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Author's profile photo Valeria Vinclair

An end to paperwork: Five advantages of the paperless office and how an ERP system helps with its introduction

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Note. Image made on Canva. Background image by Ljupco from Getty Images. (https://www.canva.com/media/MAC4LhmA0iE)

Metres of files, dusty archives and lots of printer ink. Paperless offices promise an end to paper in the company. In a paperless office, paper documents are completely replaced by IT-supported processes. Accordingly, in a paperless office all documents of a company are processed, stored and transmitted in electronic form. So far, according to a study, only 4 % of employees use a paperless office.

We explain how a paperless office pays off for your company and why only an ERP system makes your paperless office a viable solution.

Faster access to historical records

Especially in larger companies, where a lot of data is usually produced and managed, there is a great danger that mountains of files will accumulate at some point. Files are often kept in separate archives, but this makes it much more difficult for employees to access them. Thanks to digital and central data storage, a company’s documents can be made completely available to all employees. And in real time, without tedious searching in an archive.

Search & find information across departments

By digitizing documents, you lay the groundwork for effectively searching for specific information across different records. If files are available in digital form, it is easy to search them with a search function and find the desired information within a short time. Furthermore, digitised documents can be stored centrally in a database. This avoids the creation of data silos that can lead to incongruities between departments. For example, an order is not processed because logistics has not yet received the order and reordered goods. The necessary documents must first travel from one department to another in the company and that costs time.

Automate processes

In the paperless office, documents become data. This creates the prerequisite for the automation of processes. In accounting, many documents are necessary that are created between you, your customers, your suppliers and other actors. If documents are available digitally, they can be processed automatically in the ERP system. This saves working time, rework due to errors in data entry and, last but not least, a lot of printed paper.

Mobile access to documents and data

Employees on the road have no access to the documents in the office. In the paperless office, things are different. Via a web interface, employees log in at any time from anywhere with any internet-enabled device and retrieve necessary data. With location-independent data access, there is no longer a conflict between mobility and productivity. All employees have the same work opportunities, regardless of whether they are in the office, in the home office or travelling.

Making virtual collaboration more efficient

Increasingly, teams are not in the same place. They also work together virtually via the internet. However, if documents are needed for this collaboration, they first have to be sent out at great expense. In the paperless office, these logistics are eliminated. All team members can access the documents from any location. The same applies to collaboration with partners. A company can give external parties access to relevant documents, which leads to much more productive collaboration.

Introduce a paperless office: How ERP systems help

Introducing a paperless office is easier said than done. Especially in larger companies, the conversion from paper to electronic data often proves to be a mammoth task that should not be underestimated. Companies that rely on ERP systems such as SAP Business One and SAP Business ByDesign find the changeover easier. They help you automate processes in the company by integrating all areas in the company.

An ERP system thus forms the basis for an effective paperless office. The networking of all areas avoids data silos and creates the basis for effective data and document exchange. Without an ERP system, you can work with digital documents in many places, but both creation and transfer will not benefit. Data would then still have to be retrieved and sent manually.

SAP Business One and SAP Business ByDesign are also modular. For both ERP systems, there are therefore viable solutions for setting up a largely paperless office. From the document management system to electronic signatures and the automated processing of documents, for example in accounting.

Do you have questions about going paperless and how SAP solutions can help you? Or do you have experiences that you would like to share with other small and medium-sized enterprises? Then join the discussion in the community: https://community.sap.com/topics/smb.

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      Author's profile photo Justin Borders
      Justin Borders

      Hi Valeria,

      Thanks for the informative post! I found it really interesting that only 4% of employees are in a paperless office. Considering the times, one would think it might be more!

      Author's profile photo Valeria Vinclair
      Valeria Vinclair
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Justin!

      I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. I was surprised as well when I came across this study. But according to the citation, the survey was conducted in 2018 hence the result was on a pre-pandemic level. But as you said, given the current situation, it might be more! And without a doubt, I agree to that. I’m trying to find a more recent study --- a survey that has been conducted last year or just a few months ago so that I may update the data.

      Thank you.