Okay, before you say that the title’s a bit extreme, understand that we’re being perfectly frank. Your business can be ruined by remaining paper-based.
Doubt it? Here’s a scenario …
Imagine that your business is on the verge of bankruptcy, but things are looking up. Orders have been flowing in lately. There’s a good-sized stack of them sitting on your desk, just enough to start clearing inventory out of your warehouse, recoup some costs, and get things moving in the right direction.
As you make your morning drive into the business district, you notice a lot of sirens in the area, and through the trees, a column of black smoke. The closer you get to your offices, the more traffic and chaos you encounter. It doesn’t take long until you realize that the column of black smoke sits right in your way, and with that realization, a sick feeling swells up in the pit of your stomach. Two minutes later, you’re facing a one-in-a-million catastrophe: your office is completely engulfed in flames, and with it, the only record of the orders, not to mention thousands of dollars in other outstanding invoices, the business deeds, titles, and licenses … in short, all of your records reduced to ashes.
We can even change the scenario. What if you’re an accountant who stores all of your clients’ records on-site in paper format? Or a financial planner who manages investments for hundreds of clients but who only keeps paper records of accounts and holdings? What if you’re a lawyer whose life-blood is in the documents you produce and store for your clients?
There are two truths we need to not just grasp, but embrace:
First, that documents are the life-blood of most businesses. And second, that offices get destroyed … often. From broken water pipes and building fires to floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and even mudslides, offices and the business documents they hold get destroyed. And probably more often than we’d like to think. The real question, therefore, is whether you can really afford the risks associated with not going paperless.
If that’s not incentive enough to bite the bullet and make the switch, here are a few more advantages of going paperless:
No More Huge Stacks of Paper in Your Office
Receipts, bills, invoices, documents, contracts, and forms, amassed over the years, can soon fill up all of your storage space. The average office has entire areas dedicated to storing stacks of boxes and piles of papers, not to mention everything cluttering our desks. There is no need for this.
Here’s something you may not have thought of: if you eliminate all the paper in your office right now, you could discover that you don’t need as much space as you thought. And when office space is leased by the square foot, this could potentially translate into either lower monthly lease payments or, if you own your space, you could use that extra area to expand your operations or sub-lease it to another business.
Documents are Stored on Multiple Secure Servers Across the World
Some companies are hesitant to make the transition to a paperless office because of their concern about the possible loss of documents from hardware or drive failure. And let’s be honest: if a flood can destroy a box of documents, it can destroy a delicate disk drive.
While these concerns have a basis, they neglect one of the strongest selling-points of a paperless office: digital redundancy. The ability to back up all of our data to multiple remote servers is one of the great gifts of the Internet. This ability to give our critical business documents multiple layers of protection safeguards them from almost any scenario short of a total global catastrophe.
In addition to protection, off-site digital storage lends a second benefit: easy access. Any document in your repository is just a few mouse clicks or screen taps away. No more worrying about leaving that key proposal sitting on your desk 50 miles away.
We all hate hunting through stacks and stacks of paper for that misplaced document. Once you go paperless, that becomes a thing of the past. Besides clean and well-organized storage structures for your documents, paperless office software allows you to search through the body of your documents, much like a web search, helping you pull needles out of haystacks and ensuring that you’ll never lose important paperwork again.
While the cost of paper varies according to the size of your business, it does often represent a massive chunk of the budget. This is especially true if you use branded documents and letterheads to provide a more professional front for your company. Back in 2002, for example, document expenditures for Fortune 1,000 companies exceeded $217 BILLION. A single office employee alone is estimated to use 10,000 pieces of paper per year on average, or $80 per annum. With a mere one hundred employees, you find yourself with an expenditure of $8,000 annually, and at the ten-thousand employee mark you’ll be spending nearly one million dollars per year. Add to that the cost of printers, toner, and expensive metal filing cabinets.
Going to a paperless solution means you can shave your paper-based costs down to just a fraction of what they once were, not to mention the harder-to-assess savings from improved efficiency.
Ultimately, going paperless with software to scan and organize documents is the ideal way to save space, time, and money. But maybe its most important benefit doesn’t stem from any those. Maybe its most important benefit comes from the protection it gives to your key asset: your documents. A paperless business can bounce back from a disaster and not just survive, but hardly miss a beat, while its paper-based competitor, having lost all of its vital records, flounders and fails.