technology and business

This is a question that comes up frequently as I work with new clients. These clients are often overwhelmed with the seemingly impossible size and scope of tackling a digital transformation project for their organization.

The overall theme ties back to a book I read a few years ago… How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Here are a few concepts that have worked with my clients. Hopefully, something might be relevant to your organization and help you start your journey to become Paper-Less.

Identify a department that is paper heavy and start the conversation – Sounds simple right? I think most organizations have a department that is well known for being “paper pushers”. These departments are typically hot beds for inefficiency due to the fact that multiple team members must manually process the documents (even in a quasi digital process such as scanning to email for approvals…). I have found that a non-threatening conversation with the key stakeholders about how paper documents flow through the process can help identify potential bottlenecks and inefficiencies.

Start small with a quick win to build momentum and a “Buzz around the office” – I have found that a buzz can be started by even a very small but quick win that gets noticed and gets other departments talking about digitization. Change management in any organization and overall adoption to a digital transformation initiative needs buy-in from everyone involved or the project is destined to fail. A top down mandate can and usually works short term but nothing beats end users spreading how easy the process was so that others are not threatened or scared off by the initiative.

Leverage change – Many of my engagements have a very distinct call to action. Most often the initiative is tied to a significant change within the organization (most often an office relocation or renovation). Leveraging the fact that there are already changes in the business forthcoming can help jump start a digitization initiative – especially if it involves a downsizing, relocation, or renovation. The cost of the digitization can also pay for itself from the reduced real estate costs by reducing the footprint necessary to store files in file rooms, cabinets, Banker’s Boxes etc…

Utilize Software as a Service (SaaS) whenever possible to keep costs low and gain rapid ROI– It seems like just about all software is now available under a subscription or SaaS model. Cloud based capture, storage, search and retrieval will allow the organization to take advantage of the latest technology without acquiring costly upfront and on-going software licensing along with the IT infrastructure required to house the data. The SaaS model can have a virtually (pun intended) immediate ROI due to the fact that upfront investment is often not required.

  • Quickly identify the potential ROI. – Potential ROI can come in many forms. The quicker you are able to identify the potential ROI the quicker the project will take hold.
  • Real Estate and Opportunity Costs – The elimination of the paper files and subsequent square footage required to store these files can be a very straight forward ROI calculation. Equally as important are the opportunity costs that can be realized by converting storage space to revenue producing space.
  • Accessible documents = Usable data – Over 80% of business data is locked away in paper documents. Utilizing advanced capture can extract much more meaning from these documents. Often times an organizations most important customer and employee data reside in paper documents within filing cabinets, file rooms, and off-site storage facilities. Part of the value proposition in digitization is the ability to free up these digital assets so that the company can respond quicker to customer inquiries, make employees more productive, and take advantage of the latest Big Data Analytics for business intelligence.
  • Improve employee productivity – It has been documented that a typical employee spends approximately 30 minutes per day (Harmon.ie) searching for files. Over and above the time searching for the files there is an enormous amount of time scanning, copying, mailing, and refiling the paper files.
  • Long-term storage costs – While storage fees seem to be minor from a cost per cubic foot, the overall costs for long-term storage builds over time and becomes a very ugly line item in the operating plan. Other related costs include paying for air space when a box is pulled, file pulls with expediting charges, and destruction fees. Minimizing or even eliminating the records being stored at long term storage companies by digitization can reduce this area of spend dramatically.

There are obviously additional business cases to Go Paper-Less… Mitigating risk, compliance, disaster recovery/business continuity and many more that can help drive the initiative to Go Paper-Less.