With the government’s pledge to go paper-free by 2020 and GDPR regulation set to come into force in May, going digital is a hot topic across many businesses as they look to find ways to implement new systems to reduce the reliance on paper records and storage. However, findings from a survey by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) found that despite a greater awareness of digital solutions, there is still some way to go until UK businesses can fully meet the paper-free requirements. In fact, the survey found that only 17% of offices are truly paper free, with 56% of respondents using paper to sign contracts, orders and booking forms, meaning accounting departments feature prominently as one of those that is still heavily reliant on paper.
However, it is clear that going paperless could significantly help a business and bring with it plenty of benefits for the organisation, including increased productivity and reduced costs.
Increased security and fraud mitigation
One of the main reasons workers often aren’t ready to make the change to digital is fears over security. However, digital and automation systems provide much more in terms of keeping data and documents safe compared with paper methods. Automated systems provide complete and instant visibility to anyone authorised to view the documents. Those with access can immediately view the invoices and approve payments, increasing visibility, accountability and providing greater control over the process. An organisation has the ability to choose who has access to documents when it uses an automated process, and technology-enabled segregation of responsibilities goes a long way to mitigating against fraud.
According to Developing People Globally, 57% of office workers spend 1 hour per day searching for documents, which creates a significant issue in terms of wasted time; and this doesn’t even include the time it takes to physically print and file the paperwork. An automated system means a simple search will allow users to find the document they require quickly and with the laborious task of finding misplaced documents being removed from the workload, this can also help to enhance employee satisfaction.
Reduces room for error
Manually captured data is time-consuming, which can cause delays in payments to suppliers, who in turn may re-send invoices, creating duplicates and increasing the potential for human error. Automated systems reduce the risk for error as information is automatically uploaded, eliminating the need for manual input. Documents are always filed in the correct place, meaning misplaced files become a thing of the past.
Reduces storage needs and costs
With the need for less paper the physical need to store it becomes redundant, freeing up office space, which for some may mean cost savings on rent. Furthermore, having less paperwork and filing cabinets around the office helps provide a less cluttered working environment for staff, and improves the appearance for visitors.
In addition, with less need for paper costs for ink, toner and the paper itself can also be saved. As all documents can be securely stored within a cloud-based system, those requiring access will do so via a web based user interface using secure log-ins for verification purposes.
Business is no longer confined to the office
A complaint many businesses receive from prospective customers is that payments can’t be processed when the indivudal approving them is not in the office. With a cloud-based service users can access documents remotely across devices, including smartphones, laptops or tablets, resulting in a reduction in invoice approval times.
A more sustainable business
With more of us becoming aware of the impact of how our actions can affect the planet, it’s increasingly important to take steps to reduce our waste. By diminishing the need for large amounts of paper, we can create more environmentally-friendly businesses.
Hopefully you will now understand more about the benefits that automation can bring to your business. Making the jump from paper to digital can seem daunting, but by engaging with an expert in the systems available you’ll be given the confidence and expertise you need to change.
Kristina Russell is UK Sales Manager of Kefron