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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Ryan

Introducing the Paperless Office

A paperless office is the first step toward digital transformation. The deliberate removal of paper from processes delivers improved efficiency.


Organisations today remain at the mercy of paper-based systems, despite available technologies to reduce paper usage, if not remove it, altogether.

In fact, only 18% of companies today can be considered truly paperless. Scary, isn’t it?

What’s even scarier are the BIG problems with using paper. Handling paper is cumbersome, impedes productivity, reduces operational efficiency, and costs companies money — and a lot of it.

One study estimates that the time wasted from processing paper, costs organisations close to $20,000 per knowledge worker, per year.

The Disadvantages of Paper-based Processes

Paper-based systems are a cost-burden, impede workflows, and pose serious security risks.

The Cost Burden

Gartner estimates that companies spend between 1 to 3% of their revenue on office printing. That doesn’t even account for the cost of filing, shipping and storing documents— let alone the cost of the actual paper.

In conducting original ROI research studying the cost benefits of investing in content management, Nucleus Research found returns $8.55 per dollar spent for SMBs alone. This report reveals the key benefits and best practices for small and medium sized businesses to start saving on every dollar and win back employees' time.

And, let’s not forget the indirect cost: Paper-based processes are a time-suck and remove knowledge workers from more productive and high-value tasks. The time that employees spend on these unproductive tasks could be costing your company thousands of dollars. Indeed, according to a 2012 IDC White Paper...workers waste a significant amount of time each week dealing with a variety of challenges related to working with documents. This wasted time costs the organisation $19,732 per information worker per year.” For an organisation of 1000 employees, productivity losses are equivalent to hiring a whopping 213 employees.

The Security Risks

An annual report submitted to Congress by The HHS' Office for Civil Rights revealed that paper records account for 62% of data breaches in companies of over 500 employees. This statistic shouldn’t surprise you. After all, paper is by its very nature impermanent, so unless you have a digital back up, you remain vulnerable to such breaches. You’re also open to theft and damage due to natural disasters, such as floods, which can impact business continuity.

Furthermore, printers, which remain common in many organisations, are insecure by default and also open to hacking — yet another security risk for your organisation.

Paper impedes workflows

The same IDC survey mentions that the wasted time associated with handling paper leads to a productivity loss of 21.3%. Indeed, many employees struggle to stay on top of daily tasks and workflows because they're inundated with information and hampered by inefficient, paper-based business processes.

Moving paper through your organisation, without first converting it to electronic form, is notoriously slow. Information workers waste time capturing, storing, and routing documents to others due to manual processes.

These tedious manual processes, in turn, reduce operational efficiency and create a “document disconnect,” which results in delays and errors as documents move between critical business functions such as procurement, accounting, sales, and human resources (HR).

Many employees struggle to stay on top of daily tasks and workflows because they're inundated with information and hampered by inefficient, paper-based business processes.

Introducing the Paperless Office

The paperless office is the first step toward digital transformation in your organisation. It refers to the deliberate removal of paper from processes, with the goal of improving efficiency. Digitisation is at the core of the paperless office.

What does it mean to go paperless?

Information that started as paper is transformed into electronic form. Documents are scanned, indexed, and stored securely in a central repository for easy retrieval.

Processes that were manual are now automated. For example, the right document management system will integrate with other applications for streamlined workflows across business functions.

You can access documents, any time, anywhere, and from any device. This is critical if you have multiple offices or employees that need access to documents remotely.

What are the benefits of a paperless office?

Here are three key benefits of going paperless and case studies showcasing how companies have benefited:

1. Reduced operational costs

Digitizing internal paper-based systems reduces printing and other operational costs:

- Storage costs:

There’s no longer a need to purchase filing cabinets or use valuable floor space to store paper or keep hard copies for future reference.

- Copying and printing costs:

With digitization, you don’t need to create multiple copies of a file for distribution around <span the office. You can use a digital document management system to store one copy in a central place, for easy access.

- Business process costs

Because you’ve transitioned from manual to automated workflows, you streamline business processes and reduce costs. For example, optimizing workflows can lead to faster payment collection and a reduction in purchasing costs.

- Security and data recovery costs:

Securing your data to multiple locations is easy and inexpensive. Recovering that data is even easier, with no impact on business continuity.

2. Regained time for productivity

When content is stored centrally and correctly indexed, it’s easily accessible. Employees won't have to waste time searching for those files and can quickly share information across your organization.

Easy access and the ability to share documents rapidly, speeds up processes and contributes to time gains in crucial processes such as invoicing, employee on-boarding, and collections. For example, you can speed up automate invoice processing by automatically linking related documents like purchase orders, bills of lading, contracts and more.

You can also save time by integrating applications. For example, by integrating document management systems, invoicing, and customer relationship software, you’ll avoid siloing tasks and ensure the smooth flow of information.

3. Better security and compliance

Securing your data is in your best interest. If you don’t, you risk losing business-critical information that can have a negative impact on business continuity and client relationships.

Digital systems let you work in a safer and more secure environment: You’re better protected from security breaches due to document and communication encryption and can control who has access to specific files.

Maintaining compliance with mandates such as HIPAA and is also far easier, and you’re better prepared should disaster strike: Multiple and secure redundant backups help you effortlessly recover data.

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