Businesses have been discussing paper digitization and using digital documents for decades, yet paper still seems prominent in offices. While more and more businesses are transitioning to a paperless environment, some companies prefer to use paper for various reasons. However, many companies are moving from paper to digital documents as one of their first steps toward digital transformation.
Many industries including medical, legal, banking, and financial, could benefit from digital documents due to the amount of paper that gets shuffled around day-to-day. At the same time, different departments in different businesses have increased their digital documentation. A 2020 study showed that 62% of sales departments and 57% of marketing departments employ digital documentation tools. This number is expected to rise not only within these departments but also within the business as a whole.
Why Move to Digital Documents?
In addition to the cost of paper, which has recently been increasing, comes further expenses such as the cost of storage, copying, printing, disposing of, sorting, and organizing. These extra expenses can add up to 31 times more than what the cost of the paper was. This leads to the first benefit of digital documents:
Save Money - By investing in a digital documentation tool and transitioning to digital documents, you can reduce or eliminate the need for storing, copying, and disposing of paper. This often results in freeing up resources and employee time. Depending on what you choose to do and how you choose to store them, digital documents can be easier to find and significantly easier to share.
Improve Business Processes - Digital documents allow companies to expedite and improve critical business processes. Where once it may have taken days or even weeks for parties to sign a document, thanks to e-signature solutions like DrySign and digital documents, that process can be done within a matter of hours. Sharing files between co-workers or clients becomes faster and finding digital documents within a digital archive allows employees to search and find specific documents easily.
Save Physical Space - Switching from paper to digital documents frees up space in any office or building. Employees are handling around 10,000 pieces of paper annually. That amount of paper quickly adds up and quickly fills up space that could be better used for something else.
Reduce Carbon Footprint - Sustainability and environmentally friendly practices have been at the forefront of many companies' minds. Every year, around 1 billion trees worth of paper is thrown away in the U.S. alone. On top of that, 60% of consumers consider sustainability an important purchase criterion. Part of taking responsibility for sustainability initiatives and improving brand reputation could include paper digitization.
Improve Security - With the right security measures in place, digital documents can be more secure than physical documents. Unlike physical documents, digital documents can't be lost or misplaced. Also, particular documents may require a certain level of access to view or handle. A digital documentation tool would allow only authorized personnel access to sensitive documents.
Prevent Paper Documents from Moving - In some situations, businesses want or need to keep physical documents for their records. Digitizing these documents prevents the physical documents from being misplaced, being moved around, and being lost. Digital versions of these documents can easily be shared and emailed to customers or employees without handling and possibly losing that physical document.
Moving Toward Digital Documents
When considering moving to digital documents, businesses have two options to consider: digitizing their current documents and/or choosing to go paperless with current documents.
Digitizing a current backlog and uploading it to a digital archive will not only free up storage space, but will also improve business processes. As a first step, backfile scanning is a great way to start moving toward digital documents. A document archive is a great way to keep documents organized and easy to access. With a digital archive, companies can also choose who is allowed access to which documents.
As another option, businesses can choose to stop using paper presently and move to digital documents. This means that any document that comes into the business will be digitized including everything from signed contracts to invoices. By opting in to accept digital documents from the start, companies reduce their need for physical paper and ensure that they will not be gaining another backlog.
Security with Paper Digitization
While digital documents would certainly improve many aspects of business, there are some considerations to take into account. One of the first things companies need to consider with digital documentation is security. Because security breaches are a real threat, it’s important to ensure that any digital solution chosen has proper and high-security in place. Likewise, if companies are choosing to digitize a backlog, securely disposing of the current physical copies will also need to be taken into consideration.
As companies continue to propel forward with digital transformation, paper digitization is a logical step forward. Many companies choose to rely on solutions such as Exela’s Document Digitization for secure, efficient, and fast digitization and storage of their backlogs and paper documents. So consider what it would mean for your company to embrace paper digitization and be truly paperless.