The Hidden Costs of Paper Record Keeping

Learn how going paperless helps your business save.

Searching through a filing cabinet full of files

Savvy business owners are always looking for new ways to save money and increase their bottom line. But in the quest to trim the fat, many overlook the potential savings that can come from modernizing their business’s record-keeping practices.

And honestly, that’s not surprising. Record-keeping is typically seen as a mundane necessity, a side effect of doing business that companies adapt to rather than actively seek to improve.

After years of relying on physical documents and manual processes, habits form, and paper becomes an integral part of day-to-day operations. And once you fall into that rut, it can be hard to dig your way out.

For most, the idea of going paperless sounds appealing, but the process itself is perceived as difficult and time-consuming, leaving many business owners wondering if its even worth the effort.

The truth is, storing your business’s records on paper can be surprisingly expensive. And the cost of transitioning to digital record-keeping? It’s probably a lot less than you might think.

The purpose of this article is to highlight these hidden expenses and explore the benefits of storing some, if not all, of your records digitally.

In the next section, we’ll highlight the not-so-obvious costs involved in storing your records on paper. Later, we’ll discuss how going digital, even partially, can help your business save a significant amount of money.

The High Cost of Physical Document Storage

The costs associated with storing paper documents can add up quickly, often in ways that aren’t immediately apparent.

First, consider the wasted space involved. Typically, businesses store their records by lining the walls of their office with filing cabinets, which is arguably the most efficient way to to organize and store paper records. But as we all know, space isn’t cheap. In fact, its a cost that only ever goes up, not down.

Consider this thought experiment: Office space costs, on average, $30 per square foot. A standard 4-drawer filing cabinet takes up around 17 square feet of space, including the additional room needed to access the files inside. That means that an office with just four filing cabinets wastes 68 square feet of office space for document storage, costing approximately $2,040 per year.

The office supplies involved with paper record-keeping also contribute to unnecessary costs. This includes things like ink, printers, folders, and other materials needed to work with these documents. And don’t expect your employees to conserve these resources either. The average worker uses 10,000 sheets of office paper per year, even though nearly half of all of those documents will be discarded within 24 hours. This represents a lot of paper and a lot of waste for your business.

Managing physical records is also labor-intensive. Each time an employee needs to access a record, they must search for, retrieve, use, and then manually return the documents to their rightful place. This process is time-consuming, and that time costs your business money.

Finally, paper documents pose security risks that can lead to unforeseen costs for your business. While there’s no guarantee that your business will encounter these issues, mistakes are easy to make when dealing with paper. Lost or misplaced records can cause compliance issues and reputational damage, which quickly turn into financial problems. Paper documents are also vulnerable to a range of threats, such as natural disasters, theft, or damage from incidents like a burst pipe. The potential cost implications of any of these scenarios can be significant, especially if you don’t have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place.

So what can you do? For many businesses, these risks provide compelling reasons to consider eliminating paper. But what are the advantages? Is it worth it?

Storing Documents Digitally Can Help You Save

One way businesses can address the challenges and costs associated with physical document storage is by kicking paper to the curb. Switching to an electronic record keeping system can help your business:

Use Office Space More Efficiently

One of the most obvious benefits of digital storage is eliminating the need for physical filing cabinets and storage rooms, freeing up valuable office real estate that can be used however you see fit. That means no more paying month after month for expensive square footage, just so that you can store piles of paper. Instead, you can use that space for revenue-generating activities or to create a more comfortable work environment for your employees.

Cut Down On Office Supplies

No more spending hours ordering supplies online or making trips to office supply stores. Going paperless eliminates the need for paper, ink, toner, printers, folders, and filing accessories, cutting out these recurring costs and leading to substantial savings over time. Plus, reducing paper usage cuts down on the trash you generate, the clutter it creates, and ultimately decreases your business’s environmental footprint, a bonus for those mindful of sustainability.

Stop Wasting Time

Managing your records electronically means that when your employee needs a record, they can pull it up via text search in just a few seconds, rather than having to walk to the other side of the office to sift through filing cabinets. This gives your employees more time to focus on important tasks, boosting overall productivity and reducing frustration. It also means that you can automate mundane tasks, alleviating your employees from having to do them.

Improve Security and Compliance

Digital documents are easier to secure than physical ones. Advanced security features such as encryption, password protection, and access controls help protect sensitive information from unauthorized access. Regular backups ensure that data is not lost due to hardware failures or other issues. Digital storage also simplifies compliance with regulatory requirements, as it is easier to track and manage access to documents, ensuring that you remain compliant with data protection laws.

Reduce the Risk of Data Loss

Digital storage solutions mitigate many of the risks associated with physical documents. Electronic documents are not susceptible to physical damage from natural disasters, theft, or accidents like a burst pipe. Cloud storage solutions offer robust disaster recovery options, ensuring that your data remains safe and accessible even in the event of an unforeseen incident.

Scale Efficiently

As your business grows, so does your need for storage. Digital storage solutions are highly scalable, allowing you to expand your storage capacity without the need for additional physical space. You only pay for the storage you need, making it a flexible and cost-effective solution that can easily adapt to your business’s changing requirements.

Promote Employee Collaboration

Digital documents facilitate better collaboration among employees. Multiple people can access and work on the same document simultaneously from different locations, improving teamwork and reducing delays. This is particularly beneficial for businesses with remote teams or multiple office locations.

Reduced Labor Costs

By eliminating the need for manual filing and retrieval, digital storage reduces the labor costs associated with managing physical documents. Automated workflows and document management systems further streamline processes, freeing up employee time for more strategic tasks.

Hybrid Storage Solutions

In some industries, there is simply no way to avoid using paper. In these cases, businesses often take a mixed approach, using both physical and digital solutions to store their data where it suits them most.

Hybrid storage combines the advantages of both on-premises and cloud storage. This approach allows organizations to keep important or sensitive data on-premises, while using the cloud to store less critical or infrequently accessed data in a scalable and cost-effective way.

Hybrid storage strikes a balance between control and flexibility, allowing businesses to tailor their storage systems to their specific needs. By using the cloud for less important data, businesses can reduce costs while still ensuring that critical data is secure and easily accessible. Hybrid storage can serve as a good entry point to digital records management for businesses, offering a gradual transition from physical to digital storage.

Wrapping Things Up

Both physical and digital storage solutions come with their own set of costs, however, digital storage typically offers significant advantages in terms of scalability, efficiency, and long-term savings. But for many businesses, the task of scanning all those documents and choosing a document management system to manage them is too big or a project to take on alone.

At SecureScan, we can help by handling the scanning and indexing process on your behalf. Whether you want to go fully digital or take a hybrid approach, we are here to assist with planning and provide advice throughout the process. Drawing on more than 21 years of experience serving businesses throughout the Northeast, we eliminate the most common hurdles businesses face when modernizing their recordkeeping systems.

If you’re thinking of going paperless, contact us for more information about the process, or get a customized quote for your project from one of our scanning technicians. Then sit back, relax, and leave the scanning to us.

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