Small-scale paperless strategies can produce massive benefits

Small-scale paperless strategies can produce massive benefits

Managing paper documents can be a time-consuming and frustrating task. Failing to do so, meanwhile, can be extremely costly.

"Once again we find that an overwhelming number of data breaches are caused by employees' poor handling of paper and devices. If we put as much effort into our internal compliance program as we do in technical security we would be more effective at preventing data breaches," said Roy Snell, CEO of the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) and the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA).

A recent SCCE and HCCA study revealed that lost files and memory sticks accounted for 65 percent of all data breaches in 2012. But preventing these incidents is only one of many potential benefits of paperless document management.

In a recent blog post for Enterprise Irregulars, Sam Kemsley, independent analyst and systems architect, suggested that even small-scale paperless strategies can pay enormous dividends. Kemsley said she has worked with businesses of all sizes and nonprofits, and has contributed to both minor and full-scale document scanning projects.

As she noted in her post, even small businesses - in her case, a one-person company - can benefit from paperless document management, particularly when it comes to electronically controlling invoicing, payroll, income and tax processes.

Benefits of the electronic workflow
Google, along with several other companies, recently announced a paperless initiative for 2013, which advises companies everywhere to use paperless strategies to save the environment. While that is certainly a valuable and noble goal, decision-makers wouldn't adopt these strategies if they didn't provide significant internal benefits.

As Kemsley noted, there are many simple strategies that businesses of all sizes can employ. She highlighted some of the ones she uses, including:

- Anything that can be uploaded to the electronic workflow should be. For example, many banking or travel expenses are available electronically by request.

- For non-electronic files, Kemsley uses electronic document imaging to store, at the very least, the document in PDF form.

- She also takes advantage of automated backup services, which are typically stored off site.

Preventing data breaches and improving backup services are far from the only benefits of moving financial documents online. In a recent blog post for Transport Topics, Bob Helms, CEO of Pegasus TransTech, wrote that paperless document management reduces traditional paper costs, increases worker productivity and - because many files are easier to find - it can enhance customer service as well.