By Tom Franceski, vice president and general manager, DocStar
The “paperless” workplace – where paper forms and processes are replaced by electronic forms and workflow – remains an elusive goal for many companies. A study conducted by AIIM (Association for Intelligent Information Management) showed only 17 percent of respondents have achieved a paperless workplace.
One of the biggest culprits is business forms. In large and small companies, forms are used to capture data in an organized fashion, while triggering internal and external business processes. Forms are used for simple transactions, such as reimbursing employee expenses, for data collection — such as admitting patients into healthcare facilities – and for large, complex transactions such as importing/exporting shipments of products or merchandise. Forms organize the purchase of goods and services, the movement of financial transactions, and the establishment of contracts.
Despite the pervasiveness of forms in use in today’s business environment and our increasingly technology-driven culture, paper forms persist. However, most businesses don’t recognize how much this practice is actually costing their business — in terms of hard costs, as well as productivity and opportunity loss.
Managing physical files, including allocating office space for storage and shipping from one location to the next is costly. It has been estimated that the average cost to store a file cabinet of documents is $1,400 per year and storage requirement for hard copy documents doubles every 3 years.
However, when organizations calculate the cost of employees filling out paper forms, by taking the number of forms completed per day multiplied by the average pay rate, the total cost of the form, including paper and printing can exact an even greater hit on the corporate coffers. Per AIIM, the average cost of a printed form is $4.56, and for some organizations the cost per form can be $10 or more when additional costs are taken into account such as the time required to re-key paper forms into databases and error correction.
The amount of time wasted searching for information represents another significant cost for a corporation, in productivity, efficiency, and knowledge curation. A study by IDC has estimated that “the typical enterprise with 1,000 knowledge workers wastes $2.5 million to $3.5 million per year searching for nonexistent information, failing to find existing information, or recreating information that can't be found,” and it has been estimated that the average knowledge worker spends 8.8 hours per week searching for information, at a cost of $14,209 per worker per year.
Benefits of the paperless office include:
Your non-paperless office is costing you more than you think, but the benefits of going paperless can deliver an impressive level of return on investment. Studies show that enterprise content management (ECM) offers some of the highest direct ROI rates ever reported. One study reported nearly 60 percent of ECM users achieved payback in 12 months or less — a single budget cycle — and 28 percent experienced positive returns after just 6 months.
If your organization is just now starting down the paperless path, you can take heart knowing there is tremendous financial growth to be had which will make the transition considerably worthwhile.
About The Author
Tom Franceski is vice president and general manager of DocStar — a division of Epicor Software Corporation. DocStar proven business process automation technology and workflow expertise empowers organizations to operate at peak performance, navigate change, and grow.