Accountants, solicitors and even the NHS are typical examples of organisations swamped with paper. It creates bottle necks, inefficiencies and wastes so much time.
And they’re not alone.
But the war is on, and even the NHS has been set a target to go paperless by 2018.
Technology is on their side, with electronic document management and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) providing the best possible solutions for transferring paper archives into their digital equivalents.
And the case for going paperless?
• Easy sharing and retrieval of documents
• Better security – no lost documents
• Authorised access only – less opportunity for documents to fall into the wrong hands
• Easy search and retrieval of documents using key word search or by adopting strict filing protocol
• Less storage accommodation required – there’s no need for filing cabinets, fire-proof archive rooms and separate storage
• Easy distribution of documents and quicker reactions to requests for approval, comments, updates etc.
• Every 12 cabinets of paper require an additional employee to manage
• Business continuity in the face of flood, fire or other disaster – backed up electronic files can be retrieved from anywhere
Plus of course there’s a compelling green case for reducing paper usage:
• It takes 24 trees to make one tonne of paper or 400 reams
• The average office document is copied 9 to 11 times
• The average employee prints 10,000 pages per year
• The world loses 4,281 acres of rainforest every hour
These are not all of the benefits by any means, there are many more, including the large competitive advantage gained from running a slick, more efficient operation.
Yet many large organisations, and smaller ones too, have yet to adopt electronic document management – why could this be?
It may be because the thought of transferring tonnes of paper to digital archive is just too big a hurdle to leap, yet the reality is somewhat different.
Optical Character Regnition and electronic document scanning have come a long way, and it now takes just one week to archive around 17,000 documents.
Invoices can be automatically input, and mail distributed in a fraction of the time it takes to take the scenic route to people’s desks.
Text can be electronically searched using key words, and PDF’s converted so their text can be reused. The level of sophistication is worth exploring.
But one word of warning! Staff who quite like to have a chat at the filing cabinet, or go for a meandering walk down to storage may find themselves working that much harder. With just a few clicks required to retrieve the information they need, productivity is in danger of going through the roof!