Document Digitization: The Hero our Industry Deserves?

Going Paperless… that would be the dream.

Mother Earth would definitely be thankful for one.

I mean, we’re all still literally wiping our butts with the Amazon rainforest on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean we should also have to wipe our cracks on nature’s face with your source documents either, does it? Basically because most of them already look like crap. But I digress…We should tackle one problem at a time and keep this “profesh.”

So, picking up where we left off the other day, we went over how the legal profession (specifically, but not limited to it) is, still today,  one of the most document-heavy industries around.

For hundreds of years, lawyers have been dealing with endless piles and reams of paper towering over their petty desks like unstable model skyscrapers, printing indictments and lengthy cases non stop, posting out client letters and wordy submissions on end, faxing unnecessary document copies, and producing voluminous legal tomes that no one ever fully reads through.

So with all the documents we receive in digital form these days – from emails to text messages, electronic documents, PDFs and online banking transactions – why convert them to paper in the first place? More importantly, what does “paperless” really mean and what benefits could it bring to your business?

Well, many law firms around the world are starting to find ways to cut down on ‘physical’ files and paper reams. Progressive industry players have begun to save trees and cut overheads all at once with the new paperless model, particularly popular among sole practitioners and small firms.

Theoretically, (and some smaller companies have already proved this to be true in actual practice), moving to a paperless modus operandi can improve their existing workflow system as well as contribute to saving the environment, and money, (another form of paper) at the same time.

So, does making the bold decision of tossing the paper in the bin mean paper is now completely redundant?

The most difficult challenge some of these brave companies had to undergo was dealing with the “human element,” which included addressing the psychological attachment we all have to paper. Old school employees cling to paper viciously as they cling to their morning newspapers over breakfast. But the transition shouldn’t be that dramatic.

What we are really talking about here is a shift from a basic paper file to an electronic one. It’s not about becoming entirely paperless; it’s about reinventing the workflow process digitally. The focus should not be on removing every piece of paper from the office, but rather on shifting towards improving access to information, reducing physical storage requirements and increasing overall productivity and efficiency.

Once everything is stored electronically, our future options for using that information for the benefit of our clients will increase as our need for paper will decrease proportionally. And with the increasing help of technology, this transition should now be easier than ever.

But while technology allows innovation, we all know that traditional companies (much like our own sometimes) often resist change and disruption out of fear of the unknown. “Why fix what isn’t broken?” usually becomes their motto and business battle cry.

So once you get to know the reasons that make going paperless a more efficient approach towards managing your business, and you’ve finally been able to put all your fears to rest, the next inevitable question is: How exactly can it be done?

Tune in next time to find out more.