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Going paperless: Will it work for your business?

Going paperless: Will it work for your business?

For some organisations, employing digital technology rather than hard copy materials makes sense, but others need a physical paper trail. We go over some questions to ask to help you decide the best way to go paperless – if it’s right for you.

 

Will it save you money?

As well as the paper, think about supporting items – ink cartridges, envelopes and other stationery, trips to the post office, space taken up by filing cabinets. If you want to minimise your overheads, going paperless could be the answer. At the same time, moving your paper-based files into the data cloud will require an initial investment of time and labour. Most business cloud providers charge a subscription fee, and you may also need to upgrade your IT infrastructure.

What do your customers expect?

The key benefits of paperless business solutions are, quite simply, easy data access and better organisation of files. Gone are the days of hunting for the right piece of paper when all the information you need can be retrieved by clicking a search button.

For some types of businesses, however, paper still plays an important role. If you are signing sensitive agreements, for example, your customers or partners may insist on keeping it all paper based. Data loss caused by system failure can also be a concern, so you will want to ensure you have good backup and security policies in place, and that your employees are following them. On the other hand, fire, floods and other physical hazards could be just as damaging to a paper-based business. Weigh your options carefully.

What do your employees prefer?

Studies such as this one by Elsevier suggest that screens are, quite simply, harder to read than ordinary paper. But this may not be an issue if your staff are ‘digital natives’; that is, if they grew up with smartphones and other technologies that they have interacted with from an early age.

Some employees, on the other hand, may not be as easily sold on the idea. Marking off items on a paper to-do list can be more motivating than deleting text from a screen. Making notes, reviewing documents and sharing information in meetings can be done more easily with paper. But it’s also worth noting that many digital tools – such as enterprise social networks – are making major strides in these areas. Encourage your employees to embrace a paperless system by showing them just how easy it can be to navigate these systems.

All businesses are different and going paperless may work better for some than others. As the world goes digital, however, it’s worth weighing up the time and costs associated with moving to a paperless business versus the potential productivity gains and cost savings that can result.

Taking into account your employees’ preference is key to deciding whether or not to go paperless. Are you sure they’ll speak up?

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