Corporate America has long been a black eye in this nation’s pursuit of reducing waste, promoting sustainability, and rescuing the environment from unnecessary destruction.
According to data collected by Gordon Flesch Company Inc., 4 billion trees are cut down each year to make paper. A huge portion of this comes from major businesses, where the average employee uses roughly 10,000 sheets of paper annually. (That’s more than one tree per employee per year.)
The internet, advanced software, and cloud computing have existed for years, yet we’re just now seeing a huge shift towards digitization in the corporate sector. However, once businesses make the change, they typically discover a new world of opportunity.
The Benefits of Digitizing Manual Paper Processes
Digitizing and going paperless isn’t something that should be solely based on the idea of promoting sustainability. Sure, this is a major part of the equation, but it’s just one perk. The reality is that businesses investing in digitizing manual paper processes are also seeing many of the following benefits:
1. Greater Organization and Accessibility
You may have a systematic process for organizing paper files and documents, but it’s far from efficient. Even the greatest physical filing systems take time to set up and retrieve. With digital processes, you get greater organization and accessibility.
Considering that most communication now happens on a computer, it makes sense that you would want information to be just a few keystrokes away. Trying to find a paper file simply takes more time.
2. Increased Productivity
What does greater organization and accessibility mean? In almost every case, it’s going to lead to more productivity per employee. There’s less time tracking down information, which means more time can be spent performing key tasks.
Paperless processes also require less input on the administrative side. There’s no ordering paper, checking quantities, repairing printers and fax machines, or dealing with other issues that traditionally arise. This creates fewer headaches and allows more energy to be poured into the things that matter.
3. Quicker Communication With Clients
One of the most important factors of running a successful business in today’s crowded marketplace is being available to your customers. And with digital processes, client communication is significantly faster and less expensive.
4. Enhanced Document Security
Because of the frequency with which cybersecurity attacks and viruses are highlighted in the news, many business leaders are under the assumption that going digital opens them up to additional risk. But contrary to popular belief, it actually enhances security.
Digital documents can be encrypted for maximum protection, while also allowing for access control. This prevents internal theft (which is actually more common than external attacks) and creates better traceability.
5. Greater Profitability
“Those 10,000 sheets of paper each office worker uses cost more than $500. Multiply that by all the people in your workplace and add in the cost of printers, copiers, toner, fax machines and other devices that can be all but eliminated. The numbers get a little frightening,” Iron Mountain admits. “Then add on the cost of filing cabinets and people to maintain them.”
When it’s all said and done, digitizing processes lowers costs and leads to a beefier bottom line. As a for-profit business, it doesn’t get much better than that.
How to Ensure Successful Digital Transformation
For business leaders reading this article, the biggest question is, how can you ensure successful digital transformation? In other words, how can you make sure that your efforts to move from paper to digital processes are smooth and worthwhile – delivering a positive ROI?
According to Bridgepoint Consulting, which frequently works with clients to tackle the challenge of digital transformation, there are three keys to success:
- Plan the process so that there is a specific map for the implementation and execution phases. This needs to be firmly in place before starting.
- Get buy-in from all Anyone who will be impacted by the process needs to understand what’s happening and be given a chance to get on board.
- Hire the right partner(s) to help with the process. External support is often vital – especially when you lack the expertise needed to get the technical aspects right.
Every company’s approach to digitization will look different. You don’t necessarily want to copy someone else’s strategy step for step, but there is value in studying what works and implementing the takeaways that apply to your situation.
Digitizing for a Brighter Tomorrow
When a business moves away from manual paper processes and pursues digitization – whether in isolated areas or across the board – there are benefits that move beyond saving trees and protecting the environment. But the irony of the situation is that, by showing businesses the more tangible perks, we’re able to make major strides towards a more sustainable future. The two concepts go hand in hand.