A survey carried out by YouGov recently found that the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises could be throwing away as much as £42.2m every single day in revenues looking for paper documents. 82% of financial services are still printing documents just to get a signature, and 31% of respondents also said that if they weren’t looking for documents, they would be spending time on business development.
This overreliance on paper – an outdated method of communication by any standard – could be costing the UK’s SMEs big. Switching to paperless solutions might not simply be a great option to protect the environment – it could end up protecting businesses in the long-term. Here are just a few ways digitising documents could end up supporting and protecting a small business:
In the world of business, time is money. Time spent searching for archived documents or files in storage is time that could have been used more productively for business development, as mentioned above. A study in Australia found that workers can spend as many as five hours per week looking for documents, with three and a half hours also dedicated to filing and organising – if we assume these stats are replicated in the UK, that’s a lot of valuable time that could be used to support and grow the business in other ways.
What’s more secure – a filing cabinet or a cloud server? A physical archive or a password-protected hard drive? The answer these days is almost always the digital solution. Physical files can be lost, stolen or damaged in fire or flood. Going paperless means these documents are protected more robustly, with excellent security solutions that are more reliable and permanent.
Many businesses have to adhere to very string compliance policies with regards to document management and storage. Digital document management systems can simplify this process, with every document having a unique number and creating its own audit trail that can be followed with ease. Paperless documents can also be duplicated and amended while still keeping the original, which is another bonus when it comes to audits and compliance.
Digital archives are far more accessible and user-friendly than physical ones. Sorting files by name, date or size can be accomplished with just a few clicks or taps, and managers can also password-protect confidential or restricted files, so that only authorised users can access them. Going paperless is also ideal when staff at different sites need to access the same documents – rather than the lengthy and expensive duplication of physical files, digital documents can be brought up from any location if they’re stored within the cloud, for total ease of use across multiple sites.