The following are five tips to help your clients’ offices use less paper:
Find the paper: If your client has areas of its business where it is dealing with hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of paper documents per month, that’s probably a good place to start encouraging your client to utilize less paper. Across industries, human resources and accounts payable departments are typically an ideal location where paper handling/filing can be reduced. Vertical markets like healthcare, financial services, government, and insurance have industry-specific and paper-intensive processes which can be consolidated keeping in mind the legal processes around those verticals.
Study their workflows: As the old saying goes, if you automate a bad process, all you’re doing is ensuring that bad things happen faster. Technologies like e-forms, automated data capture, and workflow can really help a user reap the benefits of going paperless. But only by understanding how documents and information flow through your customers’ processes can you understand how to utilize the technology available to make these processes more efficient.
Eliminate what you can; expedite the rest: In other words, implement electronic forms where your customer has enough control to do so. HR is a good spot for e-forms, because most HR forms can be generated and completed internally. Making a vendor submit an electronic invoice can be a little harder unless you create an incentive like earlier payments. Still, your customers will likely continue to receive a certain amount of paper invoices, and processing them can be made more efficient through imaging. Imaging is a great bridge to electronic processes.
Consider the cloud: Implement imaging and e-forms in order to replace a paper process can create a burden on IT, as it basically creates a new application that IT has to manage. Many vendors now make their document management and workflow solutions available as hosted applications. This not only reduces the support that IT needs to provide, but it also provides users with a safety net—they know that if the application doesn’t work out, they can always cancel their subscription. But if configured correctly, the ROI should be so great, they will continue using the software, creating a steady annuity stream for the reseller.
Integrate with existing applications: One of the biggest reasons that document imaging implementations fail is that they create extra work for already overburdened end users. Many users will end-run a system designed to make a process more efficient and return to the paper process they are used to. The transition can be simplified by tightly integrating whatever type of paperless technology you are implementing with whatever line of business application your clients are used to working in every day. Adding a new tab or button to kick off an electronic document process is much simpler than asking a user to learn a whole new interface.
The bottom line is that utilizing less paper can certainly make your customers’ offices more efficient. Just remember—look for the paper, understand the workflow, eliminate and expedite, consider the cloud, and integrate. Following these five steps should create a strong ROI and make your clients wonder why they waited so long to go with less paper.