Most companies rely on some sort of document manage system that is vital to its business processes.  This is true from law firms to manufacturing companies:  and for these entities, documentation management is really not part of their core competencies, so most companies don’t manage their documentation as well as they could.

While some businesses are facing the realities of a poor document system, many are not, probably because documentation is not considered a major cost factor.  Yet just about every employee in a company needs to access documentation is some form or another.  Documentation is probably so ingrained in the business flow that nobody really understands how much time, effort and cost is association with documentation.

Consider some statistics:

  • The average cost of paper alone is about $200.00 per employee per year.
  • The amount of paper produced by the average company is growing annually by 25% according to Gartner.  Source
  • One worker can waste up to 10 hours per month because of document inefficiencies. Source.

When all costs are considered, documentation management can add up to 1000’s of dollars per year per employee.  Most businesses do not understand how much money they are wasting because of an inefficient document management system..

Here are some places that companies are wasting money:

Printing and Copying.   Even if a business has a centralized documentation system, there are dozens of copiers and printers throughout the facility.  In some cases every employee has their own printer.  Businesses with poorly defined work flows can be spending 1000’s of dollars per year in un-necessary printing and copying.   For companies that do not have their documents in digital formats, the only way to share is to hand out stacks of printed copies.  These printed copies are usually just perused a bit in a meeting then filed or thrown away later.  The average worker prints 34 pages a day of which 17 % never get used.  Source.

Out Dated Documents:  63% of employees have at one time or another worked on out dated or incorrect documents. Source.  Not only is this wasted time, but incorrect documentation could results in scrap product, purchasing the wrong components or miss-managing an order.    Usually this issue is caused by poor revision control systems that don’t make sure that old docs are pulled out of use when a new revision is created.   For a paper based system, it may be impossible to effectively find all the out of date documents.

Searching and Retrieving:   The average employee spends 400 hours per years searching and retrieving documentation.  Source.    Lost or misfiled documents consume a significant amount of time.  Companies that are not fully digitized are wasting a ton of money on storage and retrieval.  According to the same source previously cited, 2% to 5 % of a company’s documentation is lost or misfiled on a given day.

Merging and Editing:  The most common source for producing new documents is information from existing documents.   This can be a nightmare if the documentation system is not in a digital and easily editable file.   Some documents are simple images that are in digital formats.  One cannot select parts and copy since the text is not readable.  This means that a worker is reviewing a document and manually keying in the information.  This is time consuming and ripe for errors.

Scanning:  Many companies will print out a document for signatures or other mark ups and then scan the paper document into the system.   The scanned version can’t be electronically searched so time is spent manually searching and finding the precise part of a document.

The solution to most of the cost issues is to implement an effective paperless work system.  This is easier said than done because creating a good system requires a good analysis of document process flow, investment in hardware and software technology and many hours training the workforce and enforcing document disciplines.

For companies that do not have all their current documents in usable digital format, then an investment must be made to digitize documents in text readable and searchable formats.   A scanning and imaging company such a Microfacs can perform the needed digitization quickly and accurately.   In most cases, digitizing physical documents is a small cost compared to other investments needed to implement a paperless work system

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