I want to reduce paper in our office - 5 KEY FACTORS
There are several ways paper can be reduced or eliminated in an office. Selecting the best approach for you, your team and your organisation will generally depend on several key factors.
5 key factors for reducing paper in your office:
The current level of computer literacy in your team and the appetite for increasing digital working
Going paperless is a big change in the way people work. If your team is primarily composed of people who have been using the same systems and doing things the same way for a long time, learning new technology might be difficult for them and their resistance to change could make it difficult for the paperless project to be successful. Going paperless in stages, one small step at a time, will still give you some of the benefits of being paperless while making sure the paperless project is seen as a success.
Senior management’s backing to “going paperless” and “digital transformation”
More and more we come across senior managers who tell us “the MD hates paper. He/She wants us to go paperless”. That’s great news and will smooth many a wrinkle that may appear as the project deploys. However, if that’s not the case, and you have a team with low computer literacy and high resistance to change – one small step at a time with a clear proven ROI will be necessary: probably best to start with scanning to archive (see approaches below).
Technology already in place
You may already have somewhere in the business, or in the IT systems you already use, applications and/or functionality that would allow you to store scanned documents, connect to electronic document management systems, automate processes. An audit of existing systems and their functionality is often a good place to start.
There’s technology available for all budgets, from a few hundred pounds to hundreds of thousands. Calculating the return on investment is therefore key to selecting the right solution for you. What benefits will you get? Can you quantify them and attach a cost saving?
Your team/ department/ organisation’s current position in the paperless journey
“Going paperless” is a journey with a number of stepping stones. Where your team, department and organisation is on that journey will likely determine what the next step is for you. Have a look here and see where you think you are.
Depending on your answers to the above five points, there is likely to be one, or a mix, of the four main approaches below that is the right one for you and will help you reduce paper in your office:
Scan the existing paperwork to convert it to digital files
This will drastically reduce the amount of paper handled, speed retrieval up and give you office space back, but what should you scan exactly? Will you do it in-house or outsource it? Are you required to keep archive records for a number of years in order to comply with regulations? If these are scanned in accordance with BS 10008 you can legally destroy (securely shred) the original copies.
Scan future paperwork after you’re finished with it, i.e. instead of filing it
And what about going forward? Once the existing paperwork is scanned, what will you do with the new paper generated? You could continue working as is and file it, to have it scanned quarterly or annually. Or you could scan immediately instead of filing. If so, should that be done in-house or outsourced?
Scan future paperwork as it comes to your team and encourage clients, suppliers, other departments to send you digital files instead of paper
This approach implies a greater level of change for your team as it means they’ll do their work from a digital document as opposed to a paper one as they are currently used to. With the right technology in place, the return on investment here can be very significant.
Be digital in the first place
Use electronic forms, digital signatures and a good document management system to facilitate working and collaborating with others on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF and other digital documents.
Unfortunately there’s no “one size fits all” path to going paperless or paperlite. Even within the same organisation, different teams and departments often are at different stages and so choosing the right solution for you and your team might not be straightforward. A successful paperless project is one which minimises disruption, facilitates change for people in the team and provides the desired return on investment.
Since 2002 Papershrink has been helping companies reduce the amount of paper they produce and end their reliance on paper. Let’s have a conversation and see how you can reduce the amount of paper in your office.