Active vs Inactive Paper: how to reduce paperwork and document storage

Active vs Inactive Paper

18 December, 2015

Written by Louise

Look inside any business and you will see paper; lots of paper. Any attempts to streamline workflow and apply a task management and scheduling system must first address the paperwork. How much of it is essential? How much of it is needed on a regular basis and how much do you really need to keep.

There are two types of paperwork in an organization; Active and Inactive paper. Active paper is the documentation you need to refer to or action on a daily basis. Inactive is paperwork related to tasks that have been completed, which you need to keep, either for compliance reasons or for security.

Tackling both of these and migrating to a paperless system can pay dividends.

Active Paper

A paper based organisation is far from efficient. An average office worker uses around 10,000 sheets of paper per year. Most of these are wasted. Either someone forgets or loses the document, so prints out another copy, prints too many copies, or simply leaves it on the printer. The average document is printed 5 times.

Added to that is a reliability issue. The chances of a printed document being up to date, or identical to the version a colleague is working to is small.

However, we have a mental reliance on paper and the majority of people would say they prefer it. Even though most documents are now digitally created, there is a cultural comfort around using Word or Excel and then printing out the results. Teams need to be given strong reasons to cut down on the paper they use, far beyond taking away their bins.

Providing an alternative that is easier and better is key, if people are to embrace a new system. It needs to be both easy to access and simple to use.

Easier to input

An integrated e-form and workflow solution allows you to tackle information at the point that it enters the business, without lying around. Information moves into real time reporting. Word or excel documents tend to contain an awful lot of information, and often forms needs to be printed out to be completed, the data entered at a later date or the forms stored. A mobile or tablet eliminates the need for paper forms on location, and an intelligent form with skip logic means that only the essential information is entered with no ambiguity. Workflow software also helps ensure that procedure is correctly followed, with information being gathered appropriately.

Easier to share

The data entered feeds directly into the automated workflow and everybody has instant access to the information without the need for photocopying or emailing. This can either be pushed onto the next phase of the workflow, or pulled down by those who need it.

Easier to find

Organisations can spend a huge amount of resources managing and distributing documents. This doesn't even take into account the amount of hours spent searching for documents. A task management system will file documents intelligently against the task in question. No more misfiled spreadsheets or lost forms.

Inactive Paper

Document storage is a major issue, particularly when compliance issues are involved. Many companies feel that a physical copy of document is essential for safe storage, with over 90% of businesses doubling up on both hard copies and digital ones.

More Secure

Physical copies are subject to theft, fire, flood or any other manor of hazards, not to mention being accessible to anyone with the key to the filing cabinet. With data protection becoming an evermore pressing issue, authorization levels allow only the right people to see the information in question.

More efficient

An online system is a far safer and more efficient way to store your inactive paper. Smart document retrieval means that any file can be called up from any period in an instant, without the need to wade through boxes and drawers of archives.

More cost effective

Ther's no doubt about it - space is expensive these days, and it is completely unnecessary to take up valuable space with paper copies that can be more securely and efficiently stored on a cloud based system.

Go Paperless in 2016

If you want to make 2016 the year you finally tackle your company's mountain of paperwork, get in touch with the team at realtimeknowledge.com. Call us on 01926 676411 and go paperless or even paperlite!