Most companies will look to document scanning as a way of managing their paper based information and with advances and maturing technology these solutions have started to become economically viable. There are some economic benefits for organizations to make this transition:
- Paper based business processes are resource intensive and costly to manage
- These systems are often error prone
- They don’t scale
So there are some real, tangible, business arguments for document scanning and managing these paper based systems electronically using document management and workflow.
I think most of us in business are pragmatic enough to realize that whilst we all want to do our bit it is the cost saving agenda rather than the green agenda that drives change.
We all instinctively know that managing large paper archives is simply not a very environmentally friendly way of managing data. The question is in doing this are we ticking the green box?
The Cost Of Storing Documents Long Term
It is worth considering the environmental and cost impact of keeping the status quo. Many businesses today are required to operate within the confines of compliance legislation and this often demands the retention of the original documents. There is a real economic and green cost to maintaining a paper archive:
- Documents have to be collated and stored.
- This requires resource time and box storage with the environmental cost of manufacturing
- both the paper and the storage materials.
- Transportation costs and carbon emissions
- The document storage facilities will often have climate and humidity control
- Monitoring systems
- Fire suppression
- Staff to manage and secure the facilities and their travel to and from work.
- Retrieval costs when the originals need to be retrieved.
I am not sure anyone has actually analyzed the cost and impact on the environment but I think it’s safe to say that this is the cost of compliance as this appears to be the primary driver for retention.
The Cost of Scanning Documents and Storing them Electronically
So if we are able to scan documents at source how does this impact the factors above:
- There is the green and environmental cost of the scanning equipment. However, if you use a specialist document scanning company then you could argue this is leveraging an existing investment.
- There are transportation costs to the scanning facilities
- There is the carbon costs associated with running the equipment, building and the staff.
- Once scanned the document have to be stored electronically and this computer equipment has to be manufactured, staff are required to operate it.
- It has to be stored in a secure controlled environment and it consumes electricity.
- Once the documents are scanned they may still have to be stored or even disposed of through secure shredding. Again there is a real business cost and a cost to the environment.
So where is the Carbon Saving in Document Scanning?
Clearly if we didn’t produce these documents in the first place there would be no need for scanning. However, reality says that businesses are still dependent on physical files. By applying this philosophy of digitizing key business processes we can eliminate this dependency and the real environmental bonus comes from changing how we work.
Electronic documents can be accessed anywhere. Document management technology, security and document workflow means that workers no longer need to be co-located and this means:
- Working from home can be a real practical reality
- Office downsizing is an achievable goal
- Improved worker productivity means fewer staff
So this question is; if you can’t achieve these changes is document scanning just a money saving exercise or is a viable green strategy?
Dajon help organizations transition from manual paper based systems helping to reduce costs and improve staff productivity.