The challenge of paper processes is no stranger to anyone working in government, especially with the rising demand for remote access to support a remote workforce. . However, going paperless goes deeper than just employee accessibility – it’s proving riskier and can actually cost you money in the long run.
- The federal government spends an average of $440 million per year on paper printing, and a third of its paper forms were never used
- Each misfiled document costs $125 and each lost document costs between $350 to $700 in lost employee time
- More than 70% of organizations would fail within three weeks if they suffered a catastrophic loss of paper-based records in situations like a fire or flood
Although there is a universal understanding that digitizing data is necessary to drive efficiency, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start when faced with the sheer volume of paper housed by your agency.
Here are five steps to help you get started on eliminating paper and extracting better, more accurate data to your systems.
Digitizing your paper files will probably be the most daunting task in your journey to becoming paperless, but it’s also the most important. You can start figuring out where all your data is currently stored and prioritize your documents. This could be determined by how often you get requests from constituents or work from newest to oldest dated files. Digitizing your backlogs and archives will open up your information and allow it to be accessed, refined and activated for anyone in your organization, from any location.
Once your documents are scanned, they need to be uploaded into a secure system so you can access them from one centralized location. Gone are the days of searching through files of constituent data when you now have the ability to search for your records based on keywords or search terms. This will eliminate the headache of disorganization and the highly manual searching process that sucks up a lot of your employees’ time.
You’ve digitized your documents, you’ve stored them in a centralized location, but how do you maintain your digitized state? Shut the paper off at its source by creating user-facing forms to collect citizen information. These user-facing forms will filter the collected information directly into your system and trigger a workflow to notify you that it has been filled out. Removing the human error that comes with manual data entry will ultimately improve your data quality and eliminate wasted time spent on correcting inaccurate data.
Automated workflows are designed to keep your processes flowing smoothly, even throughout your various departments or agencies. When your constituents fill out a form on your website, it instantly gets sent to the right departments for approval. Your workflows will also send reminders or bring attention to missing steps so they can be resolved quickly, without needing to step away from your desk.
Once your data is digitized and stored, you’ll need to decide who on your team gets access to these files. Each user will be able to log in to the system with their credentials that take them to tailored dashboards that contain the workflows needed to complete their role. This extra layer of security drastically reduces the chance of compliance issues when it comes to theft, the misuse of documents and daily wear of handling paper.
To compete in a modern government, agencies and departments need to be open to change. Digitalizing saves your employees time, makes them more efficient and ultimately saves you money, but it also improves your citizens’ experience. Online forms allow your citizens the ability to fill them out whenever they want, regardless of if your office is open. When you are open, your enhanced data quality and quicker access to their files allow you to get them the information they need, right when they need it.
At DataBank, we’ve been helping government agencies protect and use their data for more than 30 years. Whatever challenge you’re facing, we can help you with a solution. Connect with an expert to get started on your journey to maturity today.