Think about how much paper your organization uses on a daily basis. Are important emails often printed out to refer to throughout the day? Are reports printed and distributed to an entire department? Are invoices still reviewed on paper? When added up, the amount of paper used in a single day is staggering.
Eliminating all of this paper from being printed and passed around is the ultimate goal for a company that has or is starting an eco-friendly initiative. The often over-looked component of going green is that it also saves and increases the other green paper we like – money. When looking at going paperless as part of your green initiative be sure to focus on the cost-cutting you’ll achieve by removing paper through technology. As fewer reams of paper are delivered, the cost savings continue to grow.
Getting Started – Using Your Existing Equipment
A good place to start is focusing on reducing paper used by fax machines and copiers. Today’s advanced fax machines enable you to convert incoming faxes to PDFs, which can then be emailed to the appropriate people. The same option is available on today’s copy machines. Instead of printing copies on paper, simply copy to PDF and email the file to anyone who needs it. The all-in-one printer/fax/copier machines make this a simple process. In addition, send faxes directly from your desktop without printing the documents. To realize the savings, just consider the fact that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Next Target - Paper Heavy Processes
The next area to focus on is identifying from the departments that rely too heavily on paper as core to their processes. A usual suspect is the Human Resources (HR) department. It needs to hold on to all employee files, such as I9s, benefits forms, applications and more. Many of these documents can be converted into digital files and accessed on-line, in real time. Instead of circulating paper, the department sends out emails with PDFs, or preferably, links to the secure files online. This same technology can be used across departments - for storing and accessing client contracts, invoices, loan documents and more. As the files are online, finding the information you need takes seconds. Not only does this reduce the paper, but it also eliminates lost and misfiled documents and increases security.
Of course, many departments work on paper-based documents and are reluctant to make the shift. This transition can be eased by implementing workflow associated with the documents so that reviews and approvals are completed on the desktop instead of on the desk. An example of this is the implementation of an accounts payable automation solution. E-invoicing and invoice imaging remove the paper from the AP process. The images with captured information is then automatically routed for approval and then sent to the ERP system for payment. What was once a paper-intensive process is now paperless.
Choosing the Right Partner
This is just the starting point.How do you actually get the ball rolling on this eco-friendly approach? The easiest and most cost-effective way is to find a document management service provider that offers everything from business records storage and imaging to virtual file rooms and workflow technology. With an understanding of how paper is managed today, but also providing a bridge to the digital future, this type of provider can help put your organization on the eco-friendly path that will increase security, eliminate lost documents, streamline processes, and reduce costs.