What’s Missing From Most Paperless Initiatives?

Paperless Office and BPM

A Phased Paperless Strategy for Success

The Paperless Office seems to be quite elusive for most organizations, and paper processes are still quite pervasive in most organizations.  Why is that?  It seems that predictions of paper’s demise have been around for a very long time.  There are many challenges, some of which are listed below:

  • The Tech Works, But It Is About People – people just love their paper.  For every project I have ever seen, there are some staunch holdouts.  The “Debbie Downers”.   Folks that just won’t give in, and this can be a serious challenge.
  • The “We are Paperless Tomorrow” Issue – the transition to a digital office needs to be slow and planned.  Large scale paperless initiatives always fail.  Small bites will provide the greatest opportunity for success.
  • Lack of Integration – Just buying 3 scanners at Office Depot, and plopping them on desks will not create a paperless environment.  Software is required to facilitate automation, and integrate with existing systems.
  • A Long Term, Phased Strategy – An office with minimal paper can only be achieved through some serious planning, and a phased approach.

So now that we have established some of the common challenges, lets talk about the 3 key phases of any paper eliminating initiative.

  1. Scan/Capture – preventing paper from flowing into your organization requires that you build a policy surrounding key entry points of this efficiency killer.  Most notably, the mail room, key employees and printers.  Examine your processes, and identify the point of origination, and shoot to automate those input points.  Implement scan and capture technologies to kill the paper before it can enter your organization.  Focus on eliminating printed paper that becomes part of any process, and put a keen eye on employee functions where paper is generated.
  2. Implement a BPM/Workflow Solution – We all know that paper processes are extremely inefficient.  What better time to focus on process improvement and monitoring than during the transition to digital.  Along with digitizing the routing, approvals and other pieces of your process, you can now leverage reporting and intelligence within Business Process Management (BPM) suites to improve both efficiency and productivity.  Want to see the difference between workfow and BPM?  See our article here: Workflow vs. Business Process Management
  3. Implement Digital Forms – Now it is time to take on any existing sources of paperwork that lie within your organization.  Creating digital forms, backed by a workflow/BPM solution, will now eliminate a huge source of inefficiency from your organization.

With this phased strategy, you can reduce your paper burden, and create a productive, efficient environment.  Thoughts?  Did I miss anything?