For decades, businesses have expressed their desire to go paperless. But, for some reason, the technology hasn’t exactly allowed this to happen. And while a fully paperless office may never be totally practical, new tools and programs are allowing progressive organizations to get pretty close.
The Push for Paperless
The push for paperless offices arguably started in the 1980s. However, despite more than 30 years of innovation and evolving views on sustainability, we’re actually producing more paper in offices around the country than ever before.
Data gathered by Wired shows that one billion photocopies are made each day, while the annual growth rate for the amount of paper used by the average organization is a whopping 25 percent. Furthermore, there’s somewhere in excess of 4 trillion paper documents in the US alone – a number that grows at a rate of 22 percent per year.
Why is there such a push for going paperless, yet we continue to experience diminishing returns? The clearest indicator is that technology has lagged behind. Thankfully, it appears that times are finally changing.
Technology Provides a Boost
In order to do away with paper, companies have to find alternatives that are practical and convenient. Otherwise, employees will become frustrated and productivity will wane. Thankfully, there are a handful of developing technologies that fit the bill.
1. Document Imaging Software
Are you familiar with document imaging software? The technology has the ability to convert paper documents into an electronic format that can then be filed away and accessed at any time. In addition to eliminating paper, document imaging software is beneficial because of the access and automation it provides. Not only can the same document be accessed simultaneously by multiple users in different locations, but information is also easy to find with simple keyword searches.
The key to successfully using document imaging software is understanding. Bringing on platform-specific consultants to walk you through the various features and applications will ensure you get the most out of it.
2. Electronic Signature Tools
Signatures are a big deal in the business world. In order for paperless to really be practical, there has to be a consistent and widely recognized way to sign and approve papers in a legally binding format. Thankfully, electronic signatures have come a long way – both in technology and legislation – over the past few years. It’s now possible to have multiple parties sign documents without ever printing a single sheet of paper.
3. Project Management Programs
Project managers are accustomed to using a lot of paper. There are different spreadsheets, reports, documents, contracts, proofs, etc. Thousands of sheets of paper can easily be used on a single project, which – in addition to burning resources – takes up a lot of space.
The good news is there’s been a rise in project management technology. Today’s leading software and apps streamline communication and file storage, making it possible to take on an entire project without any paper waste.
Paperless is Now Practical
For the first time ever, the ability to go paperless is no longer a pipedream. If an organization really wants to ditch its dependence on paper, all it has to do is arm itself with the right tools and resources. And while going 100 percent paperless probably won’t ever be an option, who’s to say an ambitious company can’t go 75, 80, or even 95 percent paperless? Technology is no longer a limiting factor, that’s for sure.