The paper office is not efficient. By creating redundant layers of content management confusion, the paper office slows down all business processes that require some form of content to operate. However, most organizations still employ a workflow that goes something like: stare at a digital document dump, take multiple trips to the copier/scanner, upload files into folders, create multiple layers of subfolders, and try to create a content hierarchy that makes sense to shareholders, decision makers, and employees. That’s not a paperless process, but it sure is a wasteful one. SharePoint enables offices to truly go paperless by automating content management tasks in seconds.

There are 7 key ways in which you can support your vision of a becoming a paperless office with Sharepoint.

1. Say Goodbye to the Paper Approval Process

The paper document approval process is messy. A single document can travel up and down floors, between departments, and across the desk of many stakeholders.  If the process gets delayed with an approver it can take multiple phone calls and emails to identify who has the form.  A SharePoint Approval Workflow eliminates the journey of the paper document and lets you electronically route them to the right decision makers. You control and have insight into the whole approval process, including the automation of assignments and reminders, visibility to approval status and an archive of approved documents for auditing. Processes that took days or weeks can be completed in minutes or hours.  This workflow makes document approval a standardized business process that can be replicated repeatedly.

2. SharePoint Paperless Office Document Assembly

With the integration of Office 365 apps, paperless documents come together fast in the SharePoint environment. By developing libraries of common document assets, you can quickly assemble forms, presentations, contracts and other deliverables that can be then sent to the appropriate people. Spreadsheets, charts, and text documents can all be merged together into files that, when combined with Approval Workflow, give you instant signoff on the assembled document.

3. Paperless Digital Library

What happened to that document you made prepared two years ago and suddenly need to find and use again in the next ten minutes? Most likely, you’ll have to search through your file cabinet, check your emails, or look through a network of subfolders that you didn’t even know existed. SharePoint, with its enterprise search capabilities, lets you find – and even edit and share – that document in seconds. SharePoint supports clean curation and querying of documents across an enterprise. And as your document library expands, so will SharePoint.

4. SharePoint Paperless Office Document Collaboration

Document collaboration usually requires multiple authors and editors to provide content and feedback.  Sometimes, this requires document sharing with customers, vendors, or partners who may be outside of your organization. Traditionally this is handled via multiple printed copies or email attachments and the document owner must manually merge the changes back into a single document.  Cloud or hybrid deployments of SharePoint allow for documents to be shared with internal and external users. If the outside recipients use SharePoint, or have a Microsoft account, they can interact with your document directly, providing content and feedback simultaneously.  Collaboration happens faster with less effort by the document owner.

5. Efficient Paper Usage

Do your colleagues print everything so they can take it to meetings with them or review it away from their desk?  As a web-based system SharePoint is available from a variety of interfaces – desktops, laptops, tablets and conference room kiosks.  Start reading a document from your desk and finish it from a tablet during a meeting. Send meeting attendees links to agendas and presentations instead of printing handouts. You can cut down on the number of printers and complementary products (paper, ink, toner, support, and maintenance) required, saving your organization money while further working towards a more efficient, paperless business culture.

6. Increased Business Intelligence Operations

When document management becomes a digital process, it’s much easier to find insights as to how the process is performing.  Which documents are the most referenced? Who are your best content creators? Which document archives aren’t worth keeping? With a paper based environment, accurately assessing the efficiency of your content management is nearly impossible. SharePoint offers auditing and analytics into your paperless office operation, allowing you to generate reports on how to continue to improve the process.

7. The SharePoint Paperless Office and Painless Onboarding

Hiring new employees or taking on new accounts typically requires lots of forms that contain highly sensitive data. SharePoint speeds up this process by reducing the total amount of documentation required to onboard individuals and groups. With the ability to merge documents and obtain digital signatures, even the onboarding process can become largely automated through the SharePoint environment. Any forms, policies, procedures, or manuals can be stored in a dedicated library, further eliminating the need for paper documents that take too long to scan through. Data captured during the onboarding process can be used to automatically assign tasks and update related systems, reducing the risk of missed steps and data entry errors.

The SharePoint Paperless Office

The business case for going paperless is strong. General Networks can plan your deployment of SharePoint to support your vision of a paperless office and help you institute processes that automate your content management.

Contact us today to find out how you can boost your workflow, save money, and increase efficiency with a SharePoint powered paperless environment.