Starting the paperless momentum has four primary advantages to an organization; it will improve knowledge and data management, it will increase data efficiencies; it will improve worker productivity and prepare the organization for the remote and mobile workforce environment.
The following are recommendations to reduce paper used by individual employees;
Reduce Desktop Printers: Employees who print electronic data create their own paper pile up. The easier and more convenient it is to print documents, the more likely it is that paper use will increase. One way to reduce paper use is to reduce individual and desktop printers. By making printing less convenient, employees begin to be more mindful before printing their data.
Improve User Skills on Managing Electronic Data: If users understand how to organize, file and manage data electronically well, then they will feel more comfortable keeping data electronically and will have fewer propensities to print it. Provide training and instruction to users on best practices of filing and organizing electronic data.
Improve User Knowledge on PDF Conversion and Use: Users need additional training on using PDF software. In particular how to merge and combine PDF documents, how to convert emails and other MS Office documents to PDF, how to extract/add pages into a PDF and how to make comments/notations. A large portion of paper printing is to re-scan in documents in a certain order, to remove or add pages or to add a copy of an email to an official paper file.
Implement e-signatures: Implement the use of signing documents electronically. Provide clear guidance and training on how to use and process e-signatures.
Automate Paper Processes: There are still paper-based processes (mainly with multiple signatures needed on a document) that could be automated and managed electronically. Identify those processes that require paper printouts and engage a productivity or IT consultant to suggest electronic alternatives.
According to a study by the CAP Venture Group, it is estimated that 80% of information is still retained on paper even though more than 80% of the documents we work with are already in a computer somewhere. According to Xerox, approximately 30% of printed documents are for one-time use only and further studies found that about 45% of documents printed in a typical office are thrown away within 24 hours. Another Gartner study called “Electronic Document Management” revealed that the average document was copied between nine and eleven times.
One of the keys in gaining efficiencies in data management and increasing productivity is to reduce the paper workers manage. A key component to creating a paperless office is to create user trust in finding and accessing data electronically. Employees are inundated with data in multiple formats and finding it more and more difficult to manage the amount of data and be effective and efficient at their job. Without a consolidated system to manage data along with sound file structure and data management guidelines users will tend to keep a ‘backup’ copy of data and records in paper. Although paper does have its uses for work purposes such as reading, reviewing at meetings or processing data, it is not the optimal format to archive, store and file records and documents. When moving towards a paperless office it becomes even more vital that file structures, whether on a Shared Drive network or in a cloud-based system, is well-organized. It is also important that there is a clear and designated location to store data when there are multiple document and record systems available to users. Finally, data management practices need to be clearly defined such as document naming conventions, versioning, and data conventions.
For most organizations, shared network drives on computer servers are used to store and share business documents. Every day, employees create and manage electronic information to support their work. In fact, it is estimated that 95% of all new information is still stored on network servers. In addition, most organizations permit their employees to store electronic information on a “personal” or “individual” drive that is accessible only to the individual. In addition, there are now project collaboration systems such as SharePoint and Google Sites, which also contain organization data. Managing all of this data and information efficiently and effectively can greatly improve business performance, knowledge management, and productivity.
Employees usually have been given very little guidance and information on saving, filing, deleting, and naming documents onto the shared network drives. As a result, server systems can and have reached capacity limit quickly. It is important to provide staff clear direction on file structure and where electronic records should be saved.
Having an organized shared drive will provide the following benefits for businesses and organizations:
Improve accessibility of data among employees and staff.
Provide a clear understanding of how and where to save files on the shared drive network.
Improve worker efficiency and productivity with quick access of current and historical files and documents.
Reduce duplication of files and provide clear guidelines of version control.
Provide easier access to collaboration with shared files and documents within the organization.
Improve clarity and ease for new employees to access important information quickly.
Lay the foundation for a paperless office by reducing official paper files and increase reliance on electronic file system.
Improve the corporate memory and maintain important history when employees leave the organization.
Become prepared for a transfer to a document or content management system such as Microsoft SharePoint or Documentum.
In order to support those New Year resolutions on being more organized and productive, take time to read from some experts on the subject. Here is a list of recommended productivity and organizational efficiency blogs:
Officiency: Ok, shameless plug, but we do offer a specialized focus on how to utilize technology to improve productivity including application resources and tips. Check out the categories to the right for various topics.
Zen Habits: Definitely one of the top blogs on simplicity and life balance. Leo Babauta is rated as one of the Top 25 blogs on productivity.
LifeHacker: LIfehacker has a series of topics it blogs on, one of which is productivity in the office and at work.
Your Life. Organized.: Monica Ricci, a professional organizer, based out of Atlanta writes on how to organize your life. She is witty and funny and always has some great tips.
ClutterDiet Blog: Lorie Marrero, author of the Clutter Diet book and program, includes hands-on videos to show you how to be more organized in your home and life.
David Allen: Author of Getting Things Done, David Allen, writes blog posts for the Huffington Post on personal and organizational productivity.