Making the case for going paperless

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Making the case for going paperless

What: A report on moving paper forms to digital processes: “The ROI for Government of Going Digital Made Simple,” from IDC Government Insights.

Why:  To demonstrate that moving from paper to digital processes will improve data collection and management, increase the usefulness of the collected information, generate fewer data entry errors and tighten security, the report uses three hypothetical case studies to lay out the return on investment.

Findings: Based on the business cases and interviews with government executives, the report found that employee salaries are the “key component for savings.” Reducing the amount of time workers spend processing, storing and maintaining paper forms will have the most impact on costs. Digitizing even one form can make a difference, and focusing on user experience will help drive the adoption of digital forms.

The report also found that agencies didn’t fully understand the long-term costs of remaining paper-based until they began the move to digital processes. They also didn’t have a handle on the number of paper forms they had nor whether the data they were collecting was ever used. Those agencies that had transitioned to digital were glad they could use all of the collected data for program and operational decision making instead of just the information that was easy to extract from paper.

Takeaway: Agencies looking to transition from paper to digital-based processes should:

  • Start small, focusing on a couple limited programs or processes. This allows agencies to test technologies and build best practices.
  • Calculate the potential ROI for the transition of those processes and understand the areas of change and what the impact could be. Processes with the highest ROI should be transitioned first.
  • Focus on core technologies of transitioning, like digital forms, business process management software and input hardware. Add-ons, like integration with email, analytics and call center applications, can be distracting at the start.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.

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