By Dan Smith
Dan Smith, head of integrated marketing for Xerox in the Middle East and Africa region, explains how SMEs can benefit from having less paper in the office
For SMEs, document management is critical for business productivity and success. According to industry reports, document-related activities consume up to 15 percent of a company’s annual revenue. This is a substantial percentage for small and medium sized businesses. If compromised, this can result in mismanagement of company information that can lead to:
• Drain on productivity
• Costly workflow interruptions
• Loss of irreplaceable intellectual property
• Significant liability resulting in expensive lawsuits
For SMEs proper management of print, digital documents and associated processes are more than a back-office cost, greener office environment and efficiency issue. They need to factor in the impact of poor document management and paper consumption on the overall output of the organisation.
HOW TO ACHIEVE A LESS PAPER OFFICE ENVIRONMENT
Although paperless office became a buzzword in the 80s it is still early days. However, more and more service providers are becoming aware that behind every business process there are a series of transactions that are paper-based which can be difficult to track, action and maintain. Today, converting to a paperless and digitised environment is no longer optional for small and medium sized businesses; it’s critical.
SMEs can start their transformation into a less paper office environment by following these steps:
Reduce paper usage and costs by deploying Managed Print Services (MPS)
A factor that is often overlooked and sometimes undermined is the role of MPS in improving work productivity. MPS turns paper-based processes (like routing and approvals) into automated, digital ones, thereby saving the time and energy of the employees. A good MPS provider is capable of initiating an approach that can help their customers realise significant cost efficiencies while also increasing their client’s overall satisfaction. Service providers of high calibre offer a detailed, up-front assessment to analyse the SMEs’ current printing infrastructure and later aid in optimising their total print output environment. They offer a roadmap to reduce the number and types of printing devices and supplies while meeting their business needs. This proactivity helps in recognising and solving potential printing problems and replenishes supplies before employees are affected.
Focus on cost and access control to track paper consumption
Investing in a solid cost control solution can help SMEs track usage and set limits to paper consumption. This will help organisations benefit from lower printing costs and a higher return on investment for the in house printers and multifunction printers (MFPs).
Document security management is equally important as keeping a check on the unnecessary usage of printed paper. The critical information held within these documents is the backbone of an organisation. Industry leaders have created document security solutions that can help SMEs keep this information where it belongs – inside the organisation. By requiring users to log in to your MFPs, these solutions ensure that only authorised users are accessing the information. They can also connect the log-in procedure to existing building access or student ID cards, making the SME’s document security solutions easy to integrate with their existing resources.
Cost control and document security solutions can thus work together to eliminate wasteful printing, setting job limits, enabling increased security while making your office more green by eliminating stacks of unclaimed documents from the organisations’ office printers and MFPs.
Monitor the paper/digital divide using document management and workflow solutions
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 4 million tons of copy paper is used annually, with employees generating approximately 2 pounds each per day. The EPA also states that an employee uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year. This has made it important to monitor and cut the paper usage and digitise information as early as possible. Industry trendsetters offer solutions that can help enterprises achieve greater office automation as well as to move to a more digital, less paper work environment. They have realised that increased automation of work processes isn’t just about using less paper –- it’s about working smarter, improving productivity, connecting with clients faster and using data to bolster business. Some of these tools can read, annotate, store and share documents of any type while synchronising work automatically across corporate and personal devices. These tools, while providing security, can also give enterprises insight on how to better manage their migration from paper-based working environment to digital.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For many industry leaders the main goal is to change the culture of paper technology in the workplace. At Xerox Research Centres, they are constantly using ethnography - which involves studying and developing understanding of the ways people work and interact with technology. This enables the researchers to think creatively about the ways people use it. These studies aim to achieve a better alignment of technology with its users thus paving way for a less paper office environment that will be fruitful for small and medium sized businesses and bigger enterprises.
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