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Digitized document management systems have been around for years and while the benefits of going paperless have been well documented, it’s surprising how few organizations have made the leap to going totally paperless.

While the process may seem simple, given today’s technology and the cost of cloud storage becoming very affordable, it’s surprising to note that only 17% of companies in the U.S. have created what would be considered a truly (or nearly) paperless environment.  In fact, it is projected that paper demand is expected to double before 2030.

So why do we still have this love affair with paper in 2021? First, the majority of today’s workforce, from baby boomers on down, have grown up with paper. Old habits are hard to break. Secondly, while organizations have made attempts at reducing the use of paper and move to digital storage, many have not created processes that ensure employees are walking down the paperless path. Lastly, try as they may, management has failed to achieve buy-in (from the top on down) with regards to creating a paperless environment.

With all this being said, Covid19 has created a significant push for digitization thru out the entire industry. There has never been a better time than now to re-think and re-examine your credit union’s processes and systems to create a paperless environment. Below are some simple steps to consider:

  • Don't assume your staff will discover (and implement) ways of minimizing their paper usage – remember they have a love affair with paper. Create specific written guidelines and processes to ensure a paperless office.
  • Make it easier to work without paper. The paperless process needs to be easy and deliver tangible benefits (save time, save effort, save the environment). Benefits should include easier filing and retrieval of scanned and sensitive documents via cloud storage, and the ability to share them without relying on copying or scanning.

  • Move/remove printers and copiers. If printers are still easy to access by your team, they will continue to be used. But if you remove them from desktops and replace them with centralized network printers relegated to dedicated areas within the office, you can limit their use. In addition, enable logging and password access to make printing secure when it's necessary. That also allows management to track usage and address abuses. You can institute policies that restrict purchases of ink and toner for only approved devices. That can further curtail the use of any printers that remain on employees' desks.

  • Implement a paperless filing system that is integrated with all departments within the credit union from member service to lending and back-office operations.

  • Get rid of as many of those fire proof files and paper filing systems as possible.  A digital filing system is more secure than paper because it can be accessed even in the event of a disaster, and scanned documents uploaded to your paperless system cannot be accessed without a password.

  • Enable digital scanners. Modern shared copiers include a document scanner that is capable of scanning paper documents and then storing them on many digital storage and cloud computing systems. Work with your office copier vendor to make your copier and document scanner part of your paperless office. Additionally, ask your copier vendor about setting up a digital scanner on the copier to integrate with an online faxing service.

  • Integrate all operations. Employees should be able to file their original documents directly within the core software they use to create your credit union’s documents. This way, you can automate work flow, easily store paperless documents and implement digital signature tools from within the same platform.

  • Replace fax machines. Use on line fax services to avoid the print-then-fax process. These solutions can be attached to your credit unions computer network to enable direct inbound and outbound faxing from users' computers, easing the transition to paperless statements and digital signature tools.

  • Switch to laptops and tablets wherever appropriate. If your credit union primarily uses desktop computers, going paperless is more arduous. Employees with desktop computers cannot bring their devices into company meetings, meaning they have to print any documents they need to show during the meeting. With laptops and tablets, though, your employees can connect to projectors or other displays that everyone in attendance can see without distributing printed copies.

Finally, set goals and time lines for incremental change. Lay out a timetable for your credit union’s transition to a paperless environment and set a date for converting to your target reduction in paper use. It's unlikely that your credit union will completely eliminate all paper in the office, so set an initial goal to reduce printing and paper use by some percentage. A 50% reduction is a good starting place, and a final goal of 80% reduction in paper use is a realistic final goal. Check your progress and adjust operations as needed.

Imagine the convenience, efficiency and savings of both time and money your credit union can enjoy, with everything accessible from the core and literally at your fingertips. It’s time to launch the out-of-this-world advantages of Sharetec Document Manager! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today to learn more.