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Why businesses need to go paperless now

(Image credit: Image Credit: Rawpixel.com / Pexels)

Many of us will make personal New Year’s resolutions, such as getting fit or saving money, but what about business New Year’s resolutions?

The start of the New Year is a great chance for organisations to plan for the year ahead by conducting an audit of all areas of their business and business processes.  This is a simple check to monitor how they’re keeping up to date with technology and availing of the opportunities afforded by digital transformation.

Part of this transformation includes the move from physical paper to storing, sharing and processing information digitally.

And while some companies have embraced digital technology to go paper free, with zero reliance on paper, for others it may seem unimaginable to operate their business on a daily basis without paper.

But adopting digital technology and going paperless is now crucial for companies to fall in line with Government policy and to assist with compliance to legislation, including the Government’s pledge to go paper free by 2020 and the GDPR that came into place earlier this year.

So, here’s a look at the current situation in the UK and some of the ways in which businesses can benefit from going paperless in 2019.

Are UK businesses embracing digital solutions or sticking with paper?

Research by Statista shows that the UK used over 8.6 million tons of paper in 2016. And estimates state that on average, an office worker will use about 10,000 pieces of paper each year.

Furthermore, research by AIIM found that only 17 per cent of offices have gone paperless, with 56 per cent of respondents using paper to sign contracts, orders and booking forms. This means accounting departments, in particular, are one of the areas of many businesses that still rely heavily on paper.

Thus, the evidence shows that our love of paper is slow to fade and the business case for going paperless still hasn’t won the day: many companies still haven’t committed to going paperless.

The problems with paper

Why do so many businesses fail to cut the paper? Whilst paper feels comfortable, familiar, quick, safe and secure to many people, it can still be more of a hindrance that a help. For example, simply misfiling or misplacing physical documents wastes hours every week across the UK.

Not only paper can be easily lost or damaged, but filed documents are not always secure either, as people who aren’t authorised often have access to them. Although secure filing cabinets can be used, human error can result in them being left unlocked or keys being lost.  Even locked filing cabinets don’t guarantee security.  If someone truly wants those documents they can, albeit illegally.

Paper and paper-based processes are also slow and inefficient compared to automated digital systems, it’s more difficult to capture data from physical documents and reports on paper-based processes are manual and slow to generate. Ultimately, the benefits truly outweigh the risks of sticking with paper, as I will explain below.

Going paperless increases productivity

Research shows that nearly two thirds of office workers spend an hour every day searching for documents, which wastes time and money, and reduces productivity. This wasted time doesn’t include the amount of time it takes to print and file the paperwork either. 

But an automated document management system allows users to quickly search for and find the document they need. And removing laborious tasks such as finding misplaced documents can improve employee satisfaction by giving employees more time to focus on their workload.

Reduce costs

Managing costs is crucial for any business and going paperless (partially or fully) will see you save money in a number of areas.

Firstly, it helps reduces staff costs. The time required by employees to complete tasks will decrease with automation, which in turn means you need to allocate less hours to the tasks you have automated. In addition, if workload increases there is no need to recruit more staff as the automated systems can minimise the effect on workload.

Another factor is a reduction in wasted time and an improvement in productivity. With automated systems reducing errors and preventing bottlenecks in processes, employees will be increasingly productive and able to complete more tasks, which can give time back to the business and prevent unnecessary overtime costs.

Finally, basic costs involved such as paper, printing, copiers will be reduced, but also means that if a supply has run out or the machine is broken there is no longer any unnecessary delays for the team.

Reduce errors

Automated systems lower the risk of human error as they eliminate the need for manual input removing the risk of making mistakes. And documents are always filed in the correct place, so no more misplaced files.

For example, Kefron’s Document Management (DM) solution, which securely captures data from physical and digital documents for easier onward processing, hosts their digital images and documents to make record keeping and lets you automate and manage a wide range of business functions such as policy setting, contracts, accounts payable (AP) invoice processing, HR and quality management.

With invoice processing for instance, invoice data can be captured, validated against a purchase order or sent for approval and then dispatched as clean, checked data to the finance system every time.  Errors are reduced and invoice processing times (either paper or digital), are decreased, which leads to cost savings of up to 75 per cent.

Complying with GDPR

A survey carried out by MaretingSignals.com in August 2018 showed that 37 per cent of businesses in the UK were not GDPR compliant.

The EU has already started taking action against companies found to have not complied with GDPR, and automating your systems offers a great way to ensure your business complies with GDPR.

As part of the process of going paperless, the right digital document management providers like Kefron will help you comply with GDPR in a number of ways.

For example, they can help to review your existing document and data storage processes, develop new document management procedures, deliver staff training and establish a complete audit trail so documents can be easily traced.

Switching to an automated system and reducing, or completely removing paper, also has a number of other benefits, including increased security and fraud mitigation, and a reduced impact on the environment.

Ultimately, switching from paper to digital can seem like a daunting task. But if you get support from the right document management partner, you’ll soon enjoy the huge range of business benefits including greater compliance.

James Smith, Sales Manager, Kefron UK
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