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An Ultimate Guide to Paperless Project Management

A Ultimate Guide to Paperless Project Management-3
September 28, 2021
Project Management

Old Age

Technology is growing each day and there is no doubt about that. People are getting attached to new techniques that are more effective, less time-consuming, and profitable. In the early days before computer technology was so advanced, people used to manage all the work in a paper-based system. 

Before the invention of paperless work for example cloud services, paper-based work used to be prominent in any organization. In the year 1440 Johannes Gutenberg created the printing press, which was the first time to make copies with a moveable typeset. Gutenberg created a printing revolution that took communication around the world to the next level. 

In 1938, the printing press became portable, small, manageable in an effective way, and affordable when Chester Carlson invented the first printing machine called Xerox. The dot matrix printer and laser printer came to the market in the years 1968 and 1969 respectively. 

History

Computers started to be the primary requirement for companies in the 1980s. The technology grew in such a way that a company full of computers wasn’t surprising in the 1990s. In those days businesses used computers in so many ways like accounting work, word processing, printing documents to store them in folders. 

By the end of the 1990s, the world wide web (www) offered usable bandwidth at different locations and the internet became a key aspect of the workplace. Around this time in the year 1993, Adobe introduced a universal Portable Document Format well known as PDF. The invention of PDFs made things easier with the options of sharing easily regardless of the operating system or software. 

Cloud computing wasn’t a big term and many people were not even aware of what it is until 2006 when the Google CEO of that time used it in a conference. Also in the same year, Amazon launched web services which are now a prominent part of any company to store data and manage databases. Google launched Google Docs and Google sheets two internet-based programs that could be created, edited, updated, and shared online. 

In 2007 Netflix, in 2011 IBM and Apple launched cloud services, and in 2012 oracle cloud introduced Software as a Service (commonly known as SaaS) to the world. 

From there a new generation of working priorly in internet-based things came. For now, almost every company is going with a paperless approach over a paper-based one

How things have changed in such a small time, hasn’t it? 

Introduction

With each day passing, technology is growing significantly and digital is the way to go in communicating, collaborating with colleagues & clients. Now companies can convert their physical paper-based documents to electronic paperless copies using document imaging and document management systems available in the market. There are so many advantages that come with paperless plus it will show your company as a technology advanced whereas going with paper-based can be old-fashioned. 

How to go paperless? Here is a step-by-step guide. 

Getting started

Becoming a paperless organization in a small period isn’t easy. While going with the paperless approach many things need to be taken care of.

There are some processes to follow. Let’s look at those closely. 

Determine the Breakdown points

Painful processes are not valuable, it impedes workflows, requires more human input and engages employees in small works where the time could have been spent on other productivity work. Start looking at the areas where it really requires digitization. Then, identify the processes specifically that are relying on individual documents, such as employee reviews and invoice processing. 

Build a leadership team to inspire your employees 

Any guesses why companies don’t go paperless? The answer is quite surprising. 

It is because most companies face a lack of initiatives to go paperless. Some businesses are ready and willing to go paperless but no one is leading the way in providing necessary tools. You need to take initiative and lead in an exemplary way to become a more efficient office. By doing this employee experience may improve and productivity may touch new heights. 

Encouraging everyone to go paperless and setting up the goal for each department is the first objective while going with a paperless approach. 

Identify digitization opportunities

Pointing out the problems associated with paper-based work can fix the inefficiencies. You need to start focusing on how each document is handled by employees in the department. 

Later on, you need to identify how to identify digitization opportunities. 

  • The process will begin the moment you receive paper invoices and digital invoices via mail. 
  • Capturing information from these documents is a priority task
  • The next is routing. Check if it is routed manually or not.
  • Storing the documents. Documents will be stored on local drives. 
  • Retrieving these documents. Digital repository for easy retrieval.
  • Identify the key integration points that would help with the paperless approach.

The solution must be designed properly

The design is an essential part as end-users visualize more about the final product and how it benefits them. 

When you are searching for potential vendors, here are some points to follow. 

  • Don’t go too ‘thin’ –  Online services like Google Docs and DropBox are limited to storing and sharing files. Control lacks user-centric security, workflow automation, etc. 
  • Don’t go too ‘heavy’ – Similarly, be cautious & careful of vendors that focus on “enterprise” solutions. These are usually complex, expensive, and extremely time-consuming. 

There are many companies focused on small and mid-sized organizations with feature-rich technology built for real-world workers. A company like UBS, for example, provides unique paperless office solutions for various business areas such as employee management, performance management system, marketing, and sales, and yes, you guessed it, payroll management too. What’s more, these solutions are purely cloud-based. 

Measure the impact of processes

When you implement a system you can’t simply forget it. Always have an eye on your paperless processes as a constantly changing one and you might want to apply in other business areas of your organization as well. Documenting the entire process won’t help if it is not successfully implemented throughout your organization. Make sure you have implemented all the processes in your organization. 

After some 3-4 months of working in a paperless environment, you need to keep checking how everything is working. Following are some of the questions that can be very helpful. 

