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Don’t play the waiting game: speed up savings by going paperless

(Image credit: Image Credit: Jason Truscott / Flickr)

‘Patience is a virtue’ is an outdated concept. It is no longer acceptable to have to wait for a website to load, a video to buffer or to be expected to refresh emails every hour to check if a contract has been scanned, signed and sent. Worse still, continued use of archaic processes such as ‘snail mail’ slows business down to a crawl, impacting the time it takes to complete a transaction. This is also likely to be detrimental to the customer experience, and risks losing their business altogether. By taking the process digital, businesses can see an average reduction of 13.5 days in document turnaround time, helping minimise the chances of a customer changing their mind and taking their business elsewhere.

Investing in technology can improve the way a business operates. Collaboration tools, for example, help employees work intuitively so that projects and tasks are completed efficiently and to an exceptional standard. Companies that adopt digital ways of working and evolve accordingly will be able to accelerate processes without compromising on quality.

Out with the old, in with the new

Maintaining outdated business tools can be a significant drain on time and resources. Unlike cassette players or vinyl records, legacy systems are unlikely to see a resurgence, so there’s no need to spend time (or money) maintaining them. Investing in agile software that can adapt to business needs means that additional time can be dedicated to fuelling business growth and improving efficiency.

Take, for instance, processing annual leave requests –  a tedious task. Emails are sent with dates that the recipient must then manually cross-reference with the calendar and await confirmation from the appropriate teams that the holiday has been approved, before responding to the individual’s request. Automation tools can remove this burden from the shoulders of teams, enabling them to focus on business initiatives, from staff retention through to launching new projects.

Uniting teams with digital tools

Beyond tools, let’s look at people. Why did you hire your employees? Their unique set of skills. But look around the office - are employees interacting? Are they out and about working remotely but unable to communicate with colleagues? An infinitely preferable scenario would involve bringing together your talented workforce by using tools that enable greater collaboration and communication regardless of location. For example, is it a good use of time for an employee to commute to the office, travelling hours during rush hour for a one-hour meeting?

Instead, this time could be better spent focusing on a project that helps achieve business goals sooner. Using digital tools, employees can remotely communicate and collaborate with other team members. Clear lines of communication mean doubling up on work is avoided, and with documents edited in real-time, colleagues can see who is working on a project, what has been changed and what still needs to be approved and finalised. Breaking down these barriers to collaboration encourages knowledge and skill-sharing, helping businesses to get work done in an efficient and timely manner.

Digital tools can also help employees access the information relevant to them, faster. Take emails, for example – an office staple, but cumbersome email chains can be a burden. Scrolling through to find the nugget of information you need can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Investing in communication tools such as Slack helps organise information so that specific individuals are always aware of any outstanding actions and what still needs to be done to get a contract over the line, or a project delivered on time. The tool facilitates instant communication, so simpler tasks can be completed faster without falling to the bottom of an email thread or to-do list.

Going greener

The environmental benefits of going paperless must also be considered. The paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy in the world. To produce just one ton of paper, it is estimated that 253 gallons of petrol is used. In turn, to make just one piece of A4 paper requires 10 litres of water. Consequently, a seemingly minor reduction in usage can have a major environmental impact.

And let’s not forget the importance of customer perception. The fact that your company can positively impact the environment might be compelling reason enough to change. But, also consider this: your company’s green credentials hold stock with today’s consumer and can prove beneficial for your bottom line. Over 80 per cent of consumers value sustainability, and two-thirds are willing to pay more for products from companies committed to positive environmental impact. With all this in mind, it is clear that a digital future is better for everyone.

Closing deals sooner

From a sales perspective, finalising an agreement with paper contracts can take weeks, but going digital can reduce this to a matter of days, or even hours. For example, eSignature solutions can help complete documents in under an hour, offering customers an average reduction in turnaround time of 13.5 days.

Keeping paper to a minimum in the office by automating proposals, contracts and other customer documents allows employees to focus on selling more products and services faster, rather than chasing down signatures and edits to documents. This works externally as well: customers and partners that are required to fill out forms manually can make errors that are time-consuming to correct and slow the pace of  business. In fact, with an eSignature solution in place, energy provider E.ON now completes HR transactions in as little as 10 minutes. It has also improved document preparation by four times resulting in a productivity saving of 45 days annually. With online document management solutions this risk is removed for a faster, more accurate process, helping to get crucial transactions over the line.

Businesses which lack the necessary technology to enable efficient ways of way risk losing out to competitors. Allowing employees to work collaboratively, without the administrative paper-based burden can help avoid delayed approvals, lagging workflows and opportunities for miscommunication. In essence, digital tools can help cut the time it takes to get business done, creating a new business model which provides greater scope for deals to be closed sooner and the bottom line to grow more rapidly.

Helen Sutton, VP Enterprise Northern Europe, DocuSign
Image Credit: Jason Truscott / Flickr

Helen Sutton is VP Enterprise Northern Europe at DocuSign.