Becoming a Paperless Office: Create a Clear System to Manage Electronic Documents

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.

To learn how to organize electronic files on the shared drive, download the report How to Organize Electronic Documents on Shared Drive Networks. Or you are welcome to contact us and we can assist you.

How to Purge Desktop and Office Paper

It is difficult to let go of paper data because we are not sure of its value in the future and the desire to have a tangible format. When purging paper, start with small chunks, such as one file drawer or one desktop pile to go through. It doesn’t need to be all done in one day or at one time. For most documents, users will be able to ascertain what to keep and what can be recycled. It is reasonable to keep some mementos of past history but keep it down to a small file folder size.

 Here are some questions to ask yourself to help deem what to keep in paper or purge;

  • Is there any action required?

If not, you can probably get rid of it.

  • Is it already saved electronically?

If so, then you recycle the paper.

  • Will the organization ever need, want or find value in this information again?

If yes, then consider scanning the information to store it electronically.

  • Is the information outdated and/or superseded?

If yes, then recycle it!

  • Is the information located on the organization Intranet network?

If quick reference to the document is not needed, then recycle the paper and access the data electronically.

  • Does the document or file have legal (current or future) implications?

If so make sure there is an electronic copy or it is scanned in.

  • Is there any legal retention requirement to keep the data?

Documents if saved in an electronic PDF format are sufficient for any legal requirements.

Contact us if you would like assistance in organizing your office or computer.

Becoming a Paperless Office: The Cost, Environmental and Efficiency Benefits

There is a clear environmental need for paperless offices. The paper industry is one of the world’s major polluting industries and one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases with over 900 million trees cut done annually. The EPA reports that paper is the number-one material thrown away, comprising 40% of our waste stream. According to the National Resources Defense Council, “The pulp and paper industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any other industry in the world.”

In addition to environmental impacts, paper is time consuming to manage. Record keeping constitutes more than 90% of all office activity. Studies indicate that of the paper filed, over 80% is never referenced again! One Xerox study showed that over 45% of the office paper that is discarded was thrown out on the day it was printed. A great deal of time is being wasted printing, sorting, purging, and filing paper.

Then there is the cost aspect of paper. According to the Association for Information and Image Management, the lifecycle cost of a document is over $20, which includes the cost of paper, printing, mailing, distribution, and handling fees. An older study done by Coopers and Lybrand in 1998 (now Price Waterhouse and Coopers) estimated the cost of paper management to be about $50 per document. In addition, it takes up valuable real estate, it is estimated that it costs on average $314 per filing cabinet solely for the space it consumes in an office.

Essentially becoming a paperless office could reap the benefits of improved efficiency and effectiveness, reduce cost, and improve the brand and image of the company by becoming a better corporate environmental steward.

Let us help you become the paperless office through our consulting services or our Becoming a Paperless Office training. Contact us to learn more!

Become Paperless: Request all documents electronically

According to a study by Xerox, approximately 30 per cent of printed documents are for one-time use only.  Often our colleagues will put in our desktop ‘in box’ a hard copy of a document. Or often the paper pile-up happens through meeting and training handouts. This is usually based out of user habit or simply people thinking their colleague might be more apt to read it if it is in paper. Ask your colleagues to send you all information via e-mail or other electronic means, and then you can determine if you need to print it or not. Many of the statements and information we receive from vendors can be received electronically, if only ask and request it. Remember almost all data is created in an electronic format so make sure you get it that way and reduce your own paper pile up!

Clearing the Paper Clutter in Your Office

It is hard to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, especially in the information age. We seem to be consuming more paper than ever. According to the HP Internet Printing Index survey workers say they print pages from the Internet an average of 32 pages a day. US companies still file 120 billion sheets of paper annually. Since over 80% of the paper we file is never referenced again, it makes sense to purge your desk and filing cabinets to get a fresh start.

Consumer Research Institute reports that the average American throws away 44 percent of their junk mail unopened. In addition we sometimes pick up information, just because it is information. Ask yourself, “Do I really want it?”, before collecting more paper in your office. The reality is that we are creating our own paper pile up nightmare! Seize the day and throw away!

Some documents need to be kept. For example, financial and tax documents need to be kept for the IRS for 7 years. Often you need to keep paper documents only for a short period of time, but can then dispose of it because you have a record of it electronically. Create a “pending/waiting” box on your desk for such papers that you only need temporarily. Then you can periodically purge it as the issue resolves itself.