Pursuit of the Paperless Office

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Using the effective power of the Internet and current technology in your office can help you work using fewer resources. You can also serve more clients while increasing the quality of your work you do for those clients. Its an ideal situation but reachable with planning.

The cost of developing and warehousing electronic documents is much less than their paper equals. Access is faster to the benefit of you or your customers. The cost savings on consumables such as paper, printing, toner and ink can add up. The reduction in postage or faxing can be seen over time. A paperless firm can be more efficient, more productive, and respond faster to internal or external needs or requests. Electronic document management will surely make a positive impact on your office.

Making your office or firm paperless depends on your application of the concept. Some processes may be made paperless without significant effort while others may need some engineering but starting is the first important step.

Payroll is probably the first process that be made paperless. Submission of employee hours can be totally electronic. This information can imported into most payroll software and payroll calculated easily. While there may be employees who insist on paper paychecks, automatic direct deposit allows employees prompt access to their funds with their earnings statements available electronically as well. Payroll taxes can be filed electronically also. Tax preparation is a follow-on process to payroll processing.

Electronic paperless access can be seen in other aspects of our lives. Online access to your funds is an important factor in banking today. You can apply for mortgages online although most of the follow-up and closing documents are not electronic yet. Electronic stock trading accounts are commonplace while trade confirmations are still received on paper. Statements can be sent in the mail or received electronically. You can renew your vehicle registration or apply for copies of birth certificates and other information online in some states with the fees collected using secure protocol. In some companies, you can submit travel or expense reports electronically. We seem to be catching on this paperless thing very well.

Conversely, it seems that paper will be with us for years to come. While electronic document capture software as a market reached $1 billion in 2005 according to Harvey Spenser Associates (HSA), paper companies are easily topping this cap. Preprinted forms by RR Donnelly bring in over $1 billion a year and companies such as Boise Cascade's Paper Solutions brought in $1.8 billion in 2004 alone according to TechWeb.

Image capture is a blip on the radarscope but a small one. “Solutions for paper have been last on the list for many companies because they've been concentrating on developing electronic processes,” says HSA Principal Harvey Spenser. “What's happening now is that remaining paper-based processes are starting to stick out as laggards, and most companies find they can't convert everything to electronic processes.”

Image capture technology is slowly growing but still trails older paper technology. In the meantime, progress can be found in niches where companies can use capture technology to provide solutions especially in such paper-intensive areas as mortgage origination. This will surely help consumers and companies relying on numerous forms to collect and organize information alike.

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