WHAT IS A PAPERLESS WORKFLOW?

Every year, more business processes migrate to digital formats, which raises the question: Are we headed toward a fully paperless workflow? It’s clear that document scanning solutions and digital workflow systems lead to significant productivity improvements. However, if you’re still sceptical about the feasibility of an entirely paperless future, you’re not alone. In fact, paper likely won’t be fully replaced by digital anytime soon for a number of reasons.

Paper Popularity

Even as offices adapt to digital workflow systems with the help from document conversion services and other technologies, most businesses still prefer paper. In fact, more than half of workers polled in a recent survey report printing personal paper copies of documents to take to meetings, to read online or when away from the office in order to review and mark up. Perhaps that’s why only 35 per cent of organisations have a maxim to drive paper out of the business. In fact, whilst paper consumption is decreasing in 44 per cent of organisations, it is actually increasing in another 21 per cent.1

Digital Dominance

Despite dismissive attitudes toward the idea of a fully paperless workflow, the advantages of digital processes are clear; and the consensus is that best practises are still headed firmly in the direction of digital. Amongst offices that implement paper-free initiatives, such as digital mailrooms in which incoming documents are scanned at the point of entry, 60 per cent see ROI within 12 months, 77 per cent within 18 months. Overall, 68 per cent of survey respondents agree that “business at the speed of paper” has become unacceptable.2

The question remains: Is a paperless office possible? Is it even preferable? The advantages are numerous: efficiency, sustainability, productivity, saving costs, etc. Yet, for many, paper is always going to play a role in business processes, even if that role is as simple as providing a pad on which to take handwritten notes. That said, many organisations are nowhere near as close to paperless as they could be to reach their productivity potential and their sustainability goals. You don’t have to go fully paperless to reap the rewards of digital dominance.

Rules of Reduction

Scanned document services and digital information management solutions, enabled by advanced technologies, can help offices reduce paper flow by implementing digital workflow, digital document imaging, scanned document management, storage, backup and archiving systems. Here are a few possibilities to consider to improve productivity and help keep pace with the speed of business in the modern world.

  • Mailroom services digitise incoming documents at the point of entry to reduce paper build-up and improve response time.
  • Data capturing extracts and processes essential information from documents, often using optical character recognition (OCR) technology to digitise characters from type and handwriting. The converted machine-encoded text can then be electronically edited, searched, stored and used in machine processes.
  • Digital document imaging preserves paper images, including text and graphics such as architectural drawings and blueprints or plans associated with patented designs.
  • Document hosting provides a backup copy of critical information so you can access the materials you need in the event of a disaster or system failure.
  • Electronic content management (ECM) and workflow of information automate business processes to improve productivity and help meet business goals.
  • Information governance solutions enable indexing and classification of records and provide the ability to apply retention and destruction policies and procedures across multiple repositories.

Sources

1AIIM Industry Watch Report, ‘Paper Wars 2014: An Update from the Battlefield’, 4 November 2014.

2Ibid.



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