Most businesses today are investigating opportunities for going paperless—or at least transitioning as much as possible from paper to digital workflows. The reasons are simple: to reduce costs and improve business operations. Time is money, and paper has become a major drain on worker productivity. How much time do knowledge workers spend sifting through paperwork? The answer may surprise you.
According to a study from market research firm Gartner, the average office worker spends 20% of their time simply searching for information.
For most organizations, this represents important man-hours that could have been spent on other, more critical business activities. Even so, there are traps that should be considered when embarking on a paperless strategy. The most obvious place to look is the process of digitizing content. Most companies today are already using network scanners and MFPs to capture and convert paper documents into electronic files that could then be shared or stored in a document repository.
Interestingly, while most offices are equipped with one or more multi-function devices, they do not necessarily have the software needed to create and work with digital documents effectively. When you look at how businesses leverage scanning in today’s office environment, most documents are scanned directly to e-mail for distribution as electronic files—often as a PDF document. But most scan-to-e-mail applications create static PDF files that cannot be manipulated.
Why is this so important? Converting from paper to digital does not in and of itself make information more accessible. In fact, the same technology that enables digital workflows can also be a hindrance. In many cases, users could be creating electronic documents that cannot be searched, edited, or modified in any way. The result is a static digital document that is no more flexible than the paper original.
When embarking on a paperless strategy, selecting the proper scanning software is likely the most important decision to make. A truly integrated capture and workflow solution will allow businesses to extract paper-based content so that users can work with that information more effectively. In order to reduce the amount of time spent searching for information, businesses should look for smart MFP solutions that convert paper documents into editable, searchable electronic files.