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Should going paperless in the office be our end goal?

While companies want to eradicate paper from their offices and their processes, most are far from the nirvana of the paperless office. But is no paper the goal?

While companies want to eradicate paper from their offices and their processes, most are far from the idea of a "paperless office" -- where all transactions are digitized and everything is stored digitally in-house or in the cloud. Companies can, however, get closer to this paperless goal.

Doing so means turning once-manual processes into digital ones, which often involves a central content repository to house all digitized information in a content management system, which users have been known to reject because they can be far more cumbersome than just saving files to a server or to cloud-based file-sharing services like Box.

It also requires that workflows -- and all the pit stops for our products along the way -- become digitized. Consider contracts. Not only do they need to be created as digital files (rather than printed, scanned and saved to a repository), but signatures need to become digitized as well.

Laurence Hart, a consultant at Word of Pie and former AIIM CIO, talks about the technologies that underlie digitization and encourages enterprises to think less about the paperless-office nirvana -- which may be unachievable -- and more about how to become less dependent on paper.

This was last published in January 2015

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Does your company have a goal to go paperless? If so, by when, and what will it take to get there?
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In a word, no. Note that my company creates the means to eradicate paper, so you'd think I'd be in favor of supporting it as a worthy goal of a company.
The optimal mindset, in my opinion, is that paper is an absolutely fine way to consume information. It, however, is an unacceptable means of recording or storing information. Keep it from being a place when it's kept, and you're as paperless as you need to be. The finances of paper dependence are lousy enough to put some places out of business.
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No the goal is to grow income and improve profits. Whether that takes paper or electronic shouldn't matter. Of course moving to electronic processes will do more to meet the goal than paper. That's why it made sense to companies to digitize their accounting processes like receivables. Those moves don't equate to a totally 'paperless' company. 
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I'd agree with both these responses. I equate it to dieting - just as it's often unrealistic for many people to go completely without sugar (or gluten, or meat, etc.), it's also a false goal - the goal should really be to be healthier, and find ways to get closer to that, which will probably include cutting down on certain things. For companies, the goal is to be more efficient and more successful, and cutting down on paper use will be one way to get closer to that - but it's not an end goal in itself. 
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I've also noted a common theme among many of the customers I've talked to, where going paperless may achieve some cost reduction (though paper, ink, shipping), but the real boon seems to be time savings and great accuracy of processes. Many people say that digitization helps them do more in less time--and with greater accuracy.
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