3 Reasons Companies are Going Paperless

I am a huge environmental enthusiast. I spent summers roaming around the Upper Peninsula’s dense forests never understanding why people would want to cut something as awesome as a tree down. Any homework I turned in during my grade school years was written on the back of a syllabus or previous assignment. When I have people peer edit my blogs, I upload it to google docs or have them make corrections in Microsoft Word. Being environmentally and paper conscious always seemed like the right thing to do but only when I entered the workforce did I realize that the right thing to do wasn’t always the most logical. I now feel confident in saying that the right thing to do is also the most efficient, cost-effective and of course, environmentally friendly way to run a business.

“Mr. Garratt says that going paperless would have been impossible a decade ago and it was even difficult five years ago, when he started the business. It’s thanks to technology, though, that he’s been able to be free of paper for this long.”[1] If there is anything to take away from this post, it is that thought. One of the big reasons a lot of companies have not gone paperless is not only because the technology needed is/was new or untested, it’s that the technology is finally financially/efficiently viable. Ten or even five years ago, we didn’t have the software or hardware to act as the driver at a completely paperless office. The opening quote was taken from an article written about Idea Rebel, a company in Washington that has gone completely paperless. There were three essential tenants to going paperless at Idea Rebel and those tenants apply to any company looking to do so; economic, environmental and efficiency.

The Costs of Doing Business

There are so many costs attributed to paper usage at a company. You have upfront costs of buying whatever paper products you’re using (business cards, flyers, contracts, etc.), buying variables that have a symbiotic relationship with paper (ink, printers, binders, etc.) and the cost that issues with paper can bring. “The average American uses more than 748 pounds of paper per year.”[2] Take that number and extrapolate that to a business of 42 employees (the average number of employees at a business), in a heavy paper usage industry and that number starts to become unimaginable. The cost of all of that paper runs parallel with the usage, resulting in huge sunk costs for businesses. As internet, cell phones and tablet usage has taken off, so has the feasibility of the paperless office. Slowly but surely, hardware and software has been developed to bypass paper usage. When the marketing department at Dominion Systems has a meeting, all notes are taken on a whiteboard and then when the meeting is over, a picture of the whiteboard is taken and emailed out to all of us, which we then all save in the corresponding folder. So we have every important point made during the meeting saved and securely stored indefinitely without paper and pen or printer and ink.

Mental about Environmental

The poster child for the paperless movement is the environment, no question about it. Not only will ‘environmental-friendly’ make a company look responsible and conscious, having environmentally conscious business practices gives a boost to their bottom line. According to an article in CGMA Magazine, “37% of executives and managers said environmentally conscious actions have added to their company’s profit.”[3] Only in the past couple of years has a paperless office been feasible in every aspect of a business. One of the big hurdles for Idea Rebel was finding hardware/software that accurately captured signatures, a hurdle that was cleared with the advent of signature software developed for tablets and smartphones. Think about a company like Square, whose hardware/software allows anybody and everybody the ability to swipe credit cards and capturing a customer’s signature without ever using a piece of paper. I can’t imagine how many receipts I have received and immediately crumbled into my pocket, only to have them go through the washer or just thrown out when I find them again.

Lose Paper, Gain Efficiency

Here at Dominion Systems, we are a huge advocate for paperless workplaces. A big reason for that is we are in one of the most paper heavy industries –  payroll and human resources. These industries have been historically dependent on paper; whether it was writing down people’s time or pay, writing down PTO requests or printing off a schedule everyone can look at it. Thinking about those processes, it is easy to imaginable the problems that can (and do) arise with a paper-centric system. Paper is lost, paper is torn, and paper does not get along with liquid. Paper’s unreliability costs businesses money, time and security. Our system can run any of those processes seamlessly without any need of the white stuff. Software that is totally integrated is the big driver that makes paperless offices feasible. Software with the capability to reduce or eliminate mundane or repetitive data entry, have all info accessible via the cloud, and digitize all previously paper-driven activities can save you time and money.

In next week’s post, Chris Travis will go more in depth on the steps to successfully implementing a paperless office.

[1] Borzykowski, Bryan. “How One Company Went Completely Paperless…” The Globe and Mail. N.p., 14 June 2013. Web. 20 Dec. 2013.

[2] Cross, Scott. “Facts about Paper – The Paperless Project – Join the Grassroots Movement.”The Paperless Project. Paperless Movement, 17 Dec. 2012. Web. 16 Dec. 2013.

[3] Tysiac, Ken. “More Companies Reporting Profitability from Environmentally Friendly P.”More Companies Reporting Profitability from Environmentally Friendly Practices. CGMA Magazine, 13 Feb. 2013. Web. 16 Dec. 2013.