September 28, 2012 by Mitch Taube Categories: Document Management

Organizations with large volumes of transactions who have not implemented document scanning, document management and workflow automation need to address their “paper problem” to avoid both predictable problems (high costs, inefficiency, poor customer service) as well as the unpredictable…

The Unpredictable

Consider the recent report by the Veterans Administration inspector general that highlighted the very real physical danger of overloading a floor with over 37,000 case files—and that’s only the number of files that was stacked on top of already full file cabinets, crammed in so close together that they couldn’t be opened all the way. These case files were stored on the 6th floor, which is bowing because of a physical load that was significantly greater than the building’s design specifications. How would you like to work on the 5th floor?

The VA example is extreme but is evidence of a common problem, just writ large. Throughout both the private and public sector, managing paper is an ongoing challenge. Whether it’s a document that requires a signature, an incoming invoice that needs to be compared to the original purchase order and paid on time, or a sales order that needs immediate processing, organizations must effectively manage the paper that drives their processes. Both from a cost and risk perspective, storing all of your information in its original paper format represents an antiquated business process that is robbing your company of profit and a competitive edge.

Paper Costs in Daily Operations

Consider the following scenarios, and what it costs your organization:

  • Paper Damage: What will your organization do if your records are damaged by fire, water or smoke? Will you be able to recreate the history of your customers or constituents from other information sources? What will that history recreation cost you?
  • No or Limited Access: A file may be sitting on one person’s desk when someone else needs it. The information in that file may relate to an order, a patient’s medication or a supplier’s contract. Not having that information immediately available to the appropriate people slows your organization while people waste time looking for a specific document—or could lead to fines from auditors. How much time do you waste looking for information already in your company?
  • Lost Documents: How many times have you had to rifle through file cabinets to determine if you have paid an invoice already? How do you keep track of your credit and debit memos? What does it cost you in both wasted time and money in duplicate payments?
  • Printing & Copying Costs: When someone needs a copy of something, your staff must find it, copy it and then replace the file. How much money are you wasting on click charges, copiers, paper and toner by having to go through these processes?
  • Real Estate Costs: As calculated in an earlier blog post, a file cabinet takes up 17 square feet of office space that can be better used for revenue generating staff. How many file cabinets do you have?

The above scenarios relate to day-to-day business operations, and do not address the issues regarding theft, legal matters, structural building issues, or other unpredictable scenarios in which the paper is the problem.

Addressing the Paper Problem

Let the VA serve as a warning. A document management solution including backfile conversion services, electronic forms, document management, and workflow automation software enables you to effectively address paper issues before both predictable and unpredictable problems occur. Fortunately, the VA moved the paper files to other facilities to address their clear and present danger but are still mired in their paper problem without a document management solution.