Harnessing the impact of a sustainable office

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Revolutionary innovations such as Smartphones, Cloud Computing, and self-driving cars are technological advancements that seemed like fantasy to many until they manifested. The paperless office is perhaps one of those paradigm shifts still underway. Many businesses have made astonishing strides toward eliminating the use of paper. Yet, industries have not moved quickly enough, especially given the benefits of going paperless.

Nowadays, businesses are trying to reduce their environmental footprint, and for good reason. The worldwide consumption of paper has increased by 400% in the past 40 years with 35% of harvested trees used for paper manufacturing. Speaking about an average office, 70% of total office waste is paper, and as much as 30% of printed pages are not even collected from the printer tray. Additionally, it is estimated that a whopping 45% of printed pages end up as trash by the end of the day.

We must reduce our reliance on paper and go paperless wherever possible. A paperless office adopts digital technologies to re-architect paper-driven processes into paperless ones. From digital KYC to digital execution of documents, and from document management to cloud storage, paperless technology-driven processes offer exponential benefits to successful adopters – ranging from cost savings, enhanced document security, radical time-savings, and elevated customer experience to improved productivity and environmental sustainability.

Old Habits die hard / It’s time to let go

Consider a typical loan journey at a leading NBFC affiliated with a leading bank – ‘A’. A differentiates itself in the market via unique customer-centric loan journeys with an emphasis on continuous digital transformation.

In a typical loan journey at A, there are a lot of documents that need to be signed. These documents need to be signed for both regulatory and compliance purposes and for the benefit of the end borrower. On paper, this entire process was time-consuming and inefficient since a lot of effort was spent just preparing and collecting these documents. It used to take 3 – 5 days just to get one agreement executed!

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With paper comes storage issues, and it can quickly become a mess. Files can be easily accessed by anyone and it poses a security risk. Paper is prone to moisture and can easily damage. Additionally, it offers little flexibility in terms of collaboration.

Change is slow, especially ones that become a habit. But now we have many start-ups dedicated to solving these issues and making the switch convenient. The BFSI industry has the potential to gain/benefit immensely from paperless processes. This sector mandates the use of paper on an everyday basis and countless hours are spent processing them. Storing these documents is a different ball game since it requires space, further shooting operational costs.

Bring in the change

A realised that the turnaround time for loan disbursement was plagued by their dependency on paper and the many issues that arise out of it. They adopted a fully digital process for their paperwork – ranging from agreement creation, signing, and stamping to storage and management – and saw a drastic, incredible reduction in their turnaround time – a whopping 60% TAT reduction for loan disbursals with this new paperless journey. The cherry on the cake was the unparalleled customer experience and better employee productivity. 

Digital documents streamline and accelerate critical business processes by enabling convenient and quick signing and stamping of documents, they also enable easy digital verification and approval and provide a delightful customer experience. Here are more reasons why the BFSI sector should opt for a digitized documentation process:

Quicker TAT: Eliminating paper also means eliminating the need to scan, print, courier, or send runners to collect signatures. Paperwork that would have taken weeks or months can be closed in minutes. Key business processes like disbursals and account openings can now happen in a legally compliant, secure way in minutes. 

Expanded financial inclusion: Digital paperwork reduces operational costs, making onboarding processes cheaper. This makes servicing smaller ticket sizes possible and allows for rapid financial inclusion.

Operational efficiency: BFSI teams daily spend hours on mundane paperwork tasks. With digital paperwork, these tasks are eliminated, leaving room for teams to focus on productive core work instead. 

Superior legal security: Digitally signed documents are inherently tamper-proof and can be stored securely. They are safe from risks that arise out of natural disasters and relatively much safer and more secure than a piece of paper. 

Customer delight: Digital paperwork provides 100% end-to-end digital journeys, turning paperwork from an irritating process into a delightful one for customers

A better future for all

Beyond the business benefits, there is a clear societal impact to going paperless. The amount of pollution generated by the paperwork process – from paper waste to energy costs due to printing and courier – is appalling and has a large environmental impact. The most effective way to reduce paper usage and the resultant tree felling is to reduce our dependencies on paper; less demand means less supply. We should take cognizance of the impact our collective effort can make towards a more sustainable future and act on it by transitioning to digital technologies and leveraging them. Small things have a big impact and a minor change such as switching to a paperless office can give mother earth the time to heal itself. 

Going paperless is convenient and for those who are still a little hesitant and a little intimidated, start with small steps and gradually move to truly being paperless. Even small reductions in day-to-day paper usage will start to uncover some cost savings. Start your journey to go paperless today and see how much it can benefit you and make our long-term future sustainable and bright for all.

(By Shivam Singla, Founder and CEO, Leegality. Views are personal.)


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