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World Paper Free Day: 5 Companies Making a Difference

By Anthony Macciola posted 10-28-2016 00:46


The concept of a paperless office originated as early as 1975 when Businessweek reported that the office was the last corporate holdout to automation. Businessweek cited a researcher from Arthur D. Little, Inc. who optimistically predicted that by 1990 we would have arrived at the paperless office. Yet every year US office workers continue to print out or photocopy approximately one trillion pieces of paper despite 42 percent of business executives agreeing that going paper-free improves productivity. As we participate in World Paper Free Day with the AIIM Community November 4, it’s important to highlight how far enterprises worldwide have come in streamlining automation and being “Paper-Free Heroes.” 

  1. Cetelem Slovakia’s goal is to be recognized as the most service-oriented finance partner for retailers. The company has gone almost fully paperless in processing loan agreements thanks to using a document management system. A major obstacle to paperless loan processing was the trustworthy capture of handwritten electronic signatures. Incorporating e-signature technology that was compliance based and used biometrics, Cetelem reduced paper consumption by 1.6 million sheets per year. Additional savings include the cost and time for printing, scanning, shipping and archiving.
  1. Sonae, a multinational corporation managing a wide portfolio of companies, needed a more efficient process for managing invoices for its retail holdings. In retail, effective invoice management is key to ensuring that suppliers are paid on time and that payment discounts are optimized. Sonae receives three million invoices from external suppliers and processes approximately 500,000 internal invoices per year. On average, the company receives and processes more than 10,000 invoices daily, most of which were paper-based. It moved to a paperless accounts payable process by using a document management platform and developing an electronic data interchange that allowed Sonae and its partners to exchange and record documents in a standard electronic format with no paper of people involved. It has achieved a 100 percent paperless process and a 75 percent touchless process in accounts payable. Sonae estimates it is saving more than 13 million Euros annually with paperless, touchless processes.
  1. Macquarie University Hospital is the first fully digital private hospital in Australia and the only private hospital on a university campus. Its vision was to create a paperless environment to effectively manage incoming clinical documentation and therefore required a fully integrated system to handle the capture and flow of patient related data. By mapping out its workflow processes to follow the inpatient journey within its business process management system, it is able to recognize scanned paper documents, handwritten notes and patient barcode labels. The hospital has created a complete digital environment that gives physicians the right patient information when they need it.
  1. Freight shipping provider, Trinity Logistics went paper-free when it automated its back office processes. It integrated with the IT systems of shippers, carriers and service providers and the various data and file formats each submitted such as invoices, proofs of delivery and other vital documents related to new loads, invoices and shipment status. By automating the capture of critical documents and integrating data into various systems, Trinity Logistics is able to close out 95 percent of supported shipments without any manual effort.
  1. Suncorp began its paperless journey when it automated its loan processing. At the peak of its paper consumption, a single loan file was hand carried among several team members – not very efficient when there were as many as 5,500 files at any given time. Suncorp extended the automated capture of documents and business workflows for its loan processing, human resources, and insurance and finance units. Most impactful was loan processing. Loan documents and supporting files such as tax returns, bank statements and paystubs are now submitted electronically eliminating paper files at desks. In addition to the costs associated with paper such as managing printers, document storage and toner costs, Suncorp loans increased processing by 30 percent. Suncorp also estimated the green benefits to sparing more than 400 trees from the axe and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere reduced by 80 tons. To mark the achievement, Suncorp staff joined in a paper plane flying competition and helped fill 48 large orange bins rolled in for a great paper cleanout.

Paper-free initiatives usually start with document management but it doesn’t end there. As organizations mature in their digital transformation journeys they are incorporating technologies that give them more actionable insight into processes, automate front-end processes with back-end processes and make it more convenient and faster for customers to initiate business or engage communications.  To learn more about “Paper-Free Heroes,” join AIIM November 4 at a virtual event for tips and tricks on how you can be paper free and more productive.