Guest Column | November 14, 2011

Is Paperless Really The Answer


Compiled by Vicki Amendola, editor of ECM Connection

"Hey! We're going paperless!" Yeah, right. And I've got a big bridge that I'd like to sell you, too. The paperless battle cry has lost its effect for most audiences, and rightly so. For the most part, we create more paper in our society today, not less. The good news, however, is that we have been able to take some of the paper-handling load out of some of our most labor-intensive processes, such as in AP (accounts payable) and claims processing. The continued evolution of document scanning and capture technology has seen to that.

Over the intervening years we have certainly made more attempts to go paperless than at any time since the stone tablet, but the fact is that we are still converting mountains of paper into digital images at an astounding rate and will continue to do so for years to come. As always, there have been changes to what we scan and for what reasons. With continuous improvements in technology, the evolution and commoditization of scanners, and improvements in data recognition software, the breadth of document types that can be scanned and classified has expanded. However, other formerly high volume paper sources have diminished; paper checks being one example where we have seen a steady drop in volume in recent years. Additionally, with the advent and wide use of email and other electronically sourced documents and the proliferation of web-based commerce, the amount of paper that will need to be scanned will surely continue to decline, even though that decline may be mitigated for some time as we continue the task of converting all the old back files that fill warehouses, closets, and other storage facilities.