The benefits of taking your documents digital

Should we be ditching physical cabinets in favour of digital transaction management? In this piece, Helen Sutton presents the case.

Companies waste money in many ways, from £28 billion per year in unnecessary meetings to £122 billion in ineffective training. But one of the most significant (and least frequently recognised) ways in which businesses can unnecessarily lose cash is a failure to identify and update legacy processes. All too often, organisations continue to unquestioningly use the same old methods to get business done, without stopping to think – is there a quicker, easier, or cheaper way we could be dealing with X,Y or Z?

Bid your filing cabinet farewell

Re-evaluating your business’ processes can lead to savings in the most innocuous places. Take the filing cabinet for instance. Once considered an office staple, this mundane vessel for document storage has become an eyesore among the fake grass, ping-pong tables and bean bags of the modern workplace. Worse still, it is an expensive eyesore: a four-drawer filing cabinet holds an average of 11,000 documents, and costs a whopping £1,100 per year just to maintain.

What’s more, if any one of these 11,000 documents is lost, it can cost your business an average of £400. And given that organisations lose a physical document up to every 12 seconds, using a filing cabinet in this day and age is the equivalent of filing money under ‘B’. Based on this kind of evidence, it is clear that analogue filing systems need to be banished to the annals of history. The solution? Ditch physical cabinets in favour of digital transaction management.

A paperless approach pays off

The simplest and most cost-effective way to free your business from the burden of filing cabinets is to dispense with the paper that fills them. Cloud platforms have risen to prominence and become part of the mainstream over the last ten years, meaning it is no longer necessary to print and retain a physical copy of every document your business handles.

In addition to freeing up floor space and improving the aesthetic of your office, taking a paperless approach allows for limitless document storage and instant access to contracts at each stage of processing, which negates the issue of lost documents almost entirely. And the savings involved can be huge for businesses of all sizes – Microsoft realises the equivalent of £5.7 million in hard-cost savings each year by digitising its processes with eSignatures. Small and medium-sized firms can see similar savings as a percentage of their total costs; Centric Digital saves up to £38,000 annually by going paperless.

Cloud platforms also remove the risks associated with storing mission-critical information in a single physical location. For instance, more than 70 percent of today’s businesses would fail within three weeks if they suffered a catastrophic loss of paper-based records due to a disaster such as fire or flood. With documents safely tucked away in an external location, this need never be the case.

A paperless company is a productive company

The benefits of going paperless extend much further than saving space and reducing risk of loss. Implementing digital processes also has a very direct impact on productivity, and the practical ways in which your company can go about doing business. From sales agreements, invoicing, event registrations to every other kind of business document, digital methods such as eSignatures are clearing desks and removing paper shredders, pushing the envelope towards innovation rather than the post office.

Looking at sales in particular, going digital reduces the paperwork burden for sales reps and support staff. Waiting for paper documents to be signed and returned can slow business to a crawl. Worse, it gives customers the opportunity to change their minds and take their business elsewhere. Digitising sales processes speeds sales cycles and improves win rates. Transactions that took weeks when conducted manually can be reduced to days, even hours.

Further, automating proposals, contracts and other customer documents relieves reps from chasing down signatures. In turn, this frees up a significant proportion of their time, allowing them to focus on selling instead. At Projectplace, for example, going paperless now saves four hours per sales executive, per week.

There’s no more time (or paper) to waste

Given the clear advantages that paperless provides, both financial and otherwise, along with the ease of adoption, going paperless really is a no-brainer. But to get the additional benefit of a crucial edge over your competitors, it needs to be done now.

Business history is filled with examples of companies that paid a high price for not reacting to technological change fast enough. Ask yourself, what is the cost to your business if your competitors implement paperless processes before you do? If they are able to beat you to the punch every time in terms of closing a sales deal, it could cost you a fortune in missed opportunities. So stay ahead of the competition, and don’t put pen to paper – eSign your implementation instead!

Helen Sutton is vice president of enterprise for Northern Europe, DocuSign

Further reading on paperless

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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