The paperless office is a growing trend in both federal and private business. Paper documentation is far more expensive than most realize, and as online document management systems continue to improve, it’s an option that many companies are beginning to view as a necessary investment. Aside from the the cost of the paper itself, there are costs associated with the entire lifecycle of a paper document.
The Hidden Cost of Paper Documents
The only way to understand the true cost is to look at the numbers. An average office of one hundred workers will use fifty tons of papers in a year. This breaks down to ten thousand sheets per employee. A fair estimate considering the size of most business documents is several sheets. This creates a yearly cost of nearly thirty thousand dollars on just the product itself. The hidden cost comes in when the printed documents are used for other things.
Faxes: Faxes equate to roughly forty percent of a business’s monthly phone expenses. Considering a yearly phone cost of sixty thousand dollars that means twenty four thousand of that is in fax expenses. Five percent of paper documents end up being faxed. The average office will send half a million sheets by fax per year. Also fax machines have upkeep and repair costs.
Mail: Mail equates to half a million pages per year shipped. Working under the assumption of ten pages per letter that is fifty thousand letters mailed every year. The use of mail instead of online document management has a far greater overhead. The cost of shipping materials and shipment fees add up quickly as well.
Storage: Storage is a hidden cost that most businesses don’t consider. Storage fees add up quietly because storage is largely passive. Most files have to be kept five to seven years depending on the industry. It has been estimated it would take one hundred filing cabinets to hold one year’s worth of paper use. The more storage space needed, the higher a company’s rental costs. The average filing cabinet is three by three square feet. The amount of storage space needed tends to grow yearly without some form of archiving. According to industry studies it costs two thousand dollars a year to maintain a single filing cabinet.
The Advantages of Online Document Management
Speed and Shipping Costs: Email doesn’t require shipping charges, materials, or delivery time. A scanned pdf copy of a document can be emailed anywhere and received in seconds. This helps cut down on printing redundant copies for communication. Also one email can be sent to several different recipients in several different places, at the same time.
Archiving: It has been estimated that fourteen thousand dollars of productivity is lost yearly per employee because they can’t find needed data. Companies also incorrectly file roughly twenty percent of documents. An online searchable database is far easier to search. Hours of work digging trough cabinets are reduced to minutes with a keyword search. Also file data servers have fees they tend to be far lower then renting spacing for hundreds of filling cabinets.
Online Document Management offers several advantages over paper in terms of costs and storage. The true cost of paper is often hidden within the daily maintenance of such materials. After the initial purchase there are costs on printing, shipment, upkeep, and storage. These costs add up quickly for larger companies that deal in high volumes of data. Also sensitive information has long term storage cost that have to be considered. The costs of lost worker productivity due to misfiled documents adds up. The usage of online document management allows for storage costs reduction and an ease of data referencing.