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Paperless vs Less Paper, where are you on this journey?

Paperless office has been a buzzword in this industry now for more than 40 years. (Phrase was coined by Frederick Wilfrid Lancaster in 1978.) Having worked for many 100’s of customers, during these decades, across nearly all sectors I have never seen a 100% paperless company. As well as the acceleration of remote working pushing the need to be less reliant on paper there has also been growing push from a sustainability aspect driving this area.

Gartner says that, Outside of North America, 50% of CEOs named sustainability as a top three reason to invest in products. This finding rises to 57% for CEOs of European organizations. The research targets a profile most likely to lead in sustainability (see below).

It is these products and solutions that will enable the Paper Less environment by improving the process of the document itself regardless of whether it is hard copy or digital.

We receive a number of questions on this topic so we will address some of them here.

I have made many of our paper intensive processes digital, but I know there is still paper used by some people. What can I do?

In many cases, this will certainly depend on the industry sector, for instance the legal sector still relies heavily on paper. But there is also the human factor, where having the ability to physically touch and handle a document is often preferred.

Use analytics to see who is doing it, why and when. This will help you to understand which parts of the process are still using paper and why

Gartner says that, By 2023, 60% of organizations will compose components from three or more analytics solutions to build decision-oriented applications infused with analytics which connect insights to actions.

Why would an MPS company help us reduce what we print?

Simple really, if we didn’t move to be being a solution and software led company 6 or 7 years ago, we would be going out of business. Xenith has been on our own Digital Transformation journey, the trend to reduce hard copy print was clear long before the pandemic.

More importantly we are perfectly placed to help you with your digital transformation as we have been working with your documents for years. And basically, documents contain the information that make your businesses tick! It doesn’t matter if you are being driven to this by cloud first strategies or the increase hybrid working, we are best placed to take you on this journey.

This is backed up by Gartner’s research which has stated that,

As demand for cloud services and digital transformation increases, organisations must evaluate how their print infrastructure adapts to support the shift to hybrid work. Businesses regard their managed print services (MPS) vendors as key partners to help them adjust to these transitions. Consequently, interest in the broadening array of services that MPS vendors offer is high as companies seek to ensure efficient collaboration between employees, regardless of their location, and increasingly look to reap the benefits of moving their print infrastructure into the cloud.

Is it really possible to go PaperLess?

I have seen much effort to make the experience of using a digital document to look and feel like a piece of paper, with the ability to add notes, make changes and be collaborative when working with documents, but this still far from widespread as companies or their employees or both, are slow to adopt this change.

This also largely depends on how you receive documents from your customers and suppliers and what you then do with them. In the past and today this can be impacted by various Regulations and Compliance which may mean you simply can’t get away from paper. But look at wet copy signatures as an example, as recently as a few years ago many organisations would not have been allowed to accept digital signatures in their place, but it is now commonplace.

As the world opens more and more to Cloud and digital working the capture of data from the document when its original format is hard copy is key to kick off your business processes.

There are clearly enormous financial savings to be achieved by minimising the use of paper, and digitising processes where paper is not essential. At the same time there some instances where there just isn’t the business case for the change.

Gartner identified criteria for sustainability to be in the CEO’s top 3 goals:

 $1.0 billion+ revenue
 HQ outside of North America
 Asset-intensive industry
 Company established before 1993

If you don’t meet this criteria, it doesn’t mean you should ignore sustainability. Therefore each process must be identified and examined to see how it can be improved and at what cost. Xenith conducts free assessments to help on this journey, you can request time here https://www.xenith.co.uk/contact-us

The expectation as we see it is that you can go ‘Paper Less’, but other than for tech-startups who do not have legacy processes to adapt, the Paperless option is a long way off.