Start Small with Paperless Initiatives
August 30, 2013
By Mae Kowalke
, TMCnet Contributor
Start small and build from there. This iterative approach works for everything from weight-lifting to writing several feature articles like I did today.
One area where this is no less true is creating a paperless office. The dream of a fully paperless office might be far off, but little steps can be taken today that will move a business in the right direction and bring benefits even if the holy grail of zero paper use is not achieved soon.
"When you talk about a paperless office, the first thing people think is that they need paper for certain tasks, and to that I have no objection,” noted Pacific Office Automation president Doug Pitassi in a recent Digital Journal article. “Truly paperless is more myth than reality, but you can decrease paper consumption.”
There are many reasons why reduced paper use makes sense. These include savings in cost, efficiency and the environment.
"A paperless office can see savings in a variety of ways,” he said. “The first is the hard cost of paper, printers, toner and IT support. When you reduce the amount of paper you're printing, you can reduce all of those overhead costs.”
The second way that the paperless office makes sense is in terms of efficiency. A simple task like picking up paper from the printer doesn’t sound like much of a waste, but multiply that by five during a day and it adds up.
“If you have 20 people all doing the same thing, now you're talking about hours of lost productivity every day,” Pitassi noted.
Then there are the intangible benefits like helping the environment.
The average office worker in the United States uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to the Clean Air Council. That translates into roughly four million tons of copy paper per year. Those 10,000 sheets of copy paper translate into 20 reams of paper, per person, per year.
Getting there need not be that hard or expensive, either. It starts with setting up a digital file system, something that might already be in place with a company due to PDFs and e-mail.
With the digital file system in place, it then means setting up a document scanner to deal with incoming paper such as mail. A good document scanner to look into is Fujitsu’s (News - Alert) ScanSnap line of scanners.
It also is important to handle faxes. The solution for the fax is fax-over-IP (FoIP), the fax equivalent to voice-over-IP (VoIP). FoIP takes fax and transforms it into a digital form that can then arrive in e-mail and be routed to one or more destinations.
A good FoIP provider to look into is AudioCodes’ (News - Alert) FaxBack fax ATA solution, which lets existing fax equipment use FoIP.
Going paperless offices "just make sense," according to Pitassi. "Whatever your motivation for going paperless, it's something that will come sooner or later for almost every industry.”
Edited by Rory J. Thompson