Business environments are being suffocated in piles of documents, especially those where e-commerce has not yet “caught on”. Paperless business, on the other hand, is not just an ideal but creates substantial savings with every step and increases the productivity and satisfaction of employees. Don’t believe me? I challenge you to read the following passages.
Do you know how much toners, paper and printer maintenance cost? Of course you don't. This is the way most of us like it, otherwise we would feel guilty every time we had to print something. But companies use up to two percent of their turnover for printing and managing documents. Today, an average employee working in a strict office environment uses around 10,000 pieces of paper annually. This is handled easier by the annual balance than it is by the environment. Even when printing costs are relatively low or high, most costs occur in areas that people fail to see - labour costs.
Time is money, let’s not spend it irresponsibly
What really hurts the bosses and directors is the inefficient usage of working time. I've read a research paper that states that employees on average spend between 30 and 40 percent of their working time searching for data and information in their e-mail inbox, documents, various systems, hard drives and cabinets containing paper documents. Each employee, on average, spends 18 minutes searching for a relevant document or information. However, this does not have a bright side. Quite the reverse, it has an even darker one. The statistics of office environments are downright terrifying; they show that large companies lose a document every 12 seconds. We will talk about how to care for and protect documents somewhat later.
An investment with an immediate return
What solution do I recommend? Electronic. Documents belong in a document management system. This is not a horror story, but rather a life lesson for the office environment. Experts assess that in Slovenia, document management systems are only used in every fifth large company, and this share is significantly lower in medium-sized and small companies. Companies using document management systems are highly satisfied because they help them manage their employees’ time effectively, as well as reduce the number of mistakes made, not to mention that they significantly quicken the search for documents. Teamwork becomes an advantage rather than an obstacle. In addition to document flows in which people’s roles are defined, better document management systems can also establish a system of responsibilities. Modern document management systems do not just keep business documents like pro forma invoices, invoices, contracts, delivery notes, tallies, etc., but also other digital content, including e-mail, digital recordings of telephone conversations or meetings, video recordings, etc. The practicality and speed of using a document management system should convince practically every office worker (and their boss). This is ensured by increasingly intuitive user interfaces, making document management is really easy and comfortable.
Start with small steps
Modern document management systems are interesting amphibians, especially those that are modular. This is a major plus for companies because they can carry out their implementation in stages. This is what I advocate. Because this is much easier and manageable. We should always prioritise the digitalisation of our work in those areas where we can achieve the highest effect or savings.
Where to start? In the filing process. You should get rid of paper right at the entry into the system/company. The scanning and digitalisation of documents ensure that these will be available to employees in e-form, which means that searching for documents in dusty folders will be replaced by sophisticated insight into digital documents. Searching for the relevant information will no longer be measured in minutes, but in seconds. All documents are also stored safely and only employees with the appropriate rights may access them. Digitalised documents can be classified on entry into the system and automatically sent forward to the addressees, as well as being ready for easier transfer into the archives.
The preparation, review and signing of contracts will go from annoying to enjoyable. Employees will be able to prepare contracts using the pre-set templates. By the way, all contracts are 98% the same as each other, only certain key data and numbers are changed. What’s more, contracts will not have to be printed until their final version is drafted (or maybe not even then) and submitted for review and signing in their physical forms. The said tasks will be replaced by digital signature certificates and the electronic submission of documents. When many people review documents, the traceability of changes is often lost, but not in a document management system. Such a system knows exactly how long a certain document needs to be kept and employees are always up to date on the validity of contracts and when they need to be renewed. You can link contracts with documents that arrive at the filing office (memos, annexes) and received invoices, so that you have all the documents related to the contract linked together, making it easier to list them. What could possibly be better?
The liquidation of invoices
Working with e-invoices? No? You are literally throwing money out the window. Do you know what a paper invoice costs you? A couple of euros, maybe around ten! Impossible? Not at all. It is true that printing on paper costs a couple of cents, an envelope EUR 0.05, the cheapest postage stamp EUR 0.36, etc. This isn’t even half a euro, so why am I exaggerating? Because practically nobody thinks about the hidden costs, such as the costs of purchasing all of the above, the business process, the process of preparing documents for printing, placing invoices in envelopes, sending them to the post office, copying for the archives and the archive itself (long-term storage). Yes, we are talking about euros for even the simplest of invoices. Practice shows that e-invoices are 90 percent cheaper than paper invoices, especially due to the more effective manipulation. Massive issuing of invoices via electronic means will allow you to save up for a better or even a new company car! Try it yourself if you don’t believe me. I will accept praise. ;-)
Local or in the cloud? However you wish.
A company can implement a document management system in their own IT environment and link it to other systems and solutions, or it can use it as a service from a computer cloud. In both cases, it is a solution that is compliant with the law and is updated regularly because the client has a maintenance contract in place with the contractor where, in addition to regular updates, the client is also eligible for support via phone and can also request the help from specialised advisors. In essence, a document management system will soon become a must in business environments. In May next year, an updated European directive on the storage and management of the data of European citizens (GDPR) will enter into force, which will require companies to manage the data of their clients and partners with due diligence. Such management will be much easier in digital form.