Owen Balloch, Marketing Manager at Alaris, a Kodak Alaris business, discusses why document digitalisation can be of benefit to charities and shares a handy checklist that will help third sector organisations go paperless
For all charities, there’s a constant need to achieve more with less. That means resources have to be stretched to the max and efficiencies maximised - which in so many cases means embracing digitalisation.
The digital workplace comes in many forms, but one of the most easily achievable and easy to manage methods of streamlining workflows and boosting efficiency, is to cut physical paper consumption through digital workflows. And given these stats from the Paperless Project
, it’s easy to see the benefits:
- 45% of the paper printed in offices ends up trashed by the end of the day – this daily lifespan occurs for over a trillion sheets of paper per year, worldwide.
- In the US, companies spend more than $120 billion a year on printed forms, most of which outdate themselves within three months’ time.
- A typical employee spends 30-40% of their time looking for information locked in email and filing cabinets.
- The average document is copied 9 to 11 times and every 12 filing cabinets require an additional employee to maintain.
- Each four-drawer file cabinet holds an average of 10,000 to 12,000 documents and takes up to nine square feet of floor space - that’s a big expense when budgets are tight.
- Large organisations lose a document every 12 seconds.
- Paper in the average organisation grows by 22% a year.
Efficiency through digitalisation
The benefits of transitioning into the digital world are far-reaching and from Alaris’ vast experience of working with organisations in numerous sectors of all sizes these include:
Efficiency: Digital documents
are much easier to manage, store and retrieve than paper ones. Having documents available to access and share regardless of the location, improves team productivity and brings a better customer experience.
Unless you’re footing the bill for overnight delivery, paper documents will take at least a day to transfer from Point A to Point B. Even then there may be delays, misplacement, or complete loss. Once digitised, a document is available where it is needed, instantly. It’s also more secure.
Document back-up and recovery:
With the paperless office (or ‘paperlite’, which some organisations see as a more attainable approach), documents are stored electronically for simple and easy back-ups to a remote server or the cloud. This protects information should disaster strike. Paper documents lost in a fire or flood are irreplaceable.
Print, paper and storage are costly. Charities need to demonstrate that they are using as much of a donor’s contribution on its projects as possible - therefore reducing outlay on storage, archiving, ink, paper, printing (the list goes on) is a tangible saving worth making.
Going paperless - a checklist
With the above in mind, it makes sense to go paperless - but how do charities ensure they do it effectively? Alaris suggests doing the following:
- Assess paper-driven bottlenecks
Detail the most critical business processes, such as the ones that stop or ‘harm’ operations if they are held up. Review existing documentation or establish a quick step-by-step overview noting where paper is used in each process or task. Assess the number of paper business inputs required for the chosen processes in a typical day/week/month and the time involved in the manual handling of the paper document and finally identify where there is an opportunity to save time and money through digitalisation.
- Establish paperless processes where feasible
Identify tasks that rely on paper-based inputs and can be easily shifted to digital, such as offering an eForm to replace a paper form. Ensure that digital and conventional processes can be handled in parallel and are fully integrated to enable a smooth transition as volumes shift from paper to digital.
- Scanning and backfile conversion
Any documents that arrive in paper form should be scanned
and converted to electronic format as quickly as possible upon receipt. The chances are that paper documents and files coming from external sources will likely be a part of your operations for some time. The key is to digitise those files as soon as they arrive so they can be acted on immediately. There may also be value in converting existing archives to digital, but this requires high retrieval rates or the frequent integration into the processing of new business input, it’s key here to perform a business case assessment to confirm the business value.
- Update stakeholders
Once you have implemented the shift to digitalisation, you should inform all stakeholders about the changes and how it affects them. You may want to issue an email notice highlighting the advantages and also cover any concerns that may exist about security and privacy.
Finally, enjoy the benefits! The rewards in time and monetary savings will begin adding up quickly and the return in customer satisfaction and loyalty can be significant.