The paperless office: Think digital to become successful.

A paperless office. Isn’t that what everybody wants?

The idea of having a paperfree office exists since many years. The introduction of the personal computer made people think about it. However, we did not reach the idea of going paperless at all.

People love paper so why not print a copy of your e-mail for example? During a number of years I guided many organizations, departments and individuals to adopt and embrace the paperless idea. Believe me, it is not an easy task as a shift in the organisations’ culture is needed. It goes beyond a few individuals, corporate policies need to be put in place.

New generations have a different view on the matter. They want to see paper replaced by improved work methods, tools and devices. This is the point where it gets interesting.

How to create a paper-free office?

Removing paper has limitations as it is just not possible to remove all paper out of our world. However, some processes can be automated in a way that paper isn’t part of the game anymore. Rethinking or redesigning a process is part of the exercise!

Discourage the use of paper: Apart from the idea of redesigning processes it is still mandatory to have an active 'paper ban' policy. You can do this by reporting figures on the use of paper on copiers and printers. POWERBI, a part of Office365, is a tool that supports such analytics. An extra motivation can be to reward the department that proves to print less.

Rethinking business processes is definitely the right choice. The use of workflows and forms can support the process. It is also an opportunity to have an open discussion on the way you work!

Search is the key to success. Ever thought about the number of hours you spend on searching a document in the archive? On a yearly basis, this costs a lot of money. Money that you can invest in working more efficient for example adopting extensive search capabilities in the digital workplace. 

Say hello to new tools and working methods! Scanning is one of the ultimate tools to transform paper into digital documents. The smart scanner makes sure that documents are OCR'ed because it makes them searchable.

Tools and devices

Scanning is of course tool number one to get digital. However, a lot of other tools can support your digital strategy. Think about the following:

  • E-signature decreases the time needed to receive a signature.
  • Evernote or OneNote can be used to keep track of meeting minutes, no more paper distribution.
  • E-invoicing should be a standard these days
  • E-books to support customers and employees

The role of workflow tools

Going paperless means change. And guess what… People don’t like change. However, it should not always be like that. Workflows can solve a number of practical issues like for example the procedure when someone needs to e-sign a document within 24 hours and the assigned person is on holiday. In this case, the workflow can forward the task to the backup person. Thus continuity and speed are guaranteed. If you think about process-automation, you should take the time to sit together with the team and overthink the process with the technological possibilities in mind.

Advantages and disadvantages of the paperless office

Advantages are

  • Cost reduction
  • Less physical storage needed for paper documents
  • Search capabilities
  • Tele-working
  • Information everywhere available
  • Daily online reporting about the status of processes

Disadvantages are

  • Misuse of information
  • Hacking threat
  • Having a chat with a colleague when searching papers

Technologies

Enterprises that decide to move forward with the idea of a paperless office can always contact us, but apart from that, we provide you with some tools that can support your organisation in the journey to a paperless office. 

  • Evernote for meeting minutes.
  • Alfresco and Liferay for document management and collaboration.
  • Docusign and Adobe sign for E-signatures.
  • Elastic search for digital search.