document turnaround; some up to eighty percent, with an electronic signature. With an upgrade to a lightweight pdf editor, documents are easier to share, secure, and edit for multiple signatures, eliminating the need for an incredible amount of inter-office paperwork.
AP Automation Results in Savings
Finally, the best way to get further results with paper reduction is to show the financial benefits. AP Automation can result in savings to the company in as little as a month. This is a rapid turn-around that gets everyone’s attention and usually provides the push needed to go farther in their departments. Digital documents and signatures are the future, and the sooner a company moves toward these paperless solutions, the sooner they can turn problems into savings.