Kick the Habit

 The paper habit is a thing of the past… isn’t it?


We’ve heard (and shared) a lot lately about the NYS Legislature’s use of paper, and the bill they have introduced to use paperless bill procedures. Yes, they produce millions of paper copies a year. They use literally enough paper per month that if you stacked it all up, it would be taller than Mt. Marcy, New York’s tallest mountain. That’s almost a mile of paper! And its expensive, to the tune of an estimated $53 million per year to produce and dispose of the waste.

What’s the point of generating all of this paper? Its really not to to disseminate information anymore – bills and other legislative actions are published electronically, and shared with legislators prior to the vote on various electronic devices, including iPads. All of the publicly viewable copies of the Legislative records are shared online in digital format through the NY State Archives. The truth is, the printing takes place primarily to meet an outdated requirement of the NYS Constitution. And it continues in a time-honored tradition, following a procedure more than 200 years old, with only a select few (including one of our own local Assemblymen, Jim Tedisco) making a real effort to try to change the tradition.

The truth is that the NYS Legislature has continued the practice of printing all of those copies because that’s the way they’ve always done it.

Its easy enough look at the Legislature’s activities and wonder why it took them so long to set about changing this outdated, expensive and truly wasteful practice. Or even to think that the same issues don’t apply to your business. You’d probably be wrong.

If you’re like 95% of American businesses and organizations, you still maintain paper records. Lots of them – according to industry estimates, the U.S. alone is approaching 4,000,000,000,000 (4 trillion) documents being stored by businesses and government agencies.

And that number is growing, even in a digital world. The average employee still generates about 10,000 paper documents per year. In fact, the use of computers is not even slowing the amount paper we use: In the last 20 years, the combined usage of today’s top ten paper users has increased by more than 126%.

Unless you’re an odd hold-out still using a typewriter, you’re already creating your documents in digital format to begin with, and you’re undoubtedly storing a copy of them somewhere on your computer network, right? Then why do we continue to use so much paper to print those files?

For some, it’s a lack of trust. About 40% of people surveyed in a recent AIIM report do not believe that their electronic files are accurate, accessible or trustworthy. They need a physical copy to feel comfortable that it really exists, somewhere it can be touched and seen. Others believe that an original copy with an ink signature is required as part of a legal record. (Generally not true, by the way.) Still others believe that the paper records are safer and more reliable from a records management perspective, or even that paper records are required by various regulations and records retention rules (also not generally correct!)

In the end, most of us print copies for the very same reason the Legislature does – because we’ve always done it that way. We are creatures of habit, and our processes are so deeply ingrained into our daily work habits that we no longer think of what we’re doing, or even what it may be costing us.  We’re uncomfortable with any change to that routine, and those old, time-worn habits are hard to break.

In far too many ways, we’ve neglected to update our processes to take advantage of current technology, and its costing us. Using a well-designed document management system like eBizCloud© and maintaining a truly paperless environment is surprisingly affordable and has been proven to provide a return of up to $6.12 for every dollar invested. The truth is, from consumption of resources, costs of storage and waste removal, to decreased efficiency and increased labor costs,  paper is an incredibly expensive habit to maintain.

Challenge yourself to set your office free of the paper habit. Do you really need to print that file? Is there a better, faster, easier way to manage your business processes – without a paper copy? Use less paper and save a tree (or two!) Save time… a LOT of it. You will improve your bottom line.

In fact, we’re so certain that you’ll be happy that you gave up the paper habit that we guarantee it. Interested in learning more?  Find out how to set your office free from the paper habit today!

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