The Truth on Going Paperless
Companies looking for more robust and responsive record-keeping systems should strike a balance between paper and digital, and find a true “sweet spot” with going paperless.
The digital transformation revolution has been widely touted as the “end of paper” by myriad business experts. These same experts tout pure “paperless only” as the only path to good document business practices.
However increasingly, the data reveals that while going paperless may be a good idea on paper, in reality, undergoing a paperless only digital transformation process has risks and costs the experts didn’t factor into the equation.
Two Paperless Office Cases In Point
- A study by Wakefield Research noted that company decision-makers make use of their printers significantly more often than previously thought. Overall, 73% of managers use printers and multifunction devices more than four times per day.
- Another study by InfoTrends cites document management, record keeping and paper printing and storage as “vital corporate investments”.
Business executives agree, noting that perception and reality are vastly different on the paperless office experience.
“We found that although in our office we may strive to be as paperless as possible, many of our customers are not,” says Paula Bolton, a director at Franklin James Credit Management Ltd, a credit control specialist firm. “We receive paperwork through them on a regular basis. Consequently, keeping track of where we store relevant information for our clients and notes we produce about our clients has been a challenge.”
Risks and Realities in Digital-based Record Keeping Systems
Why is the reality so different for the paperless experience, and the emerging risks so pervasive? While the challenges of going paperless only are myriad, these issues remain at the top of the list.
Software and hardware are always changingIt’s difficult to keep accurate tabs on the types of tools and technologies that are touted as paperless change agents. Getting a grip on exactly what digital transformation needs your firm requires is a constant moving target, especially as data and technology tools and applications grow obsolete.
Companies could see problematic security issuesData breaches are all over the news, and going paperless could expose a firm to potential data loss and the headaches that go with it. The more staffers using a digital-only recordkeeping system, the more aggressively companies have to defend against breaches, and the more companies will need to monitor systems for viruses and privacy issues.
Ransomware – a form of malicious software (or malware) – is a particular issue with digital recordkeeping. In fact, the process that makes digital files so portable is security-wise, is its chief vulnerability. With digital recordkeeping, the data held in storage is easily corruptible. Hackers can steal digital files and hold the information ransom by blocking access to it, until a payment is made (hence the name “ransomware.”) According to Barkly, the number of these attacks on businesses tripled last year, from one attack every two minutes in Q1 to one every 40 seconds by Q3.
Training is a problemCompanies engaged in digital transformation campaigns are also finding that it takes great time and expense to properly train workers to wean them off paper, and on to digital document platforms.
Lost time and costNatural errors that happen—such as incorrectly stored digital records—add to a company’s document management burden. Unless companies are scanning with good reason, other than for the sake of going paperless, they are finding the cost of turning paper into digital documents to be substantial, in ways they hadn’t counted on.
The task of turning a paper record into a digital file is not as easy as simply scanning documents. If the process goes perfectly, it takes an average of five minutes to scan, tag and file a single page. For companies that produce a high-volume of documents, that can equate to thousands, if not millions of dollars a year in labor costs and lost productivity.
The Way Forward? Strike a Balance Between Paper and Digital
Savvy business decision makers are starting to realize the most effective path to successful document management doesn’t demand a hard choice between paper or no paper.
Instead, more and more companies are opting for secure paper record storage solutions that protect the integrity of critical company documents and offer immediate access through scan on demand when needed.
“Our business has been aggressively going paperless over the last year with the addition of new digital systems in every aspect of our business from human resources to operational scheduling and client records,” notes Nick Haschka, CEO at The Wright Gardner, in San Francisco.
Haschka says he still finds his staffers reverting back to paper in certain processes where the reliability of paper is needed.
“We are a field service business with technicians out in the field performing service,” he explains. “While digital work orders and schedules provide solid capabilities such as on-the-go mapping and instant access to related and up-to-date information, the additional overhead of constantly fumbling around with devices imposes real costs to our employees, especially when devices are not a user’s preferred mode of operation.”
That’s where a dependable record management system can help. By blending the best of both worlds with paper and digital-based document management solution, companies can find that sweet spot and better protect and store their documents in a cost-efficient manner.
Better yet, they can count on doing so for years going forward.
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