Let’s be completely honest; you’re not using a typewriter for business in 2023. This means that every paper document you’re using first existed in a digital format.
You made it in MS Word, Google Docs, Excel, or Sheets and then printed it out. Why?
This document can easily be shared via a collaboration tool, kept on your cloud-based drive, or sent via email.
Electronic documents and digital signatures are completely valid, so why would you ever need to use paper documents?
There’s no reason!
You’re already making a document in a digital format. By printing it, you’re just adding an unnecessary extra step. Not only that, but this extra step increases the costs and harms the environment.
This is just a remnant of the old-school business that needs to die out as quickly as possible.
In 2023, there are no practical reasons for the existence of paper documents; it all comes down to simple nostalgia.
For those still unconvinced (or still on the fence), here are the top five benefits of going completely paperless with your document management.
1.) It’s Less Expensive
Paper usage is not just inefficient; it’s also costly. Companies in the US spend roughly $120 billion on printed forms.
Remember that this is a number in the age where most companies have already embraced some paperless forms. In other words, the figure was significantly higher in the past.
Now, when discussing how wasteful this is, it’s important to stress that most of these printed forms get outdated in just three months.
Still, can you afford to keep these outdated forms? It takes about $1,500 per year to keep approximately 11,000 documents.
This is the money that you’ll spend on storage alone. Seeing how this is printed by a single employee (on average) annually, it’s a significant financial concern.
The cost of paper doubles every 3.3 years. So, you can either increase your spending on paper or go digital. The choice is easy to make.
Since you get to save a fortune in the future, you could argue that switching as soon as possible allows you to save exponentially.
More importantly, since the cost of the paper will keep increasing, going paperless is a scalable solution.
Just sorting documents can cost you quite a bit. How? Well, you may have to hire a new person to manage all these documents or allocate this task to one of your staff members.
This is important because they’ll spend hours doing this instead of their core tasks. When you count the hourly wage, you’ll get the actual figure. Digitalizing can make all these worries disappear.
2.) Files On Demand
The most important aspect of going paperless is that it’s easier to find the files you need.
Instead of rummaging through drawers and folders, you must use the search box and type the right keyword.
Even if you can’t remember the file’s title, even a phrase will get you what you need. Just placing an approximate date will also be of use.
Keeping records and having the proper documentation is essential for the sake of both transparency and legality.
This is especially true when it comes to compliances and similar legal documents. Previously we’ve discussed how difficult it is to keep files in paper form.
In digital format, you can keep them forever, buy more storage when needed, and find the document you want in minutes (or seconds).
Collaboration is also significantly easier. Sharing documents and working on the same document becomes much easier when they are in digital format.
Even without collaboration tools, it’s easy for many people to work on the same file in real time.
This facilitates the flow of ideas and makes edits quick and easy. In other words, it could improve the productivity of your staff.
Another area where this matters is client communication. While keeping your team members updated is vital, sending valuable information to your clients and partners is just as relevant.
You can also give them access to enter changes and make suggestions. This way, you get a digital footprint of all the changes, making resolving future disputes and misunderstandings easier.
So, with digital documents, you get quick editing, great collaboration, and files on demand. All three of these things you would lack with traditional documents.
3.) Form Templates Facilitate Workflow
The right online professional form templates can be customized in minutes and save you hours of work. They say that finding the first sentence for a novel is 50% of all work.
Sometimes, people lose too much time picking the right format that they completely neglect the content. Templates can help you with this.
A template gives you a clear structure (rules) to abide by. While this is great for new employees, even experienced technicians are more efficient when using the right templates.
By reducing the effort they would have to spend on menial tasks, you’re allowing them to focus on the more creative/challenging aspects of work.
It’s not just about saving time; it’s also about not exhausting your employees.
In the digital world, you can access far more templates, and altering them is much easier. You can make your templates and browse through thousands of pre-made templates.
Finding a template and customizing it to match your needs is usually more efficient. Regardless of your path, it’s always better to have a choice.
Standardization is another vital aspect that templates provide. Some task processes require a rigid format, so having a template speeds things up.
It also allows you to avoid inconsistencies and reduce the potential for error. If a procedure is a priority, templates are impossible to avoid.
The bigger your company grows, the more you need standardization. In other words, this method is incredibly scalable.
In the end, even standard forms are templates; today, they exist in a digital format. Why not just fully embrace this?
4.) Ecological Implications
Generally speaking, if you plan to reduce your company’s carbon footprint, you should first go paperless.
One argument that no one is disputing is that digitalization is more eco-friendly than paper-based document management.
Massive data centers are power-hungry, meaning they’re not 100% clean. However, compared to the paper manufacturing industry and the effects of deforestation caused by it, it’s not even close.
While alternative paper-making methods exist, roughly 93% of paper still comes from trees.
To an outsider, it may seem like digitalization is slowly reducing the scope of this problem, but according to some estimates, the demand for paper will double by 2060.
In other words, things will get a lot worse unless we change something radically.
It’s not just about cutting trees. These trees need to be processed in massive plants using complex chemical processes.
This is why the paper industry causes many greenhouse gas emissions. By using paper and buying paper, you are directly fueling this industry.
So, what happens to all that paper when you no longer need it? It probably ends up as waste and further adds to pollution. Some estimates claim that about 50% of all business waste is paper.
5.) Security And Backups
Keeping data in a digital format seems risky. After all, a server could go down, or you could permanently delete a file. While both of these things are possible, they’re not very likely.
On the other hand, printed documents are as unsafe as it gets. There is an estimate that an average company loses roughly 7.5% of all its paper documentation.
Statistically speaking, large companies lose a paper document every 12 seconds. The larger your business gets, the more documentation you’ll have.
This means that you’ll lose more crucial documents. With digitalization, the number of documents doesn’t matter.
You’re doing fine as long as your storage is secure and you keep all your files in one place.
Now, let’s talk about the possibility of a disaster like a fire or a flood. In these scenarios, you would save lives, not property.
Even if you were to save property, you would more likely save equipment than documents.
You can’t take them all, and deciding what to take would be mission impossible even if you had enough time for revision (which you don’t).
The consequences of losing these documents would be catastrophic.
Let’s be frank, the majority of files that you have in storage also exist in a digital form. You didn’t type them out with a typewriter.
So, in a case of an accident or a loss of a file, you would look for the original document and print it out again. Needless to say, this entire procedure sounds like a textbook definition of redundancy.
Going Paperless Is The Only Sensible Way To Manage Your Documents
In 2023, you can choose between having a document in paper form and a digital form or just in paper form.
Digital is mandatory, while the paper is completely optional, even if it sometimes doesn’t feel so.
Other than this, going paperless is cheaper, more practical, and eco-friendlier. The choice is more than clear.
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