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Is the World Ready for the Paperless Office?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

As we all know the amount of information that we need to deal with continues to grow; we are bombarded with e-mail and other forms of electronic communication on a daily basis. If all of this information was on paper there would be absolutely no way to manage it. In that electronic information is now the medium of choice there is really no alternative but to create an organized and secure electronic information repository.

I once wrote a paper called “The Paperless Office is All Talk, No Action”. The theme of my paper was that while there are many businesses who want (need) to go paperless and many are doing it, the only reason some are not is the fear of culture change. Recent events have led me to believe that the main points of resistance are elderly executives who are set in their ways are reluctant to share information and change years of behaviour owning and controlling documents on their personal hard drives. Or of more concern and expense — continuing to insist on printed contracts and other paper based materials for review and approval. These executives do not want to change the way they have worked for years and to some point I understand their view. They feel if it is not broken (a successful, profitable business) then don’t try and fix it. Unfortunately for some of these companies it will take a semi-disaster to change their thinking; an office fire that destroys paper records, an audit that requires months of digging through paper based content, or a stolen laptop that has not been backed up containing confidential information.

We recently met with a customer who has a very successful business in a very paper intensive (contracts, proposals, and agreements) industry. They purchased FileHold two years ago with the intention of putting all of this information into secure electronic form. One immediate driver was freeing up office space by scanning back filled paper documents into an electronic library. They organized the library, installed the software and after 18 months of trying they could not get their executives to change how they do things and adopt the paperless office. Even some of these same executives acknowledged it would be better if they did change but they were too comfortable and successful and ultimately, did not want to change their business processes.

This situation happens way too often. Organizations are reluctant to mandate to key executives that they need to change their work processes for the betterment of the organization overall. This was not a failure of the software but a failure of this organization to implement change and failure of executives to adopt change in processes and culture. In the long run there is still hope, the FileHold software remains installed. It will be downsized for use in only the Accounts Payable department who want to manage invoices in electronic form. As the volumes of paper continue to grow, consuming desk space and file rooms we are hopeful that these executives (or perhaps as a new generation of executives move in) will take a fresh look and be more willing to embrace a paperless environment. I would be interested in any culture change stories (or reluctance to change) anyone can share with us.

If you are ready to make a work culture change that will save your organization time and money, learn how FileHold could make your organization paperless by registering for a public webinar.