Many of us have gotten comfortable eliminating paper from our personal lives. We keep a digital calendar, have replaced the old address book with a contacts list on our smart phone, even have PDF copies of our bank statements filed away on our laptops instead of piling up in a drawer.
Yet while individuals have embraced the concept of going paperless, businesses have been slower to make the transition to a digital filing cabinet. Many are convinced that enterprise document management software is too difficult and expensive to implement while others harbor lingering concerns about the security of electronic documents compared with their paper-based counterparts.
Despite all the talk about the paperless office and the potential of enterprise document management software, the average office worker still comes into contact with 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Anoto, a maker of digital pen and paper technology, found smaller businesses—those ranging anywhere from 50 to 200-plus employees—were more likely to have a continued reliance on paper, according to a survey it conducted of 200 companies. However, survey participants expressed the desire to transition to a digital archive, explaining that data was easier to work with in digital form (55%) and was more cost effective than maintaining a paper-based archive (45%).
Enterprise document management platforms have come a long way in helping small and large companies achieve their paperless office goals. Many ECM platforms boast modern-day interfaces that look and feel like standard Microsoft productivity tools while allowing users to organize files the way they want to, without indexing. That means it’s easier than ever for users to interact with the enterprise document management system, bringing the concept of a digital filing cabinet and paperless office much closer to reality.
With that in mind, let’s consider the primary benefits to moving an organization’s files online:
Depending on the size of the company and the amount of paperwork an industry requires, there could be rooms, maybe even floors, devoted to physical filing cabinets used for paper-based document storage. That costly real estate could be redeployed for other purposes, like to accommodate additional workers or extra meeting spaces. There are also potential savings related to reducing the need for paper and storage space, not to mention the green implications associated with going digital.
You can find documents when you need them. Trying to locate a specific document in sea of paper can be a little like trying to find a needle in a haystack, even with a robust filing or indexing system. Not so with a digital filing cabinet. Enterprise content management systems have fast and flexible search functions that let users retrieve files using any word or phrase in the document. A digital filing cabinet also reduces the likelihood that documents are misplaced or even stolen.
Despite attention paid to high-profile digital security breaches, it’s more likely that someone can gain unauthorized access to paper files in a physical filing cabinet. Enterprise content management systems offer multiple levels of protection, assigning permissions to specific groups of users or individuals based on role so it’s easily to control who has access to what data. Most systems also have sophisticated encryption capabilities for additional security along with audit functions that provide visibility into who’s accessing or modifying data—a scenario that isn’t easily replicated with physical filing systems.
Not only can multiple users access a digital document at the same time, which can’t be said with paper-based files, but most enterprise content management systems include workflow capabilities which simplify collaboration. With workflow, organizations can automate the collaborative tasks they do on a daily basis with partners, vendors, or other departments, boosting overall productivity.
In today’s increasingly mobile world, employees are working on a job site, from their home, or in a hotel room, and they shouldn’t be stymied from getting their job done just because they can’t get their hands on a physical document. Many enterprise content management systems offer mobile capabilities that let users work from anywhere and have access to what they need.
So with digital files now the centerpiece of our personal business, why not make the leap from a professional standpoint. A digital filing cabinet doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive, and with the right system, organizations can soon be on the path to unparalleled productivity.
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