In an increasingly digital world, many businesses—small and large—still rely on paper-based processes to get things done. Documents get routed for review, approvals and signatures, and eventually end up stored in folders stuffed into row after row of filing cabinets.
Organizations that cling to these traditional business processes may be missing out on the advantages of digital workflows: faster turnaround times, easier searchability and retrieval, revision control, and other benefits that save time and money. DATAMARK helps companies eliminate paper-based processes through on-site and off-site outsourced digital mailroom services.
To promote the best practice of eliminating inefficient paper processes, AIIM, the Association for Information Management, is observing World Paper Free Day on November 4. The annual event is meant to encourage businesses to go paper free for one day, with a goal of encouraging discussions and developing long-term strategies for shifting from paper to digital processes.
In conjunction with World Paper Free Day, AIIM, a global association of professionals involved with information management, will discuss findings from its Industry Watch research paper, “Paper Free: Are We There Yet?”, a review of the current state of paper-free initiatives in organizations across the world.
Some key findings from this year’s survey of the 193,000-plus AIIM community include:
- 25 percent of respondents say they run a clear/paper-free environment, up from 18 percent in 2015. However, 65 percent say they are still using signatures on paper.
- 46 percent of respondents say they have several paper-free processes and plan to do more, up from 43 percent in 2015. 14 percent are actively looking at every process for opportunities to go paper-free.
- 43 percent indicate paper usage is decreasing somewhat (35 percent) or rapidly (8 percent). 35 percent say paper usage is stable.
Many organizations have turned to DATAMARK for a digital mailroom to convert paper documents into digital images as soon as they enter the company workflow. Some key findings from the AIIM researchers regarding digital mailroom practices include:
- 14 percent have adopted a distributed, multichannel approach for capturing and distributing digital and paper content, up slightly from 2015.
- 29 percent use a hybrid approach of centralized and distributed capture of information from paper documents. 18 percent have a centralized capture system using multiple desktop scanners. Another 18 percent use a distributed capture system at branch offices.
- 41 percent say they are achieving better quality in downstream data capture and faster “postal box to in-box” times. 37 percent report the need for fewer mailroom operations staff and have confirmed faster turnaround times for customers.
Despite progress toward all-digital business environments, respondents say they still use paper in their organization for several reasons. These include preference for paper when handling, reading and note taking (47 percent). Also, management’s lack of interest in pursuing paper-free initiatives is holding some organizations back (47 percent).
“People instinctively like paper, and for many it still feels natural to print out a document to read, sign, edit or share,” said Bob Larrivee, AIIM’s chief analyst. “But things are gradually changing as people become more comfortable using technology for such tasks and realize that e-signatures are just as valid as physical ones. Enterprises are also seeing the benefit of digitizing content for customer service, collaboration and overall productivity, which will only help the move to paper-free.”
Companies looking to make the leap from outdated paper processes to digital workflows, including digital mailroom solutions, could benefit from a high-level consultation from DATAMARK’s Business Engineering team.
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