The notion of freeing our businesses from paper has been a conversation going on almost as long as computers have been commonplace in our offices. Especially in the legal profession it is almost expected to see offices and desks strewn with paper files, numerous executed forms, and handwritten notes.
Even in the hit TV show The Office, despite competitive disadvantage to more digitally savvy and streamlined companies, commercial reliance on paper is a certainty that would keep even the smallest paper firms in business.
However, we are now at the tipping point. More firms and businesses have sought to end their reliance on paper and have been able to through effective document management as well as several other digital solutions – essentially bringing the amount of paper they use daily to zero.
Here we show five reasons why you should consider going paperless, and then three ways how you can start implementing a paperless strategy:
- Reclaim the office
While there is the obvious environment contribution to move away from paper – in that a decrease in paper demand will help us reclaim the rainforest – but going paperless also allows you to reclaim the office.
The amount of office space spent on filing cabinets and other paraphernalia can be reclaimed – meaning either more working space to grow your in-office team, or the potential to downsize your office and save on the overheads. This goes doubly for off-site storage you need for the safe storage of documentation that a paperless system would render redundant.
- Finding files
An important and oftentimes overlooked aspect of not opting for a paperless office is that it is unreliable in terms of both data accuracy and access.
In a position where 30% of data comes from third parties, and data comes in all kinds of fashions, be it PDFs, scanned copies, printed templates that have been executed, various executed copies not yet scanned, there is a sizable time cost in finding the correct information to work from. In fact, a recent study by McKinsey found it to be approximately 20% of the work week. That’s one whole day per week.
- Greater collaboration and efficiency from wherever
Whether it be to find data and information more quickly, or to share and assign documents, correspondence, and forms between staff members, teams and more, going paperless makes working between teams and locations incredibly easy.
So, no matter where your staff are, whether it’s different offices, working from home, or just between different teams, or whether you need to locate old files for an unexpected reason – you can find the documentation within an instant.
- Meet customer expectations (and not just through ESG)
Customers expect businesses to do their bit in the community. In fact, in a survey conducted by Unilever, a third of customers across the world choose to buy from brands that are seen to be doing social or environmental good. As such, moving to a paperless office concept will allow you to showcase a commitment towards being environmentally friendly/conscious.
There is also the customer expectation of data transparency and digital customer journeys. Having data stored digitally – this can map out a digital customer journey where clients can both access documents as well as edit and execute them. Such tools allow you to meet the digital expectations of clients in the modern marketplace.
- Better document security
Paper is an unreliable resource which we place immense trust, particularly in commerce. Some of the biggest transactions are filed using paper, stored away, and depended upon as paper – yet paper is flammable, easily destroyed, manipulated, prone to getting lost, becoming damp and a host of other potential issues that could befall it.
Documents managed in a digital system, particularly via. the cloud, are more robust, easy to locate and track, including any changes and can be more easily secured and protected from any edits made by anyone who shouldn’t be able to make changes.
How document management creates a paperless office
Through an effective, legal-centric document management system, your law firm can benefit from end-to-end digital filing that facilitates both internal and external collaboration on casework, as well as a number of tools for maximum digital facilitation such as email management directly within Outlook, version management for better tracking, governance controls for greater security, matter-specific search tools for easier discovery, and AI generated suggestions for superfast filing.
You can trust NetDocuments to remove the barriers to efficient document management and transform your documents into an efficiency engine for collaboration, productivity, and growth – without limitations or restrictions.
With NetDocuments you get market-leading features in a document management solution, including:
- 24/7 access from anywhere
- Security and compliance through the Cloud
- Business transparency with NetDocuments Analytics
- Customisable flexibility with purpose-built add-ons
- Scalability through open APIs and integrations with multiple applications
As a NetDocuments worldwide Platinum Partner, and NetDocuments’ EMEA Partner of the Year 2022, Advanced are accredited to deliver, train, and support NetDocuments. As a first step, we will advise and support you in selecting the document management functions that can deliver exactly what you need.
Other ways to become paperless
Document management is one of the larger ways, there's also the way in which you conduct your casework on a day-to-day basis. Utilising a digital-first practice and case management system, particularly one with a host of integrations and collaboration tools both internal and external allows you to cast paper aside as documentation and execution goes fully digital. Perfect when you consider the way that government offices are pushing for a digital first mindset.
The third way is to have a forms library available fully online, taking the most up-to-date forms from a wide range of legal vendors and offices and ensuring that you can not only fill and submit these online as easily as possible but also have these executed by clients and third parties without a single piece of paper being printed.