Go Paperless or Pay for Tradition
Should We Go Paperless?
Paper is spectacular when you look at all its uses. It’s only when we compare it to interactive software systems that we begin to see its limitations.
For instance, when Murry Hill Medical Group switched its electronic medical record system to software, they saved $238,000 annually (Clinical Neurology). However, it’s not always easy to switch, so today we’d like to go over some facts and some solutions that have helped companies see the switch as the pragmatic choice.
In today’s business landscape, there are many hoops and hurdles to jump through. Much more than say sixty years ago. With the ever-increasing demands in compliance comes mountains of proof and verifying documents. With these documents you need storage, administration, and the ability to move those documents if required.
These costs in the past were seen as the price of business and expected to wash with the revenue. However, now that we know better, wash or not, should we still be operating in this manner? Especially with the deluge of new safety and environmental laws every year. These laws all require their own proof of compliance, their own due diligence, and their own sea of paperwork. Can businesses thrive with traditional ways?
Let’s look from the other perspective, once something is digital, it becomes easier to transport, manipulate, and integrate. However, implementing software in the first place can be tough, and the upfront costs can be seen as heavy if not carefully compared to the savings. That’s why it’s crucial to make the right decision in the beginning to guarantee a return on investment.
Despite the initial hurdles, from onboarding to compliance, once you go paperless, you won’t look back.
The key fault with paper is its inability to be transmitted in its mutable form. Whereas digital forms and data can be sent worldwide at the click of a button. The ramifications of this fact are incredible when you think of how much money it costs to send a letter and everything handling that document entails.
A digital form is better in every regard. Especially when you consider that you could create a paper copy of the digital form if you truly desired. So digital forms are:
• Backwards compatible
• More secure – easily encrypted
• Tiny – digital copies still require space, albeit exponentially less space than paper
The digital form can do all these things automatically, while its predecessor can perform some of these duties; only paper requires our help in every step of the process, whereas digital data can be automated (programmed).
Many companies are still spending billions of dollars on paper related tasks when other companies have automated these processes decades ago.
Alright, Lets Go Paperless…
Before you plunge into digital ether, there are many things to consider when choosing software. You need to consider:
What do we require paper for
What features we need
A rough return on investment calculation
What do I Require?
Some companies use little to no paper, and one should consider just how much you spend a year on stationery and how much of your staff is tied up in the process. You may find that it’s not worth a large change to your methods at this point. However, this is unlikely due to the rising needs of most governments and the proof of compliance with safety regulations and environmental laws they normally expect.
So, before you begin, first find out what uses the most paper in your office. For instance, health and safety has become extremely proactive, expecting workers to have a myriad of courses that prove their minds in the right place for each task. You could start there. If all your employees have certification backed up digitally, then you have no reason to devote filing cabinets to your workers credentials. Not only do you save space and time, but you also save money transferring these documents where they’re required.
That’s just one example that could be costing you thousands. You need to carefully expose any of these issues before choosing your software because there are lots that can achieve much more than just credential storage.
One of the great things about software is its ability to interact with other facets of your organization and programs. So choosing software that can harmonize your tasks and even track accordingly is essential in the beginning. Otherwise, you’ll end up with people transferring data the old fashion way which will hamper the true autonomous benefits of digital.
Features to Look For When Going Paperless
A good place to start in choosing software is to verify its security. To guarantee this, you don’t need to become a computer scientist, you just need to choose a product that was designed by one. So, before you make a short list, it’s prudent to understand some of the key features or phrases in the industry associated with control, authority, and security. These are all features government agencies verify to validate your audits, systems, and signatures.
Audit trails are designed to bread crumb your information throughout your system. They will leave traces everywhere your document interacted. Allowing auditors to verify the authenticity of the document and rule out any post written tampering.
A closed system regarding computing refers to a system that cannot be tampered with by more than the admins of the system, such as an antivirus program, or our cloud filing system in our LMS. Whereas an open system is something that can be altered by other products, software, hardware, and users, like a personal computer. So, if you see the word closed system, you’ll know it’s referring to a system that is more secure by design. Thus, it has much more legitimacy in the eyes of most governing bodies, for they know it cannot be easily tampered with by other software.
eSignatures are digital signatures. Like everything digital, eSignatures need to meet many conditions in order to be deemed legitimate. You need to make sure the software you choose meets the usual requirements for eSignatures. To learn more about government regulations on eSignatures, visit our blog on the FDA requirements for digital filing.
Close the Book on Paper
Paper got us far, and before that, it was cuneiform (an ancient writing system pressed into clay blocks). However, like the blocks, paper has long been weighing us down.
It’s not merely about the weight, it’s about the transmission, the storing, and the people that we need to facilitate the bygone medium. It’s just too much, and it’s hard to calculate how much facilitating paper is costing industries due to every company being different but there is money to be saved and thus earned in almost every industry.
So ask yourself, with everything you do at work: Does that really require paper, or could we automate that?