t’s estimated that some 40% of business activities today are still document driven, and most enterprises spend as much as 10% of their revenue on documents. This is probably true.

By Ronnie Oeschger, divisional directo: Xerox Indirect Channels at Bytes Document Solutions

The Internet of Things (IoT) might be the current pretty buzzword, but when you take a look under the hood, companies today still run on documents. If your processes are the veins of your company’s nervous system, then the documents are the blood flowing through them.

After all, documents remain one of the most crucial means of communication in the organisation, and without communication, how do you get the right messages to the right people at the right time?

Not only are documents the most visible and manageable part of a company’s communications, they are the ones most likely to contain critical business information. After all, invoices communicate how much you owe and how much you’re owed. Proposals communicate what you can do and what you will do. Marketing materials communicate what problems you solve for your clients.

Which makes one wonder why, if documents are so vital to the wellbeing of an enterprise, most companies don’t put more effort into managing their documents? Lack of proper document management is most noticeable when a business is growing rapidly – and that’s exactly when communication matters more than ever.

Imagine what you could do by tackling the inefficiencies hidden in 40% of your business. And imagine the opportunities you could realise by optimising the way 10% of your revenue is spent.

Of course, it takes effort to focus on document management, which may not necessarily seem like a big deal, especially in comparison with the need to react to issues, accommodate new people and manage infrastructure at breakneck speed.

Compared to these matters, finding unused documents lying in printer trays may on the surface appear to be the least of your worries. However, consider just the following questions and you may quickly change your opinion:

  • Are those sensitive documents just lying there unprotected?
  • Could someone miss a crucial version of a file because it’s lying in a printer tray instead of their desk?
  • Do employees have any idea how costly the waste of ink and paper is?

And, of course, that’s just for unused documents. The symptoms of broken document management actually stretch much deeper, and can ultimately impact every person and process in the company.

The good news is that document management isn’t all that difficult. If you’re running IT for a growing business and you’re looking for a way to make a big impact in a short time, document management is probably the best place to start.

Once you are fully aware of where the documents come from, how they move and where they need to end up, you can start to change things for the better. This isn’t just about improving things like printer placement and device policies. This is about fundamentally impacting the way your company communicates.

It’s really quite easy. Start by assessing the way the business currently manages documents; this will give you an understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Look to implement the following simple steps:

  • Ensure that printers and scanners are positioned in a way that ensures the maximum number of people have access to them.
  • Check whether the processes that necessitate printing have been formalised, or whether printing is more typically a response to ad-hoc needs.
  • Learn which of your document workflows are predictable enough to be automated by a multi-function printer.
  • Find out how many steps it takes for an employee to scan a document and store it securely.
  • Ensure that relevant security protocols are put in place to make sure sensitive documents are never left unattended in the printer tray.

Once you have understood the importance of document management, the next steps are relatively simple. You need to focus on identifying the right solutions to the initial issues raised – in other words, you need to determine what can be automated, what needs to be secured and who needs to be given control.

Even more importantly, IT leaders that fix their document management in a strategic manner win back crucial hours they would’ve otherwise spent reacting to much smaller issues. Thus effective document management increases efficiencies and boosts productivity, while at the same time reducing costs.