Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Going Paperless at Work. - 1. Avoid Unnecessary Scanning

Avoid Unnecessary Scanning

(#1 of a series.)

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Last time, we wrapped up a series of discussions about why the office is going paperless and how cloud computing is enabling that transition for more and more businesses.  Today, we begin a new series about important things to consider as you move to a more paperless environment at work.

First of all, let's make it clear that when we talk about the "paperless office", we don't expect to see the total elimination of paper in our offices or at home.  Paper still plays a vital role in business every day.  But, there is a definite trend toward dramatically reducing the amount of paper involved in processing business transactions. Our focus is on the stacks of business documents that must be handled and transported from person to person, stored in file cabinets, retrieved for responding to inquiries, and in general, impeding the speed of business and adversely affecting the bottom line that can now be eliminated. 

Even Xerox states that paper is assuming a different role in business - it's changing from a transactional medium to more of a collaborative medium.  In other words, you'll be processing business transactions using digital versions of your documents and printing a copy only when you need to mark up a document while studying it in detail or collaborating with a colleague in a creative process.  Xerox is developing a rewritable synthetic paper for use in the review and collaboration process to reduce waste.  Their studies have found that 40% of demand-use documents are thrown away within ONE HOUR of origination.

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Secondly, we should briefly mention the reasons why it has become so urgent to move to a more paperless business environment.  The key business drivers are 1) cost, 2) speed and 3) security (see our last blog series).  Additionally, eliminating paper and saving trees is part of the green movement which is rapidly gaining traction in business because of its positive environmental and social impact as well as the positive effect of reducing costs and improving cash flow - something we call "G2" - going green at work puts more green on the bottom line.

So, what do we mean by avoiding unnecessary scanning?  Consider documents that are printed internally in big batch print runs like vendor purchase orders, order confirmations, payroll and accounts payable checks, invoices, statements, sales and financial reports, etc. We're surprised at how many businesses are printing an extra copy of these types of documents to be routed to a central area for batch scanning to digital archive.  This at least allows future access to documents on-demand for faster retrieval and more managed storage, but it wastes paper, takes time and creates extra work that isn't necessary.

Print transforms are available to convert print data streams into individual digital documents, index those documents and route them directly to customers, vendors and individual employees and into a digital archive.  Preset business rules manage the delivery of documents in accordance with the preferences of individual recipients (paper, fax, email, etc., or "multi-channel" delivery).  (See our DocAgent solution suite, specifically the FormServer component, as an example this can be accomplished.) 

So, even if you must print paper in some instances, you can still eliminate scanning a copy; digital archive versions can be created automatically using background processing with indexes extracted from the data stream based on document type to ensure that the documents will be instantly accessible for recall when required.  With print transforms you also gain the additional advantage of being able to easily accommodate requests for digital document delivery as your customers, vendors, trading partners and employees move to more paperless systems.

Look around your organization.  Are copies of documents being scanned to archive after they have been printed internally?  If so, you have the opportunity to make a simple change and achieve a breakthrough in speed and efficiency.


Next time we'll discuss best practices for when and where to capture digital images of business documents.

Until then,

John Queen