going paperless one step at a time

A strategy is important in every transformational process. If you are getting digital, you must assure that you are doing it right. Paperless billing, paperless contracts, paperless receipts, and other paperless steps are leading companies through a transformational process. Yes, we are going digital. And it means more efficiency, more profitability, more competitiveness, more compliance and more environmental awareness.

But the fact is that there are some stones on the way. A research provided by AIIM and underlined by Papersoft refers that to implement paper-free processes beyond initial scanning and capture, you need some form of workflow systems. Nearly a half of the respondents, precisely 49%, admitted that they have no workflow capability (or no Document Management System), including 13% who have the ability but don’t use it. And those are fundamental to improve both efficiency and productivity, leveraging business reporting and intelligence and eliminating paper processes from their value chain. Even when they know that it is a hard step because people just love their paper.

Going paperless – Where to start?

The research asked to those with no paper-free processes what would be the most likely trigger to set them off on their first implementation. A mandate from above was the strongest argument, followed by the cost saving demand in a particular area of business. Then come two reactive triggers – changes to compliance or regulatory requirements, or introduction of new processes, forms or approvals. In financial organizations in particular, where such changes happen frequently, it would be much better to have the right infrastructure in place in advance. Almost 18% of responses indicated that availability of a workflow system or an upgrade to their content management capability could also trigger paper-free projects.

In fact, it is time to take care of the paperwork that lies within organizations and start to convert more processes to paper-free. Besides the cost-saving referenced by 47% of the respondents, managers are beginning to understand that the improve response to customers and shortening of end-to-end cycle times are critical in the competitive environment. 30% of the respondents affirmed that. Providing self-service for employees, customers and citizens, along with adapting to the changing workforce would be a potential trigger for 20%, and big data initiatives could be a trigger for 9% of the executives that are thinking about going further in the digitalization process.

Going paperless – The benefits

Based on the survey, faster customer response is the most spoken benefit from paper-free processes, followed by improved productivity, and cleaner audit trails for regulatory compliance. Additional benefits include better monitoring and visibility of the process workflow and fewer errors. Improved remote and mobile access are not high on the list, but this is probably a reflection of back office workers being less likely to work out of the office. It does have big implications for the use of external services, and for business resilience. Better management of exceptions and escalation is an increasing benefit as more adaptive, and case-oriented systems are building-in intelligence that can drive flexible workflows, while still maintaining compliance.

Going paperless – Return on investment

Going paperless also has enormous financial benefits especially highlighted by the CFO and top management. Time to value or payback period is a key parameter that it’s important to 18% of the respondents, although paper-free projects can show dramatic returns in this area. The survey identifies 59% of users that admit having achieved payback from the investment in paperless projects in 12 months or less (a single budget cycle), followed by 28% that have noticed positive returns after just six months. AIIM and Papersoft concluded that these are amongst the highest ROI rates that have ever been reported for capture projects, or any other content management investments.

Facing the facts, organizations are going further on their intent to digitalize paperwork. But specialists advise them to get executive buy-in and get input from all stakeholders. Re-think the process rather than “paving the cow path” is the best recommendation. Almost 36% underline the importance of standards and best practices, and 34% say it is important to have at least one team member with experience or training qualifications. The precaution argument comes from 24% of respondents; that recommend leaders to do research to overcome the “it’s against the regulations or the law” argument.

Above all, imagine how you will compete if in a few years you are still running your business at the speed of paper. Not good, right? The time to act is now, and we are here to help you.

To Dos:

– Highlight the role that paper-free processes can play in speeding up customer response, improving customer experience, and saving back-office costs.
– If you have no existing paper-free processes, pick one to trial.
– Contact us and count on us for supporting and guiding your paper-free journey.
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– Download the Free Industry Watch Report by AIIM and Papersoft “Paper-free progress: measuring outcomes” and see how paper-free is improving productivity, accessibility and compliance, the progress you’ve made and how your organization compares to others.
Paper-free progress: measuring outcomes