By Rick Gallup
One of the many challenges facing business owners and managers today, is the transformation of documents from paper to digital. Although most people agree that this change is necessary, implementation is not a simple process.
Why go from paper to digital? Remote workers have access to information on many devices from virtually anywhere. If important documents are trapped in paper format, you are not fully utilizing the tools that mobile technology provides.
Another reason is that digital documents make it very easy to store and retrieve large volumes of data. Other reasons include cost savings, security, and sustainability, to name few.
What are the challenges? First there is acceptance. Most people are resistant to change. Getting everyone on board, is essential to a successful digital transformation strategy.
Then there is the process. Some companies will choose to eliminate printers, or install software that restricts printing. These can be effective measures, but only if you have a good understanding of the workflow, and how this action may impact it.
The path to transformation can be divided into four stages (understand, educate, execute, and improve). First you must understand how and where you use paper today. The distinction between “good” and “bad” paper can identify areas where you really need to use paper, and areas where you don’t.
Examples of “good’ paper might be when working with organizations outside of your own. They may still require paper to conduct business. Printed marketing materials may be a good way for you to promote your business. Sometimes there may be a legal requirement for a hand-written signature.
An example of “bad” paper would be any time hard copy documents are stored or shared, when it makes sense to do this electronically. Having a good managed print solution in place, can help you understand your current situation.
Next, you must educate.
Make a case for change, why it is necessary, and how it will be implemented. Establish policies for printing. If it is determined that a document should be printed, how should it be printed. Is color appropriate? What device should it be printed on?
It is important to understand the role of printing in people’s daily activities. Sometimes when policies are put into place, people look for a “workaround.” The last thing you want is for users to divert printing to un-managed devices. This will generate unnecessary and unexpected costs.
The third stage is execution. To implement a successful paper-to-digital transformation, everyone must be on board. It might be better to start small.
If you try to change everything at once, you run the risk of business disruption or even data loss. This step can be used as a trial, to see what works well, and where you need to consider a different approach. Positive changes can be shared with other departments as success stories.
Once you have begun the digital transformation process, you will want to look for other areas where change is appropriate. Your Managed Print Solution can provide you with information on print volumes, print costs, who is printing, what is being printed and where it is being printed.
As you expand this process across the organization, you will likely face resistance. If workers don’t see the change as positive, you won’t get the desired results. You may experience a loss of productivity. Or, ever worse, people looking for ways to circumvent the system. People fear what they don’t understand.
If everyone has a clear understanding of the process, and how they will benefit, a successful transition is more likely.
Although we are still a long way from a “paperless” society, with today’s technology, we can use “less paper”. Understanding your current situation, then implementing a well-planned transformation strategy, is the key.
Gallup is owner of Document Solutions of the North Country.