These Are the Top 6 Obstacles to Going Paperless in the Office (And How to Overcome Them!)
Almost every clear-thinking knowledge worker wants a quicker way to access, file, share or otherwise use their records. Going paperless can accomplish all of these needs. The efficiencies and ability to share documents are great for your bottom line. And imagine no piles and files!
But before you jump in head-first, we want you to be aware of some potential obstacles that could trip up your transition from paper to an electronic document management system. Incorporate our solutions below, and you’ll be well on your way to going paperless at work.
1. Organizational Concerns
No one wants to be responsible for electronic document management for their organization – for doing the implementation, the day-to-day grind of capturing, indexing and quality control – and no one wants to own the budget responsibility.
Solution: Leadership and delegation with authority. A “C” level executive should provide leadership by assigning a cost center(s). An individual should be given the power to make decisions, to train, and to enforce usage of the electronic document management system. The return on investment for the system should also be identified, and a portion of that savings can be distributed to the Document Management group.
2. The IT Department
The IT department is tasked with the security of the organization, and they struggle with limited budgets and a limited amount of available labor. They will not be given more resources if an electronic document management system is adopted, and it often means more work for IT. As a result, the IT department can often slow a document management implementation.
Solution: Use the cloud to avoid straining IT. For these reasons, cloud-based document management solutions are preferable. Cloud-based software doesn't require a new server, software, or SQL licenses. Less IT resources are required for implementation and maintenance.
Will the system be easy to use? Will it integrate nicely with the ERP system and existing software packages? Can the system be changed in the future as your company’s needs change? These factors make a big difference to the success of your implementation and your office going paperless.
Solution: Train the trainers. It is critically important to train administrators for the electronic document management system. Administrators are taught how to create e-forms, workflows, new document management projects, new document types, retention schedules, and more, so that as your needs change (and they will, of course they will), your company will be able to adapt your document management system to it immediately.
Getting all of your employees to adopt and fully use document management software is a big obstacle. Almost every organization has one person who likes doing things the old way and says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This person is a big problem. If everyone is using the document management system for their work and is completely paperless, and one person isn't, the organization will be forced to work in both digital and paper. You will have to provide that person with paper copies of all digital records (or they’ll obtain them themselves). You will have to ask them where their records are because they won't have put them in the document management system in a timely manner. That person - that one person in your department - ends up doubling the amount of work that everyone must do.
(Unfortunately, in small businesses, that hold out is often the owner!)
The best way to obtain full adoption is to do lots of training. Train, train some more, then retrain. The goals should be for everyone to understand how to do their job using the electronic document management system, and more importantly to understand the benefits of going paperless for everyone in the company.
5. Process Holes
A process hole is a document type or process that isn't in the document management system. It may still operate in paper, or may be running in a second document management system. These process holes can take many shapes, but productivity leaks out through all of them as they require the worker to leave the document management system.
Examples of process holes:
- Invoices or receivables that need to be entered into a customer's accounting system web portal
- A common form that may be used where not everyone has access to a PC or tablet
- Time cards
- Mileage reimbursement sheets
Process holes can be all kinds of things, but any documents that are used regularly and aren't in the document management system will hinder the company’s ability to go paperless, and will prevent you from capturing the full return on investment.
Solution: Start with the most logical department. To avoid process holes, identify a department or process for which all functions can be converted to an electronic document management system.
Let’s use accounts payable as an example. Every incoming document needs to be scanned, quality controlled, and indexed. The number of internal forms should be minimized by creating electronic forms for purchase order applications, purchase orders, and other forms. Check runs and other printed goods are generated in parallel print runs, so that a paper check is printed to send to the customer and a copy is created and stored in the electronic document management system.
By allocating a storage location and a capture method for every document in a department, there will be no holes.
There is no such thing as a “best time” to transition to electronic document management. There is always something coming up: audits, tax season, ERP upgrades or conversions, office moves, big projects… None of these events change your company’s need for greater efficiency. Postponing the implementation of a new electronic document management system will only delay your company capturing the system’s potential return on the investment. (There is always a healthy return.) Plus, delays mean more new hires being trained in the old paper methods.
Solution: Just do it. The time is now (or at least soon). Make it a way of life for your business as soon as possible, so you can begin to see the benefits of going paperless.
Are you ready to begin going paperless at work? Contact us today for more help getting started! Or, download our free checklist on How to Go Paperless by clicking the button below.