Paper filing systems are a key tool in every office. Whether yours is a drawer in your desk, many banks of file cabinets or an electronic document system there is a tangible cost to setting up, equipping and using filing systems.
So where does this show up on your budget? It usually doesn't. It is part of general administration and this is why most businesses do not give it a lot of attention.
There is a better way to look at paper filing however. Consider it part of your business process...a key tool in informing, invoicing and nurturing your customers. After all why do you create the documents anyway? If you think about it broadly then they will fall into one of the three categories above, all critical parts of customer communication.
So what does this system cost you? First it takes time for employees to build (BT), produce (PT) and store (ST) documents. Next it takes time to send them to customers (communication (CT)) and prospects. Finally it takes time to manage (MT) the records created. This is all part of the cost of your filing system.
One additional cost also occurs. This is the cost of retrieval (RT) when an inquiry, audit or other demand makes it necessary for you to pull a historical record.
Add up all of these costs:
BT+PT+ST+CT+MT+RT=Document Filing Cost For Each Document.
Multiply this individual document cost by the number of documents created each day and you can see it is a considerable number. So how do you impact it? The only way is to address each component of the cost.
BT-build time is reduced by using templates and repeatable forms
PT-production time is reduced by eliminating paper, using electronic transmissions, using standard processes
ST-storage time can be reduced by using electronic storage and retrieval
CT-communication time can be reduced by using electronic instead of paper systems and electronic transmission vs mail
MT-management time can be reduced by creating an organized structure for records, one that is easily searched
RT-retrieval time can be reduced by using an organized electronic storage system
Little changes on each of these levels can lead to big changes in overall cost. One of the best ways to impact most of them is to implement an electronic filing system or document management system. Of the six components identified, three of them will be positively impacted by the use of a structured electronic document management system. The ROI from such an investment is considerable when the real costs of paper filing are understood.
So how do you implement and properly cost such a change? That's part two of the paper filing analysis...I'll give you some tips on that in the next installment.