Switching from paper to fully digital processes has been a dream for businesses around the world for decades. Yet even now, almost a quarter of the way through the 21st century, going paperless remains tantalizingly out of reach.
There are a few reasons why this is the case. One reason is that going fully paperless isn't realistic for most businesses. Instead of trying to eliminate paper from business processes altogether, organizations should look for ways to effectively reduce their reliance on paper by implementing technology and digital processes.
The focus on digital processes provides the best foundation for using digital transformation to save time and money in business operations.
Paper Isn’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon
While going paperless in the office is a widespread goal, the truth is that paper is here to stay. Offices in the U.S. use an astounding 12.1 trillion sheets of paper each year.
Paper is portable, inexpensive, and requires no electricity. Businesses focused on paper’s strengths while compensating for its weaknesses put themselves in the best position to earn and improve the value of document-oriented processes and transactions.
Certain legal and financial processes cannot work without paper. Regulation and security concerns continually back the argument for keeping these processes in place as they are.
Businesses ready to cut down on paper waste without sacrificing the potential value of paper-oriented processes are in a unique position. This is where reducing reliance on paper can generate an effective digital transformation.
How to Reduce Paper Usage in the Office
Going paperless in the office may not be feasible right now, but taking steps to cut down on paper waste and simplify processes with automated, digital workflows gets you one step closer to your fully paperless office.
There are many ways that organizations can reduce their reliance on paper and drastically cut down paper waste.Think Before You Print
There are lots of different ways to print out a document. Employees who need to print something out can select a lightweight, efficient monochrome laser printer for the job, or they can select a flagship full-color printing press designed for marketing materials.
Encouraging employees to think about resource wastage before printing is a critical step towards reducing unnecessary, consumable waste.
Encourage your employees to think about their printing decisions. There should be an argument behind every print decision – from deciding to print in color to deciding which printer to use.Hold Employees Accountable
Once you establish a company culture that places priority on print efficiency, you can implement solutions for holding employees accountable for their print decisions. This step is key to going paperless in the office whenever a more efficient solution exists.
Implementing software that tracks print usage on a per-user basis and delivers reports on those users’ activities can make it easy to hold employees accountable for their actions. Otherwise, it’s almost impossible to know who is printing what, and why.Develop a Print Policy
Your print policy is a written document that stipulates your company’s approach to printing. This will establish the expectations management has on employees when it comes to the use of print resources.
Your print policy also establishes procedures for communicating print-related messages to employees, and identifies the individuals responsible for maintaining and enforcing the policy.
This is your opportunity to set accountability concerns in writing, starting from the entry-level employee all the way to the C-Suite.Use Multi-function Devices to Streamline Workflows
Multi-function devices do more than simply combine printing, scanning, and copying into a single device. The latest and most advanced hardware on the market also offers useful applications for reducing print waste and going paperless in the office.
For example, you can use the scan-to-cloud-storage option found on most multi-function devices to capture incoming paper documents and then process them digitally from that point onward. This can significantly reduce the number of times individual employees have to print documents when processing them.Automate Processes
Digital transformation is complete once manual processes become fully automated digital ones. You may not be able to eliminate paper from your office workflow altogether, but you can automate your digital workflow to establish an optimal balance between automation and manual labor.
A clearheaded print policy backed up by the latest multi-function device capabilities lets you establish automated processes for a broad range of document-oriented tasks. These reduce paper wastage while improving efficiency and productivity throughout the entire office.
Learn More About Going Paperless in the Office
Technology will continue to develop new ways for improving process efficiency for document-related tasks.
If you invest in the right print infrastructure and content management system for your business, you can transform your most time-consuming manual processes into fast, efficient, automated processes with ease.
Is it time for your office to undergo digital transformation? ImageNet's Managed Print specialists are ready to help you. Get started today!