It’s Time to Scrap Paper from Your Business

Printers, overnight mail, scanners, and fax machines are killing business productivity. More and more organizations are moving away from paper-based approaches to their critical business processes to reduce costs, improve security, and limit environmental impact.  According to a recent Adobe study, “Paper: An Endangered Species?” the majority of managers surveyed had overwhelmingly negative attitudes toward paper-based processes and cited productivity, security, attracting talent and going green as the benefits of a completely digital workflow. The research is based on interviews with 1,051 U.S. managers in small, medium and large businesses that are responsible for creating or working with contracts.

Going Digital: Improving Business Processes

Adobe’s research shows that more than half of managers surveyed believe that digital approaches simplify work. Further, companies slow to adopt fully digital practices are at a disadvantage when it comes to growing their businesses and ultimately attracting new customers. For example:

  • 51% of respondents said that a digital workflow makes filing and managing documents easier
  • 61% of managers said working digitally saves on costs
  • 32% said a digital workflow is more efficient, giving them an edge with client work and ultimately helps win new business

Paper-Based Contracts: a negative impact on trust

Our study also showed that paper impacts the trust that businesses have with partners, vendors and customers.  Unfortunately, this is particularly acute when it comes to the sanctity of contracts, the heart of business agreements:

  • More than two-thirds believe that paper-based contracts are prone to defacing
  • 60% of managers believe that password-protected electronic documents are more secure than paper documents locked in a safe
  • 56% cited the fear of losing a paper document as the top “con” of using paper

Attracting talent and going green

Our study also pointed out a growing attitude among people that it’s more prestigious to work for a company that is mostly digital:

  • 76% of respondents said they are impressed by companies that have a strong digital presence
  • 71% said they wish their company was more digital
  • 68% said that it is important for a company to operate mostly electronically versus on paper when they are deciding where to work

The last mile: moving to electronic contracts

While the vast majority of business processes – from small companies to large enterprises – have already gone digital, contracts represent the last mile for companies to go paperless. Our study showed that the tipping point for more businesses to transition to digital contracting may be on the horizon – respondents noted they would be highly interested in using an automated Web contracting tool that makes it easy to electronically sign, track and secure contracts:

  • 98% of respondents noted they still use paper in their transactions involving contracts
  • Only 18% having made the switch to purely digital methods when signing contracts
  • 72% said a digital tool, such as an eSignature service, would fulfill a critical business need
  • 73% of managers affirmed that life would be easier if all contracts exchanged at work were done digitally

Digital Contracts Streamline Business

Adobe believes that now is the time for all organizations to immediately evaluate how and if they can shift to digital approaches for contracting. eSignature technologies are easy, secure, and readily available. Organizations that use eSignatures are seeing a dramatic decrease in the time needed to close deals, reduced contract negotiation times, faster “quote-to-cash”, and a safer, more secure way to track and store some of their most critical business documents.   And all eSignatures are backed by the federal ESIGN Act, ensuring the legality of the contract, which should put the customer at ease.

For your “signees,” signing a contract is simple and easy.   They can sign from their mobile phone, their iPad, or any device connected to the Web – no more waiting by the fax machine or for that overnight envelope to arrive.

It’s easy to get more digital. Just check out Adobe EchoSign here for a free test drive.

Paper: An Endangered Species? (Study PDF)

Twitter: @jon_perera