Going paperless can greatly improve efficiency and reduce costs in your organization, but only if you do it right. Here are some of the biggest mistakes people and organizations have made when they move from physical to digital documents.

1. Resisting change

It takes a complete change of habit and office culture to become a paperless organization. Changing a habit that has been nurtured and reinforced for millennia is unlikely to happen overnight.

To get everyone on board with going digital, you need an effective change management strategy.

As Jennett Mays of the Township of Springwater, CO, says, “We can train people. We can give them the software, but they need to be on board with using it or you’re going to have more problems.”


“You have to try out this paper. It’s the way of the fut-”

2. Doing things the same way

Learning a new process is only half the battle—you have to unlearn the old process, too. Converting a paper-based process into a paperless process creates many opportunities for reengineering that will ultimately help your staff work faster and more efficiently.

For example, the Florida League of Cities automated its accounts payable process when it implemented enterprise content management (ECM). It used to take five steps to add an account number to the League’s various systems. With ECM, the League only has to make the change once and its ECM system takes care of everything else.

3. Not reducing paper at the start

There’s paperless, and then there’s paperless. One requires scanning a sheet of paper and then handling the rest of the process digitally. The other is not using paper at all.

An office that is determined to go paperless can create digital forms. By getting rid of paper at the very beginning of a process, you make even greater improvements by cutting out the task of scanning.

4. Continuing to keep paper files

Having a back-up is definitely a best practice in any organization. But unless you’re required by state or federal regulations to store the physical documents that have been accruing for decades, holding onto to all that paper is unnecessary and can inhibit company growth.

California Healthcare Medical Billing (CHMB) had so much paper that filing cabinets were used as walls between cubicles. After implementing ECM, it was able to free up space in the office. In fact, the organization regained enough space to add 150 new employees without having to relocate or pay for additional office space.

To learn how to maximize your digital files in a paperless office, download and read, How to Diagram Your Business Process.

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