Posted January 8, 2014 by Antonio Ferraro in 5s news
 
 

Is It Time to Buy Into the Paperless World?


Going paperless is an obvious way to reduce waste and help out the environment, but most business owners aren’t concerned about lifting the burden on Mother Nature. What most owners are concerned about is helping their businesses operate more smoothly and on less funding, and that’s exactly what would happen after eliminating paper documents. The benefits of going the paperless route are many and significant, but making the switch can be timely and expensive. Fortunately, the long-term advantages of running a paperless operation almost always outweigh any potential cons. The following benefits have convinced many business owners to buy into the paperless idea.

Decrease in Cost of Daily Operations and Reduction in Total Budget

cost-savingsThe operation of a business always involves money, but a business will never succeed if you spend too much of what’s coming in. Profit is the ultimate goal of any business, and it won’t even exist if expenses are overwhelming. The fact of the matter is that most businesses don’t even break even until several years have passed–and those are the ones that are lucky enough to last that long. There are various ways for a business to cut costs and allocate funds to more important causes, and going paperless is definitely one of them.

When paper is out of the picture, your business can save money in many different areas. First, it will no longer be necessary to buy as many printing supplies or any at all. You won’t have to cough up the cash for printers, printer paper, ink cartridges, repair costs, the energy costs of powering the printers, postage, folders and other storage items for the papers, related items like staplers, and more. Transitioning to an electronic system for creating and storing documents means that you will only have to pay for the initial hardware, installation costs, and the energy costs of running the system.

In addition to the thousands in savings earned from getting rid of paper and printing supplies, business owners can save huge amounts when it comes to paying employees. Employers only want to pay their workers for high-quality work, so it makes many cringe to see a drop in productivity. Well, an office worker who earns $15 per hour and spends an hour each workday printing off massive loads of papers will make the company lose out on more than $5,000 worth of productivity annually. After getting rid of paper, employees will be able to spend more time doing meaty tasks. Since working with paper is much more time-consuming, it requires more manpower and more pay for the work done. Consequently, going paperless means that employers can downsize their workforces since fewer workers are needed when everything is digitized. That means paying fewer workers to get the same amount of work done.
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General Increase in Business Efficiency and Productivity

increase-productivityOne of the major ongoing goals of any business is to streamline operations because efficiency is one of the secrets to business success. A business that is not efficient will waste valuable time and resources on doing unnecessary tasks. Eliminating paper documents is one big way to improve business function as it should guarantee an increase in efficiency and productivity for just about any type of organization.

The elimination of paper documents will result in a redirection of human resources that benefits the business. Instead of paying your workers to spend hours every day doing mindless tasks such as filing documents into their appropriate folders, placing folders into their appropriate file cabinets, sorting through papers to locate a specific document, printing thousands of pages of documents, refilling ink cartridges for printers, maintaining and troubleshooting printers and more, you could have them focus on bigger and more important tasks such as bookkeeping or providing customer service. Switching over to a paperless format means that no worker will need to be paid for doing tedious and menial physical chores that can be accomplished by children. Employees will be far more useful and productive when their educational backgrounds, past experiences, and current efforts are concentrated on anything but basic organizational duties. In a manufacturing environment, workers can use more time manually assembling products or operating machinery without paper. Operating procedures, safety guidelines, and general communication can be displayed digitally on monitors placed all around the facility. Employees in an accounting firm would be able to work on financial calculations, balance budgets, file taxes, and do plenty more while spending less or no time at all on keeping track of paper receipts, tracking down paper financial records, or organizing their many documents. Everything that can be done on paper can be done more easily using a computer, so there is no real need for paper products in a modern business.

Without paper documents, employees also gain the ability to access all files quickly and easily using an electronic database. An extensive database that contains all the digital documents of an organization would make locating individual files much easier than having to shuffle through multiple file cabinets and mountains of papers. Finding a specific document would be as simple as typing a word or phrase into a search bar and hitting “enter.” Within a matter of mere seconds, the search results would pop up, and the task would be completed. What this all comes down to is time. When time is used wisely, important things get done. The idea is to be able to do things faster so that time isn’t wasted. There are only 24 hours in a day and eight in a typical workday, so everything that needs to be done has to be accomplished during that time. Papers create clutter, clutter creates inconvenience, and inconvenience burns up valuable time.

Better Security with Electronic Documents

security-documentsSecurity is enhanced in two major ways after going paperless. First, gaining access to electronic files can be extremely difficult after the right security measures have been put into place. An administrator can block access to specific folders or files or allow employees to have certain privileges such as reading or modifying the document depending on their rank within the organization. With the vast amount of security technologies currently available, electronic files and databases can be near impossible to break into for the average computer hacker. A file cabinet, on the other hand, can be broken into with basic tools that can be found in any hardware store. Most owners would agree that they feel safer with top-secret company data being stored electronically as opposed to being placed in a folder somewhere on the premises.

Electronic documents are more secure than paper documents because they are more easily recovered when accidentally deleted or misplaced. Files that are stored on cloud or using some other electronic method can be accessed from any computer or compatible device with the right permissions. Even when an employee loses a personal copy of a document, it can usually be downloaded again with no problem. With a physical copy, it’s permanently gone when you misplace it unless copies were already made. Papers are harder to collect and keep tidy in large quantities, but electronic files can be accessed, modified, and maintained with speed and simplicity.

Declutters Office Space to Improve Productivity

Paperwork is messy and space-consuming. Working in a cramped and unorganized office is detrimental to productivity. A space that is severely limited by stacks of papers and bulky filing cabinets is difficult to maneuver making employees waste time when going here and there. Efficiency and speed go hand-in hand, so employees need to be able to quickly get to where they have to be to maximize their value to the business. A cluttered space can also be distracting, uncomfortable, and unsafe–all of which negatively affect employee performance and the quality and quantity of work produced.

As you can see, there are numerous benefits of going paperless. If your business isn’t currently operating on a paperless format, now is the time to make the switch. Some owners are reluctant to make the jump due to relatively high initial expenses and a timely transition period, but it will be well worth it in the end. If you want a more efficient and more profitable business, buy into the paperless world as soon as you have the ability to do so.

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Antonio Ferraro

 
On behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR, I strive to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. My knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. I believe in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier workplace. Connect with Antonio on Google+