MISSION VIEJO, CA — “We’ve always done it that way” is a simple six word phrase that can single handedly stifle innovation, put a halt to progress, chip away at profitability and jeopardize your competitive edge. Unless you’re preparing and selling pizza using your great grandmother’s time tested recipe, there aren’t many business processes that can’t be improved by the use of technology. Certainly the cost savings and efficiency improvements resulting from replacing the use of paper for documenting every single transaction occurring in your business deserves attention.
Formless printing, which entails the digital storage of blank and completed forms in a computer system, is indeed a cost cutting measure that transcends just the price of paper. In addition to the basic costs associated with printing your business forms on paper, there are additional costs for storing the forms, moving the forms to wherever they are needed and administrative and operational overhead of just managing them, whether running a single site or a multi-location business. Not to mention the staggering costs to efficiency of manually searching for that one piece of paper that documents a business transaction.
In a business climate where change is one of the only features we can count on, what happens to those stacks of boxes of preprinted forms when an area code or buying group or e-mail address or government regulation changes and requires a reprint? They end up in a dumpster — and that’s like throwing away boxes full of dollar bills.
Rather than naively hoping that changes won’t occur, or agonizing over whether or not to continue using forms that contain outdated information, paperless forms allow edits in a matter of minutes at virtually no cost. You become the master of your forms, rather than a slave to paper. When needed, the form along with your business data, can be printed on plain paper, typically using a laser printer.
“Going paperless” is not a daunting or overwhelming task. One parts distributor with ten outlets in a major metropolitan area using 5,000 invoices per day at each site was formerly using paper at a rate that required a forklift to transport the daily documentation in the storage warehouse, until they went paperless. Now that is a daunting picture of overhead, especially when you need to find a single piece of paper in those stacks. But real savings aren’t limited to only firms of that size. Regardless of business size, retrieving a stored paper form is a productivity drain and going paperless will eliminate searching though file cabinets in favor of doing a quick and easy keyboard search in your business system. For long term storage and retrieval there are several options available, such as additional disk space (which is inexpensive these days), optical disks or CD’s.
Once you’ve made the commitment to go paperless, your business and your computerized business management system supplier can partner to accomplish the whole process in less than a month. Payback on the investment of software and laser printers for your paperless system can occur surprisingly quickly, usually within months. Any size organization can do the math by calculating the price per invoice times the number of forms used per month and comparing the result with the cost of a paperless system.
Want a good tip about paying for this technology? Several DST clients, using our paperless technology called TurboForm, are including digital manufacturer logos, which can be easily added or changed, to their electronic forms — and receiving co-op advertising funds. TurboForm has become such a big hit that 100 pecent of new clients include the option when placing their system order. As one client said, “Investing in a new system without paperless technology would be like buying a new car without seatbelts.”
Veterans of the paperless revolution soon realize that, in addition to achieving the initial printing and storage cost cutting goals, the system becomes an informational and communication productivity tool. Electronic signature capture and storage provide a means of conforming to business and governmental regulations for proof of delivery. The professional appearance of electronically generated forms is noted by customers to enhance the image of the business.
And perhaps best of all, technology exists that facilitates e-faxing and e-mailing paperless documents directly from your system, saving time, postage and staff interruptions. Integrated e-fax and e-mail applications expedite inbound and outbound communication by automating the distribution and exchange of paperless invoices, invoice reprints, statements, pickers, packers, quotes, service estimates and service invoices directly from your computerized business management system. Automatically generate and distribute reports via e-mail to key personnel, thus eliminating the time spent sorting and tearing pages or sections of collated documents destined to different individuals.
E-faxing software will edit, send, receive, display, print and track fax documents or images. Faxes can be displayed on the computer monitor without the need for printing and can be sent right away, scheduled for off-hours, consolidated with other faxes, or sent to multiple destinations using easily maintained phone number lists or distribution lists. Inbound fax documents, such as orders, are brought into a receive queue and then can be quickly copied, routed, refaxed, viewed, downloaded or printed. Notes may be added to each received page that can be read or appended by anyone viewing the fax.
A particularly useful and efficient benefit of both paperless e-mail and e-fax is the ability of the user to resolve questions and issues in real-time. For example, while handling a telephone inquiry regarding a lost or missing invoice, a copy of the paperless document can be e-mailed or faxed while the conversation is taking place.
“We’ve always done it that way” can easily be replaced by “We’re now doing things smarter” as the motto of your organization.
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“DST Asks” is written and sponsored by DST Inc. The opinions expressed in “DST Asks” articles appearing on aftermarketNews.com do not necessarily reflect the opinions of AMN or Babcox Publications.