The Cost of Paper Processes in the Workplace

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Paperwork costs organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. In the U.S., companies spend more than $120 billion a year on printed forms, most of which outdate themselves within three months’ time, according to The Paperless Project, a grassroots coalition of companies focused on transforming the way people work with content.

On an enterprise level, fifteen percent (15%) of an organization’s revenue is spent creating, managing, and distributing documents. For an organization with $1 million in annual revenue, that’s $150,000. This post isn’t questioning the value of creating documents. However, once organizations spend that money creating and managing documents, they lose it (plus some) with poor productivity and waste.

3 Ways Companies Lose Money with Documents

Sixty percent (60%) of an employee’s time is spent working with documents. It’s estimated that the average employee comes into contact with approximately 10,000 sheets of paper each year. That’s fathomable. The U.S. Department of Labor website lists 32 downloadable forms for new hires. The list doesn’t even include company-specific documents like the employee handbook, technology policies, etc. So, employees deal with a lot of paper. The question becomes what happens to it? And that’s where organizations are losing money:

  • Forty-five percent (45%) of the paper generated ends up trashed by the end of the workday.
  • Employees spend 30-40 percent of their time looking for lost or misplaced paper. The average cost of each misfiled document is $125, and some organizations lose a document every 12 seconds.
  • Documents are recopied an average of ten times and filed, costing organizations more in labor (to file all those extra copies) and square footage (for filing cabinets).

These statistics don’t even include the business impact of losing important documentation, such as client files or sensitive data, in a natural disaster. No company wants to throw away money. Organizations want to spend their resources where they know they will get a return-on-investment (ROI) and grow the business.

Less Paper Improves the Business

The good news is that workflow automation software can help organizations effectively and efficiently. According to a study from market research firm AIIM, nearly 60 percent of organizations that go paperless achieve a payback in less than a year. Eighty-four percent (84%) in less than 18 months.

But there’s a greater value than expense reduction. The time previously spent filing, shredding, and trying to locate documents can be spent selling the company’s products and services and delivering excellent customer service. Less paper—and less time spent managing paper—allows employees to focus on growing the top line of the business.

There’s one other benefit that organizations need to consider. Pew Research Center says that roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn of retirement age every day for the next decade. While all of those individuals aren’t leaving the workforce immediately, there is a point in time when they will leave. Organizations need to consider their knowledge management practices. If there are no documented processes or procedures that are documented in a paper fashion that isn’t easily accessible, businesses will be at a real disadvantage.

Employees spend a lot of time creating, managing and working with paper. Unfortunately, paper processes don’t always allow them to do it well, and it hurts the bottom line. Organizations need to consider all of the things they want to spend their resources on. Developing and implementing a digital strategy to effectively and efficiently manage paper not only controls expenses but helps drive business growth.