Less Paper in the Office... the Hidden Benefits

May 10, 2012

Entering a new year, we continue to experience exponential change.  The trends we witness - in what our clients want, in what their businesses demand, and in what technology brings to the table, challenge us to create a culture that embraces that change and rewards innovation.  Always top-of-mind for us at Intelivert - is sustainability.  Will the solution we implement help our client create a sustainable business result, and are we providing the most environmentally responsible approach in delivering that solution?

Over the coming weeks we’ll be examining the trends we see in our work.  Hopefully you’ll find some of our observations thought provoking, and maybe even useful for your business.  In this post I’d like to talk about a concept we see more and more of our clients embracing - the concept of using less paper in the office.  Taken by itself, it’s a great idea, but the efficiencies you can gain as a result are perhaps an even more important reason to step back and take a more holistic look at your business, including paper usage, processes, systems, retention policies, regulatory implications and overall risk management.According to the market research firm, Info Trends, businesses continue to print, copy and fax more than a trillion pages of paper each year. Further, according to INC Magazine, it costs the average business $20 to file a paper document, $120 to search for a misfiled document and approximately $250 to recreate a document that is lost. Include the very real issues of regulatory compliance requiring specific ways for your business to handle, share, store, readily access and retain your documentation.

Perhaps the most interesting result we see again and again with clients whose primary goal was paper reduction - is the new visibility and insight into key business information they receive from the new solution.  Taking advantage of portal and mobile technologies, combined with a fresh look at existing processes, can provide significant efficiencies, cost savings and significantly improve the risk position of your business.

Here’s an example.  We recently provided a mobile inspections solution to a client whose previous process was paper-based.  Using a paper form, safety managers conducted on-site inspections all over the United States.  The completed form was faxed to the home office.  If inspection deficiencies were identified, a person at the home office would make phone calls, send faxes and emails in an attempt to rectify the deficiency. The faxed inspection form, along with a page of notes were then filed and stored indefinitely.  Often deficiencies were not fully tracked or corrected. 

The inefficiencies in this process were obvious, and the risk associated with this way of operating was scary.  Often, the way management found out about these deficiencies was after receiving a large fine for safety violations or when an employee or contractor injury occurred.

Intelivert provided a mobile, electronic inspection solution to replace the paper-based process.  The new process includes data entry on a mobile tablet.  Once submitted, the data is aggregated on a client portal where real-time reports are generated for managers.  If deficiencies are identified, workflow is automatically triggered, notifying the employee responsible for rectifying the issue. That same employee must close-out the deficiency task in the safety portal.

So while the original goal of this organization was to reduce paper and eliminate the associated process, the solution’s impact to the business was far greater.

The organization in my example successfully:

  • Eliminated the mountains of paper and associated cost
  • Created an efficient, real-time look at the state of inspections
  • Introduced workflow, creating an audit trail ensuring safety deficiencies are corrected
  • Uses safety dashboards allowing for easy identification of trends
  • Eliminated associated violation fines
  • Reduced their incident rate
  • Lowered insurance costs
  • Dramatically improved their overall risk position for the business

Interesting how a decision to reduce wasteful reliance on paper products can result in a truly sustainable result.

Inteli-Safety Team

The Intelivert Inteli-Safety Team consists of seasoned safety professionals, business process experts, compliance specialists and market analysts who strive to provide valuable content to keep our clients and our readers informed. Our blog content focuses on safety, regulatory and compliance trends, technology and other current events.

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