How much time does it take to create and file paperwork? Or better yet, how much space are papers taking up in your office?
If you’re like many businesses, you’re overwhelmed with your paperwork processes.
Take for example medical offices. They create mounds of paperwork on a daily basis, which includes HR documents, patient files, and more.
Patient files alone can be from 50 to 600 pages – sometimes more. Paper is an inefficient way to manage patient documents and it’s costly.
It causes an average of $120 in labor lost each time a document is misfiled. But it’s not just medical facilities wasting money.
In America, paper forms cost businesses an astounding $120 billion annually. And the average business creates 10,000 sheets of paper per year.
So if you’re still using paper-based documents, then you’re wasting time, money, and creating unnecessary pollution.
But what can you do to reduce the cost (or even eliminate it altogether)? Go paperless, of course.
When you automate paperwork, you can easily make this happen.
First, let’s take a look at why you should implement paperwork automation into your business.
Create a Cost-Effective System for Document Management
Money is on the minds of all business owners, whether it’s saving it or making it. With automated paperwork systems, you can reduce your office expenses tremendously.
For one, it can minimize how many man hours that go into the management of documents. For example, with digital documents, employees don’t have to make frequent trips to the copy room to print and copy paperwork.
This helps to boost productivity, which means more money flowing into your business. You can potentially save hundreds of hours monthly just by adopting paperwork automation.
For one business, it took approximately one hour per day for 8 employees to meet the requests and demands regarding paperwork.
Just think of all the cost-savings associated with paperwork – there’s the equipment maintenance, ink, paper, and other expenses that go into this outdated system.
Other ways automated paperwork can save your business money include:
- Easier disaster recovery and remote data access
- Document security and loss prevention
- Less time spent aggregating and retrieving paper
If you’re serious about adding to your bottom line and cutting costs, then paper automation is critical.
Speed Up Your Business Processes
Another major benefit associated with paperwork automation is the speed and efficiency it offers. There’s nothing slower than paperwork – from the time it takes to print and fill out to the time it takes to mail it to the recipient.
When you automate paperwork, you can avoid all of this. You’re able to scan documents (or create them on your computer) and email them to recipients.
They can then sign it online using a platform like eversign.
This can speed up multiple business processes, including hiring and onboarding, business acquisition, contract agreements, and so on.
Again, this helps with your productivity, since it cuts out the need to print, scan, and mail documents. It can also eliminate the data entry and filing tasks, which can also eat up a lot of your time.
With intelligent systems and tools, you can automate your document management and reduce hours spent on mundane office tasks (i.e. data entry).
Increase Your Revenue Quickly
By speeding up your business processes, you’re able to seal deals even faster. This means quicker access to revenue due to quicker sales processes.
On average, paperwork automation can decrease sales deals by 1 to 3 hours. Then with the extra time, you can submit more proposals and focus on more selling.
Your operations are faster, which makes it easier and faster to onboard contractors, partners, and employees. Finance and legal processes also become seamless, which means access to critical information and more satisfied customers.
The customer journey enhances exponentially, which leads to a happier customer base.
But what do you have to do to automate paperwork in your business?
Let’s take a look at the process so you can start implementing it into your organization.
Step One: Scanning All of Your Business Documents
So you’ve made the decision to transfer over to an automated paperwork system. Where do you begin?
The first step is to scan all of your business documents. Transforming them into digital documents will allow you to store everything in the cloud, physical storage drives, or on 3rd party sites for added security.
Once you do this, you can quickly find documents using any device with an internet connection. Now, the question is who is going to do all of the scanning?
There are two options you can use:
- Dedicated scanning technicians who will come in and sort and scan all of your paperwork
- Software designed to capture data from the documents scanned, creating maps and blueprints
Whatever you decide, be sure the individuals performing the scanning does it so that everything’s in a logical and sequential order. Attention to detail is crucial here.
Otherwise, you’ll have thousands of documents to go back, track down, and reorganize.
Step Two: Filing and Indexing for Seamless Integration
Again, organization is key during the scanning process. You don’t want to make matters worse for your business during this transition.
Now, you can either do the filing and indexing as you’re scanning the documents or afterward. The smarter option is to do the former.
You can assign each document you scan with keywords to help you find and organize them. Or you can choose to full-text index them.
What this does is index all of the text on each document, making every word searchable in your database. Each document you scan into your system can now be emailed to individuals, routed into workflows, or sent to folders in your document management system.
Retrieving documents for whatever reason is now easier than ever.
Step Three: Safely Discarding Your Paper Documents
Now, you want to handle the paper documents properly after digitizing them. There are some original documents you’ll have to keep on file due to legal reasons.
For example, contracts and legal documents that have wet signatures (hand-signed) should be kept on hand. You never know when you may need them to prove the legitimacy of an agreement.
But, for the most part, digital documents are as legal as the paper versions. These documents will need proper disposal to prevent security issues.
You can attempt to shred all of these documents on your own and then eliminate them at a secure facility that offers document elimination. Or you can use services that will shred and discard the documents for you.
Whatever you do, don’t throw documents in the trash. Anyone can look through your garbage and find critical records with confidential information.
Getting caught up in a data breach right when you’re trying to save money and boost revenue isn’t a good idea.
Before you close the chapter on your paperwork – be sure to have processes in place to make the new workflow seamless. This includes using a data management system that’s intuitive and flexible.
You’ll have to train your employees on how to use the management system so that things run smoothly. Ideally, you should have the workflows in place before you begin the paperwork automation process.
Finding a Reliable E-Signature Platform
One of the biggest benefits of automating paperwork is the ability to send and sign documents online. Automated systems allow you to email HR documents, contracts, tax documents, and other forms that require signatures.
When selecting a tool for digital signatures, it’s important to look for key features. For example, the most important is that the signatures created using the platform will be legally valid and complies with strict security and authentication requirements.
Also, if you’re doing business with clients and partners in countries in Europe, then it’s critical for the platform to also comply with those security and authentication requirements.
Convenience is what helps streamline business processes. With electronic signatures, you can make it easy to sign and send documents at the click of a button. But that’s only if you’re using a platform that allows you to upload your signature, sign using a mouse pad or touchscreen, or that creates a digital signature for you.
This will make signing documents easy on any device you’re using—mobile or desktop.
Also, don’t overlook in-person signing—your e-signature tool should allow this ability. There may come a time when you need a client or partner to sign an NDA before disclosing critical information in an in-person meeting.
Lastly, you want a tool that’s going to offer document security and audit trails. The ability to track documents and see which forms are pending signatures can make life easier.
Then once you’re done with documents, you should be able to set them to auto-expire or delete them manually from the system.
Is it Time to Automate Paperwork in Your Business?
If so, then hopefully, this guide clarifies what you should do next. It’s time to get organized, set up your workflows, and find a quality document management system.
Adopting automated systems will be the best move you’ve made for your business yet.
Already using other forms of business automation? Let us know in the comments how it’s helped your business!