By Steve Cox, product director at IRIS Software
In today’s digital age, we know the benefits of running a paperless office, from cutting costs to boosting productivity levels in the workplace.
While we understand companies can quickly reap the rewards of removing paper from their daily activity, alarmingly, 39 per cent of businessesare still claiming their business is overspending because of unnecessary printing by employees. For decades, professionals have found themselves drowning in stacks of documents. Even in 2010, the average office worker was using 10,000 sheets of paper each year, of which 6,800 were wasted.
Today, we are very aware paper is expensive, in terms of purchasing, storage costs as well as time wasted printing and searching for documents. Shockingly though, recent research we conducted shows businesses and accountancy firms throughout the UK still have no desire to run paperless offices by 2020. On average almost a third of companies in the UK aren’t planning on removing paper from their office in the next four years and worryingly, this number skyrockets when looking at accountancy firms, with 60 per cent stating not planning on being paperless in the same time.
While paper has traditionally played a key role in the accountancy industry in particular, due to documents being sent to clients by post, accountants and their clients must make a change in order to transform their businesses.
Businesses realise how significant the efficiency gains are of a paperless office, so what areas should the 21st century practice address in order to embrace a paperless office?
Be more productive
In the fast-paced business work we live in, it’s scary to think so many businesses rely on paper copies for crucial documentation and accountants still receive stacks of physical receipts from their clients. This undoubtedly increases the likelihood of human error – something which can be detrimental to keeping customers and clients satisfied.
Document sharing and communication can both be covered digitally and is vastly more efficient than using paper in the long term. Businesses can approve financial documentation online at the click of a button and important information can be shared instantly, rather than formal letters being sent in the post. Documentation can also be sourced and accessed easily as opposed to trawling through stacks of paperwork.
Reduce wasted hours
Startlingly, 57 per cent of office workers spend an hour a day looking for missing documents, with 20 per cent having to recreate documents they couldn’t find. By going paperless, tasks which traditionally took days, now take minutes.
Tasks could be largely automated using cloud technology, saving time for both the accountant and its clients. This is the perfect example of how a seemingly marginal gain can have a vast impact on productivity – after all, time savings add up across all clients, meaning accountants can focus on adding true value to their service.
In the realm of big business, increasing numbers of companies are following the marginal gains approach, which states improving 30 factors by one per cent gives the same result as improving one factor by 30 per cent.
By going paperless, companies are given more time to add value to the businesses. Accountants in particular can do so by becoming mentors to support their clients’ objectives, rather than focusing solely on traditional accountancy and its time-consuming tasks, such as printing, filing and sourcing clients’ files. With the right minor amendments, businesses can gain a significant advantage over its competitors – this is the power of marginal gains.
Improve accessibility and security
Businesses which run a paperless office are reassured they are implementing a higher security option. Digitalised companies using cloud technology can back-up important, personal data but accountants still handling physical receipts and documents are always at risk of workplace disasters, such as a fire or flood. Paperless is clearly the safer option for any business which is handling vital documents on a daily basis.
Time to add value
A digital office ultimately transforms the workplace productivity levels and enables employees to spend their time wisely, adding value to the business. By focussing on digital alternatives, professionals can eliminate wasted hours previously spent on laborious administration tasks, while reassured they are keeping up to date with the latest technology trends.
For any business or accountancy firm wishing to grow and provide its clients with the best possible services – it is time to add value and go paperless.