  • Did the company achieve the goal with the targeted time limit? 
  • Did the paperless approach prove helpful for every department? Has productivity improved? Are they happier in this paperless form? 
  • Did the working hours of employees be stored accurately? 

Advantages of Paperless work:

Operational costs decrease significantly

Opting for a paperless or a digital working environment reduces the operational costs associated with printing and xerox. There’s no longer a need to purchase filing cabinets or use valuable drawers, folders, room space to store paper or keep hard copies for future reference. It reduces the storage costs significantly. Purchasing a hard drive or disk drive to store data will be cheaper than renting an office space for physical paper documents. 

With a paperless approach or digital approach, you don’t need to create multiple copies of a file for distribution around the office. You can use digital document management systems like google docs, google sheets to store one copy in a central place for easy access. 

As you move from manual workflows to automated workflow, business processes will be streamlined and money can be saved. There will be more security and data can be recovered with an automated workflow. 

More time, More productivity

When the files & data are stored centrally on a cloud server, it’s easily accessible. Employees will never have to waste their time searching for those files and will be able to share information quickly across the organization. Easy access and the ability to share important files, documents, the information regularly, speed up processes and result in time gains in crucial processes such as employee onboarding/offboarding, invoicing, and collections. 

Well, if not cloud servers. The data can be stored digitally. For example, storing data in a hard disk drive or disk drive. This also results in higher productivity. As we all know, in a disk drive all the data is stored in a structured manner that makes it easy to search and access. 

The time can also be saved by integrating applications. For example, by introducing document management systems and customer relationship software, you may manage to avoid time-consuming tasks and ensure the smooth flow of information. 

Advanced Security & Compliance

Data security is a priority no matter how small or large an organization it is. If the data is not secured, you may lose business-critical information that will hamper the business continuity and client relationships. 

On cloud servers, you will get the maximum security possible for your organization. The data are highly protected with multiple layers of encryption, data masking, authorization, etc. When a user wants to access the data he/she will require a login id and password. There will be chances of data breaches for sure and if by chance it happens there is an option of backup & recovery. Backup & Recovery will restore all the lost data in less time which is never possible in paper-based work.

Digital systems provide an option to work in a safer and more secure environment. You are protected from security breaches due to document and encryption you can control who has access to specific files. 

Disadvantages of paper-based work:

Not enough space! 

There is always a need for space in paper-based works. For example, physical documents will require drawers, boxes, folders, and perhaps a room on the table or shelf. Paper-based work requires a separate room to store the previous records. The more the work grows, the more will be the storage room requirement. There is always a need for storage rooms and on the other hand, it’s not safe! 

Imagine someone breaks through the locked door and takes some important files? That will spell disaster for a company. 

The cost burden

According to networkworld, Companies tend to spend between 1 to 3% of their revenue on office printing. The cost of filing, shipping, and storing documents is very high. To win back employees’ time it will require special metrics & processes to be implemented. 

How can we forget about the cost associated with it?

Paper-based processes take more time to complete a task and it removes knowledge workers from more productive and high-value tasks. The time that employees spend on unproductive tasks might cost your company thousands of dollars. 

Security risks & Document search

There will be chances of data breaches and there is no doubt about it. The problem here is you can’t keep it safe for long. Paper is not a permanent storage type and it’s natural. Unless you have a digital backup, you remain vulnerable to such breaches. There are also chances of theft and damage due to natural disasters, such as floods, or fire in the house which can impact business severely

Finding a document can be the most tiring and frustrating aspect of paper-based work. Going through drawers and folders every day is tiring work, especially if the documents are not properly organized. In the end, locating a paper may take 2-3 hours or even days of your time, which should have been spent doing different products work. 

Slows down the workflow

The time that is wasted in handling paper-based works leads to a productivity loss. Staying on top of the daily tasks and workflows isn’t easy as they are swamped with information and thwarted by inefficient, paper-based business processes. 

Workers waste time capturing, storing, and routing documents to others due to manual processes which result in reducing operational efficiency, delays, and errors. 

In a paper-based work, sharing a document means sharing the same file for several people. An example can be distributing a small note in an office. The pen, paper, and a person are three things involved in this activity. Paperless organizations can send a link to the document for viewing on their desktop, laptop, or mobile devices which makes paperless work more reliable. 

Conclusion

So, got some ideas on paperless project management? What are your thoughts? Does paperless have an upper hand? Or would you choose to go with the old-fashioned paper-based approach? Things are very clear. If you are priorly focused on technology, paperless is the way to go else you can choose to go with the paper-based approach.

If you are getting a positive response from all the above-mentioned questions. That’s it. You are on a good track. Slowly but surely you will build a paperless organization which is a basic need in this technology-prior world.

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Alpesh Vaghasiya

Alpesh Vaghasiya

The founder & CEO of Ultimate Business System Pvt. Ltd. (UBS), I'm on a mission to help small and medium-sized companies to grow to the next level of accomplishments. With a distinctive knowledge of authentic strategies and team-leading skills, my mission has always been to grow businesses digitally. The core mission of UBS is Connecting people, Optimizing the process, Enhancing performance.

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