Paperless Pivot: The Massive Benefits of a Document Imaging System

A wall of metal filing cabinets overflowing with paper files. Implementing a document imaging system can help businesses declutter their physical files and improve document management. Image created with the help of ImageFX.

Offices go through a ton of paper documents, and wrangling them all is a challenge—taking time, using up space, and costing money.

A typical office worker makes 61 weekly trips to retrieve paper documents, while an average of four weeks per year is lost waiting on misfiled, mislabeled, or lost documents.

Every four-drawer filing cabinet holds approximately 10,000 documents, takes up about nine square feet of space, and costs upwards of $1,500 per year to maintain.

To top it all off, the amount of paper we are going through is not decreasing, but in most cases, it is increasing, despite more and more organizations embracing hybrid or remote work. In the U.S. alone, the average person uses 650 pounds of paper annually.

The Answer: A Document Imaging System

A Document Imaging System can be a massive cost and space-saving solution, provide a significant efficiency boost to your organization, enhance your disaster recovery plan, improve security, bring better collaboration capabilities, and decrease your environmental impact.

We’ll cover all of the benefits of document imaging systems below, and if you want to read more about our recommended solution of Efalia ECM, check out our recent article on the subject.

Cost Savings

Sure, the overflowing filing cabinets and mountains of paper are a visual reminder of the physical space wasted (we’ll cover that in a bit). But the actual cost of paper goes far beyond square footage, draining your budget in unexpected ways. Gartner estimates that as much as 3% of a company’s revenue is wasted on paper.

  • Printing and paper: Every sheet adds up. Studies suggest an average office worker consumes 10,000 sheets annually, translating to around $50 per employee in printing costs alone. Factor in ink and toner, paper jams, and maintenance, and the figure climbs.
  • Storage: Renting off-site storage units or dedicating prime office space to filing cabinets incurs significant expenses. Document imaging reclaims that space for literally anything other than storing paper.
  • Lost documents: Misplaced contracts, invoices, or reports can lead to missed deadlines, penalties, and wasted time searching.

You can expect significant cost reductions by implementing a document imaging and management (DIM) solution.
Three piles of paper documents on a tabletop, representing the physical documents that a document imaging system can help businesses digitize and manage electronically.

Time Savings and Improved Efficiency

Do you love the frantic scramble for a crucial document, minutes ticking by as you sift through a physical filing system, pulling open drawers, and thumbing through folders? Or do you enjoy the tedious task of manually filing invoices, draining your energy and focus? Paper can steal precious hours and hinder productivity.

  • Lost documents: An average employee spends 1.5 hours searching for misplaced paper files any given week. Multiply that across your organization, and the lost productivity becomes staggering.
  • Retrieval delays: Locating specific information within physical documents can be time-consuming, impacting decision-making and workflow efficiency.
  • Manual processes: Filing, organizing, and updating paper documents are tedious and repetitive tasks, which can negatively impact employee engagement and morale.
  • Version control issues: Managing multiple copies of paper documents leads to confusion, errors, and wasted time resolving discrepancies. At one point in the not-too-distant past, 83% of workers lost time due to “versioning” issues. With a digital version of a file and correct versioning controls, that percentage drastically shrinks.

Office Space Saver

Every square foot translates to dollars. Clinging to traditional paper storage to store documents is a luxury most businesses can't afford.

Filing cabinets and storage units occupy a considerable amount of office organizational real estate—prime real estate when you consider the average price per square foot for U.S. offices was $38 in 2023.

A binder full of confidential documents locked with a padlock. Businesses can use document imaging systems to scan and digitize their paper documents, making them less susceptible to loss or damage than physical copies.

Security and Disaster Recovery Improvement

Document imaging solutions, like Efalia ECM, can enhance your data security and preparedness, transforming it from a vulnerability to a strength.

Here are just some of paper's security pitfalls:

  • Physical breaches: Lost documents, unauthorized access to filing cabinets, or even fires and natural disasters can easily compromise sensitive information stored on paper.
  • Limited access control:Controlling access to physical documents can be challenging, increasing the risk of unauthorized viewing or modification.
  • Disaster vulnerability:Paper documents are highly susceptible to damage or destruction in fires, floods, or other natural disasters, potentially causing irreparable loss of critical data.

Collaboration Opportunities

A DIM solution unlocks a new era of collaborative possibilities for organizations, transforming how any team works together, particularly when considering the move to hybrid and remote work across the globe.

Moving from a paper-centric office to a paperless workflow allows:

  • Real-time document access: No more waiting for someone to finish editing a document. Your team can access and work on documents simultaneously, regardless of location, fostering instant collaboration and boosting productivity. 80% of your employees want this—it makes sense to give it to them.
  • Streamlined workflows: Automate cumbersome document routing and approval processes. DIM allows for assigning tasks, setting deadlines, and tracking progress within the system, creating a smooth and efficient flow of information.
  • Enhanced communication: Facilitate easy document sharing with comments and annotations, encouraging team discussions and collaborative decision-making.

A symbolic tree made of paper, planted in dirt, representing the foundation of a document imaging system. Converting paper documents into digital files can help businesses reduce their physical footprint and become more environmentally sustainable. Image created with the help of ImageFX.

Environmental Sustainability

Organizations are increasingly seeking ways to operate more sustainably. Document imaging isn't just about efficiency, security, and savings. It also helps reduce your environmental footprint.

Making the Move: Getting Started with Document Imaging

We’ve explored the numerous benefits of transitioning from paper to digital, from substantial cost savings and time gains to enhanced security, boosted collaboration, and a lighter environmental footprint. 

So, how do you make the move?

1. Assess your current situation:

  • Analyze your paper dependence across departments.
  • Calculate your printing and storage costs.
  • Estimate time wasted searching for documents.

2. Choose the right Document Imaging and Management solution:

  • Research features like document capture, indexing, and security.
  • Consider integrations with existing software.
  • Seek user-friendly and scalable solutions.

Efalia ECM ticks many boxes for many organizations. With its centralized document repository, advanced document digitization, easy search and access, enhanced security and compliance, and flexible deployment, Efalia can solve your paper problem.

Remember, the shift to paperless isn't just about eliminating paper; it's about transforming your work culture. Embrace the opportunity to streamline operations, empower your team, and contribute to a sustainable future.

Contact HBS today and let our team of experts guide you through the process. We'll help you assess your current document environment, choose the right solution for your organization, develop a customized implementation plan, and empower your team to thrive in a paperless world.

author avatar
Carly Westpfahl