Why Companies Resist Going Paperless
Despite endless articles about the benefits of paperless offices and regardless of ROI proof shown in charts and diagrams, many businesses resist the move to paperless processes. Often the resistance starts the top -- many business owners are used to seeing paper on their employees' desks. To them, the paper stacks from faxes, invoices, memos and other documents are tangible proof that work is being done.
Because business owners are removed from the daily tasks their employees dom they usually underestimate how much time it takes to read, handle, file, copy or scan, send or retrieve paper documents. In truth, the stacks of paper are less a symbol of work being done and more a symbol of inefficiency and an inflated cost of doing business.
But the boss is not the only resistance in the organization. In fact, business owners can very nearly be excused for lacking the desire to change their internal processes, especially when the company is relatively successful. After all, the focus of the person on top is not on the daily paper grind it's on making deals, bringing in business and ensuring profitability. When deals are being done, business is coming in and profitability is there, most bosses are loath to initiate change without a compelling reason. It's the human condition to avoid change.
This same aversion to change affects employees as well.
Often, once an employee has been performing a job for a while he or she gets into a predictable groove. The groove may not be efficient, it may not be enjoyable, but it's predictable. Humans relish predictability because it makes them feel secure. Change is stressful. New routines, departmental changes, new software, doing things in a different way nearly always causes employee stress.
So, the great conspiracy that is silently agreed upon between owner, management and staff is to continue doing things as they've always been done. This may work successfully for quite a while. But then, little by little, the competition closes in. The competition has ramped up with more efficient processes, better customer service, faster document processing, all with little, if any additional capital expense. Suddenly, the competition's profits soar.
Don't Be Left Behind
The easiest way to reduce the collective resistance to a paperless office is by becoming informed. This means going beyond a web search and the reading of marketing materials. It means peering into the future and understanding the specific benefits that paperless processes can bring to your unique business and your unique business environment.
Too often, businesses assume that the way they do business will radically change if they go paperless; that their processes will need to be forced into some cookie-cutter mold that requires every business and every department to totally change the way they work, and start working the way some software package dictates.
While it's no doubt that there will be some changes required, the really good, professional companies who specialize in establishing paperless workflow for unique business operations usually start with a scalable, customizable platform that can be adapted for any business's preferred method of working.
Additionally, these paperless process experts will work with you to review your existing processes, often making recommendations that will enable you to reduce or combine steps for a smoother, faster paperless workflow. The same work gets done, but faster, better and with fewer errors.
So, whether you've never considered going paperless, or you've done some preliminary research and gotten bogged down, maybe it's time to take a fresh look at going paperless. Remember -- change is always easier when it's done on your time-table, rather than when it's forced upon you by competitive challenges.