It’s the great fear of the science fiction age: the very thing designed to make your life easier, will turn against you.

Maybe it isn’t the robots you have to worry about, though. Not yet, anyway. Maybe it isn’t the screen in front of you. Maybe it’s something that seems a lot more innocuous. Just sitting there by your computer, in notepads, in cluttered piles. Gaining sentience, a will of its own: to wreak havoc in your workplace. Unbridled chaos. Highly flammable chaos.

The more it feeds the bigger it gets. It hides in your cupboards, your shelves, your just-tidied desks. It’s lurking, always. Vacuous and cruel, it grows and grows. You’ll find it jamming the printer, filling your filing cabinets and recycle bins. It’s paper. The great paper monster.

Information is crucial to your organisational. It sits at the centre of all your operations and processes. But in a hard-copy format? Information is much harder to handle. When it comes to information and document management, taming the paper-monster is becoming an essential task for your organisation to tackle.

Despite the massive adoption of electronic processes, email and information that never makes it to physical paper, most organisations still deal with a whole bunch of paper every day in the form of documents, forms, invoices, notes and many more. Without those foundations, the structure would quite rapidly tear itself apart. With essential documents coming every day in hard copy, how can you fight the paper monster? The one that keeps bringing all your automated processes to a grinding halt, causing confusion and so much unnecessary manual handling?

Poor paper handling affects your ability to be efficient and, even worse, competitive. There are plenty of low-cost start-ups out there that are more than happy to oust you, ready to steal your customer base out from under you, as quickly as possible.

It can seem overwhelming, so, where do you begin?

Well, it’s fair to say that information management is probably not your core business, cut yourself a little slack. Even with your employees’ best intentions, daily distractions and inexperience will only make it harder to achieve an effective policy on your own. Consider reaching out to an expert to get their advice and assistance. Start by looking at some of the steps that most businesses would need to address:

  • Reduce the volume coming in. By moving processes to online-only, all you have to deal with is the leftover paper.
    • This means taking your inbound mail channel and taking a digital mailroom approach to capture everything as it comes in. Once captured, you can automatically capture information from that paperwork and feed your internal systems without the need for a human to transcribe. This can all happen without the paper ever actually entering your office.
  • Start classifying. Work out what paperwork you have, create and need to keep and then once you have that, you can start looking at where best to locate it all. A substantial part of the paper problem is its ad-hoc nature that prevents it from being classified and located in a consistent place. Classifying your paperwork allows you to start taking action.
  • Get rid of it. If you’re keeping it, digitise and move the original off-site. If you’re not? Bin it. Through, of course, a reputable secure destruction provider.
  • Don’t burden your employees by entrusting them to just, well, fix it all. Asking your employees to dictate and control your information management processes is a little like asking the paper monster to eradicate itself. Your employees are part of the system as it is and so it’s best to overhaul the whole thing rather than try and change employee behaviour within the system.
  • Make it accessible. Scanning, sorting and classifying will only get you so far. Ongoing, you’ll need a consistent place to retrieve information so your employees can use it effectively on a day to day basis. Ideally you’ll have a document management platform in place that allows you to manage your documents and build those document-centric workflows in.

So, what can it mean to your business?

You want to know what it’s all for! By making these changes you’re bound to see some improvements. That’s the best news there is.

Efficiency: Firstly, you’ll see an improvement in efficiency. Better use of your information, less duplication, confusion and information recreation. Your expensive employees can spend less time doing mundane paper shuffling and will be able to focus more time on their, well, actual jobs. Your business can start reacting quicker in a competitive market.

Costs: Reduction of costs is important – you don’t need to be told that – and although there are implicit cost benefits saving on the paper generated and moved around your business, there are far more valuable cost benefits. Many of these come from core processes being executed more efficiently, better customer retention and if you’ve outsourced, a reduced cost of ownership for your new solution.

Risk: Failing to manage risk can have some far reaching consequences. Whether it’s brand damage through issuing the wrong customer or the kind of errors that affect your business’ ability to operate in a regulated industry such as financial services. Knowing where your information is and trusting that it’s managed can be one of the significant advantages of moving to a well-managed information management solution.

So, now it’s time to ask yourself. Lurking in the corner there, how big have you let your paper monster grow?

It may just be time for you to reach out to an expert to help you tame that monster. To get in touch with the team of monster tamers at ZircoDATA you can call 13 ZIRCO, email services@zircodata.com or follow this link.