More companies are reducing paper, cutting costs and seeing ROI but many more opportunities exist especially in process automation.
A growing number of companies, especially large organizations, are finally making some real progress in reducing paper documents and forms from their business processes. Much of this reduction appears to be focused on near-term document storage cost reductions and on improving document access, according to a recent survey by AIIM.
The survey of 477 individual members of AIIM was conducted between Nov. 2011 and Jan. 2012. It showed that companies are increasingly using electronic data capture and scanning technologies to reduce their dependence on paper. Such scanning and capture is key to process automation and is a linchpin of all accounts payable and other financial transformation projects.
Close to one in four of all companies surveyed by AIIM said they scan more than half of their incoming documents upon arrival. More than 40 percent of these companies have established at least the beginnings of an all digital mailroom. Meanwhile, about 25 percent of the companies in the survey said they do the scanning when a document enters a specific process department while close to 30 percent scanned half or more of their paper documents in the post-process phase.
According to AIIM, companies are turning to electronic data capture and scanning primarily to enable better document searches and document sharing. Other major drivers included reduced storage costs, faster response times and regulatory compliance. More than 20 percent of the large enterprises in the AIIM survey also identified reduced postage costs, and reduced transportation and document logistics as major reasons for adopting electronic document capture and scanning technologies. About 22 percent of the smaller businesses surveyed meanwhile said that one of their primary drivers was to enable better remote access to enterprise documents.
A majority of those surveyed said that document scanning and capture technologies had improved the speed at which they responded to customers, business partners and their own staff, by six times or more. Companies that funneled all their incoming mail through a digital mailroom reported even greater improvements in their ability to search for, share, and access corporate documents.
The AIIM survey also showed that companies could save significant storage space by moving to electronic-only document filing. More than 60 percent of the businesses surveyed said they currently use between 2 percent and 15 percent of their office space on paper storage. Most of these companies expect to reduce their storage space requirements by as much as 50 percent, and cut back on their operational costs by eight percent over the next five years, simply by moving to all-electronic document filing.
Interestingly, close to 50 percent of all the documents that were electronically captured were scanned exactly as they came out of the printer suggesting there was little need for a paper output in the first place. For instance, though a growing number of companies have begun electronically transmitting invoices in the form of a PDF file or a fax, more than 80 percent of these invoices were printed out on paper and then fed back into a scanner again. A majority of the remaining documents were also near-exact replicas of the original printed output, except for the addition of a hand-written signature.
Somewhat disappointingly, most organizations are still continuing to scan documents for the somewhat narrow purposes of archiving and routing documentsto appropriate departments. A majority of companies do not yet appear to view electronic document capture and content management technologies as key enablers of broader process automation. In fact, only 37 percent of the organizations that were surveyed, or less than one in four companies, actually captured text and data from scanned documents and fed it back into a business process for accomplishing tasks such as accounts payable transformation.
Importantly, the survey showed that while pre-process scanning can help reduce paper-handling costs dramatically, it does not eliminate paper costs entirely. The survey showed that companies on average still spend $3.50 on each paper form before it becomes an image file. Even paper forms and documents that are scanned incur costs such as those related to preparation, printing, mailing, distribution and sorting, the AIIM survey noted. Such costs can be eliminated only when companies go to direct electronic data entry and e-forms.
On average, companies that implemented document scanning and capture technologies reported returns on investment in 18 months or less. About 42 percent reported a payback period of 12 months or less while more half reported an 18-month period. Companies that did a lot of back-scanning of old documents generally took longer to report a payback compared to companies that adopted a “day-forward” approach to using the technologies, AIIM noted.
Yakidoo solutions and services make it possible for companies to capture and digitize unstructured data found in paper invoices, waybills, insurance claims etc and other formats such as email, fax and PDF documents. Yakidoo On-Premise, Managed and Cloud Solutions extract the data from these scanned documents and pass it on to backend ERP systems, content management systems and other core line of business applications.
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