How Much Time Do You Spend On Document Storage?

By Mary Williams • September 25, 2014 at 7:00 AM

time spent on document storageTasks that revolve around handling, processing and storing documents are so common in the workplace that it’s easy to overlook how much time they actually take. The unspoken assumption is that these tasks are just intrinsic to doing business, and that other companies have similar tasks to manage.

But that’s not necessarily true: Your competitors could be saving hundreds of hours each month, and using that time to create business value and drive revenue, instead of pushing paper.

Here’s a scenario to consider: Let’s say that an organization stores 100 paper documents per day, and it takes three minutes to store each document. Each of these documents is photocopied for review and filing purposes, which takes an extra five minutes per document. In addition, your employees retrieve 20 documents per day, and it takes them approximately five minutes to search for each document. Let’s also say that 10 employees each spend 30 minutes per day preparing to route documents internally.

This document handling takes up a total of 361 hours, 40 minutes per month. That’s a huge amount of time and money, and much of it is unnecessary when compared to a digital document management solution.

And that’s only looking at the time spent when everything goes right — which is hardly ever the case. What about the costs when documents go missing and must be reproduced or recreated by employees?

Here are some of the hidden costs to consider as part of your document storage:

  1. Misplacing an invoice: Plenty of invoices go missing as they circulate through an organization for approvals, or they end up buried at the bottom of an approver’s inbox for weeks, resulting in potentially costly delays. If your approval process takes too long, you may not be able to benefit from early payment discounts, for example.
  2. Storing a document in the wrong place: At many organizations, especially those with paper filing systems, a document filed in the wrong place might as well be lost forever. If this is an order, you won’t be able to fill it, resulting in loss of revenue. If it’s a record that you need in the event of an audit or lawsuit, the cost to your business could be astronomical.Depending on the quality of your indexing and search capabilities, an electronic document management system may give you additional ways to retrieve this document that aren’t possible with paper documents.
  3. Using the wrong version of a document: A common time-waster occurs when an employee retrieves an outdated version instead of the latest document. Without a document management system that includes version control, this problem is likely to occur, resulting in lost productivity and other problems, such as poor customer service.
  4. Losing proof of warranties: Many routine purchases come with warranties, but these are useless unless you’re able to quickly retrieve the necessary documentation. If machinery or office equipment breaks down while still under warranty, but you can’t find the invoice, you’re going to have difficulty making your case to the vendor.
  5. Natural disasters: Whether the damage is caused by a fire, flood or hurricane, many companies never recover from natural disasters, and the loss of electronic or paper documents results in them going out of business.Without a good backup system, any document storage system is vulnerable. When you use cloud-based storage and backup, your files are kept safe through redundant copies stored at datacenters in different geographic areas. If your office is destroyed by a storm, for example, your information is safe in a facility that’s not affected by the same natural disaster.

Even when everything goes right, organizations spend a huge amount of time handling, storing and processing documents. Often, this time could be saved by implementing more efficient document management systems. Upgrading your system also helps you avoid the hidden costs that accrue when documents go missing.

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Topics: Workflow, Disaster Recovery, Team Productivity

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