Going paperless may seem like a clear and simple solution for many business challenges, but companies of all sizes have been slow to adopt electronic alternatives that reduce their dependence on paper. In fact, today only 17 percent of offices have moved to paperless operations.

The benefits of going paperless span from financial to production. Using software in place of paper transactions can save companies thousands and industries billions of dollars in capital. A recent CAQH report noted, for example, that the healthcare system is losing $9.4 billion a year by using manual transactions.

Going paperless also allows companies to operate more efficiently. Instead of dealing with the costs associated with printing and trying to safely store and keep track of important business documents, business leaders should understand how ditching paper can make a business safer, increase employee productivity, generate higher earnings and support corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Reduces security risks

Using only paper in business operations comes with additional security risks, including unapproved access to confidential documents, loss of availability to crucial business documents and HIPAA violations. Individuals could steal records or access classified company information when it is not stored in digital software, which could result in potential lawsuits for your company. Additionally, 70 percent of businesses are dependent on paper to the point that they would fail within three weeks if they were to lose key physical documents.

On the flip side, businesses can mitigate these potential security issues by using software for document management and access controls, ensuring only authorized employees can retrieve them, and for storage and backup to ensure the availability of a business’s most important files.

Improves employee productivity

Searching through physical documents slows down business workflows and reduces productivity. According to a recent CIO.com article, almost half of all documents employees print are discarded by the end of the day.

Instead, digital solutions enable more organized workflows and allow companies to save time previously wasted on printing, processing or searching through documents. The worktime you gain from improving these processes will enhance efficiency for long-term strategic planning and give employees more time to focus on the part of their jobs that matter most.

Makes companies more profitable

Reducing overhead costs and increasing profitability are key goals for most businesses. The EPA estimates that an office going paperless saves approximately $80 per employee in paper, ink and other printing supply costs, and efficiencies from streamlining manual processes. This can result in significant savings—an organization of 400 employees could save more than $32,000 per year.

Reinforces “green” values

Concern over climate change and pollution and a desire to be better global citizens has pushed many companies to implement eco-friendly business practices. Despite this business trend, data indicates that the average American employee currently uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year, the equivalent of a 100-foot Douglas fir tree. Managing your business information electronically can reduce your overall carbon footprint while decreasing deforestation and pollution. Plus, it’s a great recruitment tactic—a recent Nielsen report indicates that 67 percent of today’s consumers prefer to work for socially responsible companies

Eric Joseph is the president and CEO of Renaissance Electronic Services.

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