AIIM Research Report "Paper-Free Progress – Measuring Outcomes"

Cost saving seems to be the initial driver for converting processes to paper-free, but improved accessibility, shorter process cycle times and better compliance are in strong evidence as soft benefits. The message that paper-free is best practice seems to have reached the attention of business advisors, regulators and even governments. Senior management in most organizations can see the potential for business improvement, albeit that lack of endorsement from the top is given as the biggest reason for lack of progress, according to the findings in the latest AIIM industry watch “Paper-Free Progress – Measuring Outcomes”.

The new report, authored by AIIM and underwritten by Swiss Post Solutions, was conducted between August and September this year and attracted more than 350 respondents. Spanning organizations from 11 to 5,000+ employees, the survey secured responses from a wide range of vertical markets with local and central government accounting for more than 30%.

Some of the reports key findings:

  • Only 17% of respondents work in what could be described as a paper-free office
  • The biggest driver for data capture is improved “searchability” and “shareability”
  • For those with mobile capture, speed of data availability and lack of paper are the biggest benefits
  • 41% are using OCR in some form. 23% are capturing process data including 9% using intelligent/ adaptive workflows
  • Already 11% are  using cloud products for capture, and 17% have plans in the next 12-18 months

It is often said that “people like paper” and this is given as a strong reason (49%) for there being so much paper in business. However, an equal number give the lack of management initiatives or mandates in this area as the biggest reason and, despite several campaigns to educate business on paper-free benefits, 39% feel there is a lack of understanding of paper-free options.

Making progress towards paper-free processes needs to be seen as a continuous improvement campaign, with the policy that every process should be reviewed for the potential to drive out paper. 16% of the responding organizations do this. For the largest organizations, this rises to 19% with a pro-active policy. Compared to the 2014 survey, the number of organizations with a pro-active policy has increased from 9% to 16%, and those with a paper-only view has dropped from 11% to 9%.

In general, contract management and legal processes are showing the biggest increase in paper, and the respondents are evidently struggling to achieve reductions here. On the other hand, accounts payable is showing the next biggest increase, but is also the best candidate for paper reduction. Records management, accounts receivable and, in particular, technical documentation are also good candidates for reduction.

The 30-page report takes an in-depth look at the amount of paper in the office and the impediments to removing it. Above all, the report focuses on the progress towards paper-free processes, the triggers and decision-making processes, and the issues, benefits and ROI. The AIIM industry watch paper “Paper-Free Progress – Measuring Outcomes” is available here.

About AIIM

AIIM has been an advocate and supporter of information professionals for 70 years. The association’s mission is to ensure that information professionals understand the current and future challenges of managing information assets in an era of social, mobile, cloud and big data. Founded in 1943, AIIM builds on a strong heritage of research and member service. Today, AIIM is a global, non-profit organization that provides independent research, education and certification programs to information professionals. AIIM represents the entire information management community, with programs and content for practitioners, technology suppliers, integrators and consultants.

About Swiss Post Solutions (SPS)

Swiss Post Solutions (SPS) is a leading outsourcing provider for business processes solutions and innovative services in document management. A strong international client base relies on SPS’ ability to envision, design and build end-to-end solutions and to be its trusted advisor for the key value drivers in BPO: location strategy, process optimization and technology, such as intelligent automation. Part of the Swiss Post Group headquartered in Bern, Switzerland, SPS’ 7500 employees and specialized partners span the full range of the industry – from insurance, banking, telecommunications, media, retail to energy supply and travel & transportation – addressing customer needs in more than 20 countries.

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