Benefits of Going Paperless in Government
Government agencies have a duty to allocate their resources as responsibly as possible, including taking appropriate steps to reduce costs in providing necessary services to their communities.
And constituents deserve the opportunity to engage with responsive and efficient government. Most citizens are already accustomed to working exclusively with digital documents, from the bills they pay to forms and documents they fill out and exchange during the ordinary course of the day.
And with individuals relying on smartphones and tablets to do work, they save documents on their devices, such as a folder full of PDF documents to refer to even when offline. They aren’t tethered to a physical location and certainly not carrying a printer with them.
With so much activity taking place on Internet-connected computer systems, it makes sense to consider the benefits of going paperless in government.
What Is Paperless Government?
Paperless government relies on the computational infrastructure of government bodies to achieve what used to require enormous filing cabinets filled with official documents and other records. Wikipedia defines a paperless office as a work environment where paper usage is drastically reduced if not completely eliminated.
People achieve this in two ways. First, they digitize existing documents from archives. Second, they commit to using digital tools going forward without printing out each new generated document or printing a new copy whenever updating a file. The concept of a “paperless office” entered commercial usage in 1978 by Micronet, Inc., per Wikipedia.
However, despite the widespread introduction of desktop computers in business and governmental offices, people continued to use printers, generating even more paperwork than before the computerized era. When an organization builds itself around copy machines, fax machines, printers, and rooms of filing cabinets, it can be challenging to make the change to a digital environment.
But with such innovations as software as a service (SaaS) and cloud computing, in general, helping to connect geographically distant offices, it’s becoming increasingly easier to go paperless.
What Are the Benefits of Going Paperless?
To help you make the case with fellow stakeholders in your office, it’s good to examine the main benefits for government workers to go paperless.
Become More Responsive to the Public
Consider how difficult it is for members of the public to access important information when it’s stored on paper. Digitizing such information on systems such as Laserfiche or SharePoint will free people to access information when they need it, faster, and much easier.
People tend to waste time when they have to deal with mountains of paper. Goby reports that people spend at least 10 minutes every day looking for lost items, which they can save if the documents are all digital.
You want to reduce barriers between staff and citizens. And with a paperless office, you can start working with digital signatures to encourage easier collaboration.
Cut Down on Costs
When you no longer have to maintain printers and order paper by the ream, and no longer have to use energy to transport paper and print out documents all day, your costs will naturally go down. And the efficiency of digital documents further reduces costs in that staff works more efficiently.
Achieve Regulatory Compliance
Government offices typically must hold onto documents for regulatory purposes. You can maintain and provide this information more readily and in keeping with storage requirements in an environment that switches to digital documents.
Going with a paperless solution will help your office improve security since documents will be protected by industry-standard encryption, along with the requirement for login credentials before accessing sensitive information.
We all want to do our part to protect the planet and reduce our carbon footprint. Going paperless eliminates the need to cut down trees to make new documents and endless copies of these documents. You can brag to your citizens how you are “going green” with your paperless office efforts to inspire them to cut down on paper on their end too.
Is it Possible to Have a Truly Paperless Office?
With the right technology and software setup and proper staff training, it is possible to get close to the goal of a paperless office.
While some documents may still exist in printed form, for staff and members of the public to have convenient access to information, all new information generated on computers can stay on computers while needing to exist in physical form. If you are concerned about accessing a list of protocols or rules during a computer system crash, it’s prudent to have some paper capability still.
But when your team is using modern systems of record for citizen engagement, permitting, licensing, ERP, and so on, there’s no need to output all of the data in paper form.
For example, a PowerPoint presentation on a new community initiative can remain in digital format forever, with constituents never feeling a need to have such a document printed out and bound.
As PairSoft noted, “Hawaiian Governor David Ige is putting some of the ideas of a paperless office into place in his own office with electronic signatures and document processing replacing the older hard-copy methods the governor’s office has been using for years,” citing a report from Big Island Now.
You can anticipate more forward-thinking government officials pushing for the migration to a paper-free office as they witness what Hawaii is doing to streamline basic tasks like this.
Imagine how much more flexible your staff can be when you no longer have to maintain a vast number of personnel to receive what can seem like an unending deluge of printed documents from the public and then route them to the correct department for storage analysis and action. Such an archaic approach will soon become a distant memory when you aim for a paperless government solution.
Getting Guidance on Transitioning to a Paperless Office
From DocuSign integration to improving the efficiency of getting signatures from citizens and employees onto documents to sharing the paperwork effortlessly with all concerned parties, there are many ways to improve how effectively your organization can operate once you work toward going paperless.
You’ll save time and money and will be able to deploy staff on higher-level functions assisting the public instead of shuffling papers and wasting time looking for, copying, and distributing documents all day long.
The experts at Velosimo have years of experience developing cloud-native, off-the-shelf technology integration connectors and helping governments make their systems interoperable in a modernized, computerized system. To learn more about how we can help you transition to a paperless office, get in touch with Velosimo today.