Paperclip Problem

I’m overrun in paperclips.  Big ones, little ones, and those really fancy ones with the bendy handles.  Some are plastic coated with patterns like hearts, but I have no idea where those came from!  I don’t really know what I’m going to do with them.  Maybe the kids can make holiday decorations or something.

This weekend my desk filled up with paperclips.  And it’s not the first time it’s happened.  It all started when I decided to turn some old papers at my storage unit into secure digital files.  After all, finding papers in storage is difficult and time consuming.  By scanning some more of my old stuff, I now have access to it from anywhere in an instant, it’s backed up, and I’ve reclaimed real estate which would be much for valuable for other uses.  I can retain my information without worry about longevity, accessibility, or backup; I know my files are easy-to-find and safe.

Do you have filing cabinets full of old papers?  Would reclaiming your space help make you more profitable?  Do you have fears about security?  The answers are probably all yes, so I’m going dispel a couple of “paperless myths” today.

The first one I hear most often is, “but David, it’s in my file and its right there when I need it.”  Or is it?  Paper files are susceptible to theft, fire, flooding, etc.   Hardware is cheap, but information drives your business.  If you were serious about protecting your information, then you would have copies of it in multiple locations, right?  But making copies of your paper is costly and harmful for the environment.  If your documents are scanned, you can back them up as part of your Business Continuity Plan to ensure you always have access to your information.  Also, while cabinets can be locked, it’s actually more secure to have your files encrypted and safe from prying eyes.  Scanning documents makes them safer and more secure than they could ever be in your office.

Another objection I hear is that it will cost too much money to go paperless.  Well, thanks to modern technology, it’s now cheaper and easier than ever.  There are scanning solutions out there, like Azzaron’s eDocXL, for a mere few hundreds of dollars per user.  The real cost is not in the software or even the scanning hardware, but in the labor to convert the paper to digital.  Having someone load the scanner takes time.  Sometimes you can find an intern and sometimes you can hire a company with high-speed scanners to accomplish the task, but there is a definite cost to this component.  But rather than focus on the cost to do the work, I help companies focus on the cost of not doing the work.  Let’s take the example of a standard filing cabinet which takes up about 4 sq. ft. of space (really about 8 sq. ft. when you consider that the drawers need to open).  In the space of about 4 filing cabinets, you can put a desk for another worker.  Would that be profitable for your business?  Upgrading your workforce without upgrading your office space?  Oh, and don’t forget about the true hard costs of storage.  Like what happens if you need that one important file at the office, but you’ve been working from home all day.  Well, if the document was already scanned, it would be possible to save both the time *and* the gas it would take to go get it.

At Azzaron, we rarely print anything.   I have never replaced the toner cartridges in either of my two laser printers since I got them over five years ago.  All of our files get electronic signatures without the need to ever print out.  We spend very little time, energy, and money storing documents.  Instead, our documents feed into our eDocXL paperless document management system where they are instantly accessible, always backed-up, and secured in our data center.  I will continue converting my very old documents to paperless to gain the added benefits…and my kids will have plenty of paperclips to make a very long string of pretty metal chain decorations.

If you would like to analyze the cost of paperless in your business and stack up the paperclips too, there’s never been a better time.

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