Hard as it may be for some to believe, some folks still resist the notion of going paperless, even in today’s modern office environments. Those with long business tenures have developed a certain attachment to the paper trail of invoices, document approval procedures, organized paper filings, and the like. Modern ERP systems like Microsoft Dynamics NAV and others are quickly making paper documents largely a thing of the past.
Thus, it’s important that business managers take appropriate steps to going paperless that will gently suppress the resistance that sometimes emerges. Recently, a white paper published by Metafile Information Systems, which bills itself as “an independent provider of paperless document management applications,” put forward their five approaches to doing just that, which we’ve reprised below.
- Deploy Paperless ERP in its out-of-the-box form, without customizations. It’s easy to lose control of the paperless chase when everyone involved has their own idea about the customizations they “absolutely have to have.” Trying to understand every such nuance can seriously complicate and delay implementation. At least in the early going, keep it simple, and keep it simply “out-of-the-box.”
- Crawl before you try to walk, run or fly. Don’t subject your AP department to a huge change in processes all at once. Begin with the basics, ensuring paper documents are scanned into the system where they can be managed, stored and routed more easily than paper.
- Don’t confuse Paperless ERP with the “paperless office.” Don’t scare folks with comments like “employees will never be able to touch paper again.” Let people feel free to print out those documents they feel necessary (to take to meetings, etc.) – just make sure the paper versions are supplemental to the digital, and not the other way around.
- Don’t overcomplicate your relationship with paper-based vendors. While large companies may have mastered EDI transmissions, don’t assume many of your smaller suppliers have – because, we can assure you, they haven’t! However, with merely a recent version of Microsoft Word, anyone can save a document as a PDF, and all that’s required to send a PDF is an attachment to an email.
- Avoid resistance from approvers in other departments by keeping the process standardized. If a customized approval process requires, say, that only a work PC be used for approvals, users can find themselves “simplified” into limited access. If access is available via the Web for example, they “do not need to worry about maintaining different software for occasional approvals outside the office and can use simple mobile devices for approval.” Managers using dashboards can then have more visibility into the business from wherever they may be at the moment.
At our firm — and for many of our clients – going paperless has been one of the quickest ROI turnarounds of any in the ERP process. As we’ve written about in previous posts, the elimination of paper invoices, POs and related documents results in an immediate and meaningful cost savings that today is within the realm of virtually every business. Better still, it’s a cost savings that comes very cheaply, and it’s there for anyone who wants it with most of today’s more modern ERP systems. Just ask your provider!