By Nick Candito

Given that we’re now 17 years into the 21st century, it’s nothing short of staggering how many companies still use paper processes. According to The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), 92% of companies say that removing paper processes is a constant objective.

Given the inefficiency of paper processes compared to digital processes, this is quite shocking.

It’s even scarier when you consider the tremendous amount of data staring us in the face every day and the universe-shattering shift to a big-data world now occurring in most industries.

What all this means is that if there was ever a time to digitally streamline your operations, it’s NOW.

But to change, we need to change the perspective of users stuck in their “culture of paper”. In many companies the paper trail serves as a de facto process audit and may even be a necessary part of controlling processes. However, paper is almost useless for managing the integrity and reliability of data across multiple teams.

The case of going paperless is not only worth it but essential. Millennials are becoming the workforce standard as the baby boomers leave. The world is changing and so is the competition, and you need to keep up.

Here are the 5 main ways going paperless will help your business:

1.) Information Security

It’s kind of odd that so many companies use security as a reason NOT to go paperless. They fear hackers, data leaks, and cyber attacks. While these are legitimate fears, and no system is completely and 100% secure, there are in fact various compelling reasons why digital processes are far safer than paper processes.

  • First, with digitized processes, identity governance and access controls ensure only the right people can access certain documents and systems.
  • Second, data security makes it much easier and less expensive to maintain compliance with regulations such as HIPAA and SOX that require companies to take documented measures to maintain data confidentiality and integrity.
  • Third, digitalization allows companies to easily back up crucial information. Digital documents can be protected in ways paper documents can’t, such as remotely via the cloud or an off-site hard drive.

2.) Accessibility

Think of how much time is spent searching for a document on your desk or in a binder compared to a computer file? When the right content is accessible at the touch of a button, it takes only seconds to route and share documents to any number of people across multiple departments and systems.

This ease of access greatly improves efficiency in a variety of contexts, such as approval workflows, and mobile, tablet or offline access translates into speed and agility. Your competitors are only going to get faster, and the agility that a paperless process gives you is vital to remaining competitive.

3.) Adherence

There’s no question that digitization improves collaboration. When everyone can access the essential documents and consistently collect the right information for the right person when it’s needed, you’re greasing the wheels of your intra-company communication engine. You’re also creating a proven record and a way to improve your collaboration processes upon dint of being able to review them.

4.) Real-time Visibility

Think of the classic filing cabinet locked up with the tiny key slipped away into the bottom drawer of someone’s mahogany desk. It’s the picture of lack of real-time visibility.

Using digital instead of paper workflows allows management to monitor your business and key collaborations in real time and with a view into analyzing bottlenecks to improve them and hence improve results. This makes it easier to keep tasks on track and to identify problems and opportunities for improvement.

Each assigned task not only contains the business information defined in the process but also presents data about the given business outcome (ie, the audit, incident, approval, on-boarding, etc).

5.) Optimized Performance

Ultimately what you’re shooting for in going paperless is an improved customer experience and hence an improved bottom line. If you improve collaboration, security, adherence, and visibility, there’s no way your customers won’t benefit from it. Savings will be passed on to them, and a better understanding of the way you operate will lead to new insights into how to better serve your customers, leading to increased revenue.

And in the end, this is what Operational Performance Management (OPM) is about – weaving people, systems and performance together in a way that supports the entire business ecosystem. That’s why businesses need OPM now more than ever, and why cloud-based OPM is becoming an essential ingredient of all successful operations.

Nick Candito is Cofounder and CEO at Progressly, championing the company’s mission towards helping our customers transform the way they do business. He previously served as RelateIQ’s Head of User Success & Business Operations, which was acquired by in August 2014 as the first automatic and intelligent CRM solution.