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It’s About Time You Went Paperless with Online Documentation

going paperless with online documentation

We all know the story of paper and how it has become an indispensable part of our lives. Imagining a world without paper is not possible since everything that we see around us – books, documents, user manuals, brochures, cartons, online documentation etc. are paper-based. Pity eucalyptus, pine and many other trees that are rampantly cut to produce paper for human consumption.

Consider These Facts:

  1. According to Statista, The global production of paper and cardboard stood at approximately 411 million metric tons in 2016.
  2. Ecology Global Network states that the worldwide consumption of paper has grown 400 percent in the last 40 years. At present, nearly 4 billion trees (or 35 percent of the total trees) cut around the world are used in paper industries on every continent.
  3. As per the U.S. Toxic Release Inventory report tolled out by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, pulp and paper mills contribute the most in air and water pollution.

The statistics above testify that we use paper at the cost of the lives of millions of trees that get chopped every day just to fulfill our daily requirements. This calls for a change – change of thought, change of action and change of the way we work and live our lives.

Related blog: How to Create Online Documentation?

Digital – The Key Driver of Change

The seed of change has been planted since the advent of digital technology. The question is, has this change managed to bring down paper consumption and has it penetrated the lives of people and working styles of organizations spread across the globe?

As far as people are concerned, the picture looks bright. According to Statista, almost 4.4 billion people were active internet users as of April 2019, encompassing 58 percent of the global population.

worldwide digital population - go paperless with online documentation

People, especially young adults, are using technology for something as simple as taking notes, giving tests or learning a new skill. The best example is smartphones, which can be used to save data, take notes, and maintain a diary, thus eliminating the need to use paper.

To learn something, the role of paper-based textbooks cannot be ignored, but the digital percolation is urging people to opt for the online route. There are various online courses on different subjects that are easily accessible. One simply needs to subscribe to the courses and opt for online tests. Does this mean both learning and taking exams can be done online? Yes, it has become a possibility, and various educational institutions are opting for the online mode of teaching.

Talking specifically about organizations, paper-based documentation used to be common but now with the advent of digital, things are changing. But, digital adoption is still at a rudimentary stage with some companies preferring the traditional approach when it comes to managing business knowledge. What they need is awareness and enlightenment about the various benefits of going paperless and adopting online documentation tools.

Benefits of Going Paperless

A paper-free office can bring you more benefits than you can imagine. Let’s look at a few of them:

#1 Increases Your Savings

Printing, mailing, faxing and everything else associated with paper gets out of the picture, which saves you a significant amount of money. Also, there are times when you have to ship important documents to get signatures. With a digital system in place, you can get rid of the shipping expenses. Managing records on paper are tedious and expensive. Using online documentation tools for the same can bring about a sea change in your work processes and bring down your expenses considerably.

Save a fortune”

#2 Decreases Paper Waste

According to Mashable, an average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year which collectively amounts to a whopping 4 million tons of paper used in one year in the states alone. This is a humongous amount of paperwork. Storing, managing and later recycling this paper is a time-consuming process.

Embracing digital can eliminate paper waste, while completely wiping out the cost associated with filing and storing paper documents. The best way is to leverage online documentation tools to create a knowledge base that works like a central information repository where employees can share and access data instantly.

Paper waste in the u.s. - go paperless with online documentation

Keep the paper clutter away

#3 Shoots-up Productivity Levels

Tasks, like filling forms, making duplicate copies of documents and physically sharing them with teams is tedious. Using online documentation tools to carry out these processes will be a relief for your employees as it will save time which they can utilize judiciously in work that needs more attention. Printing invoices for customers and delivering them via mail is again burdensome and time-consuming. But when this process is brought online, it would take no more than a few minutes. To enhance productivity in the invoicing process, consider using the best invoicing software that fits your needs.

“Make your employees more productive”

go paperless with online documentation

Going paperless will, of course, fulfill your larger objective of going green but at the same time will streamline your work processes and help you score high on productivity and efficiency.

With continued use of paper in your business operations for external and internal documentation, you will be boosting the pulp and paper industry that contributes significantly to air and water pollution. This may violate the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations and could bring you in a bad light, as your customers will start seeing you as a firm that’s not responsible.

  • Still stuck on the traditional paper-based approach?
  • Does the environmentalist in you get awakened when you see tons of paper getting wasted in your firm?
  • Scouting for ways to ditch paper and switch to complete digitization?

Consider adopting top online documentation tools.

The benefits of online documentation tools given below will inspire you to adopt one for your business:

#1 Expedites Employee Productivity

Having a fully-functional internal knowledge base for your employees keeps confusion at bay and helps them find information instantly. Imagine the amount of time and energy it would take if they had to search for data from piles of paper files. With the loss of time and energy, projects will also get delayed, and deliverables won’t be on time.

However, with the finely structured knowledge base, searching for information can be an effortless affair. This video will give you a glimpse of how to create an internal knowledge base for your workforce.

#2 Drives Better Decision Making

The faster your employees find relevant information, the better it will be. They will be able to use that data on time and take thoughtful decisions regarding a project, presentation, client meetings, etc.

#3 Enables Quick Problem Solving

When your employees get stuck somewhere all they would need to do is refer to your internal documentation. Take a hypothetical situation. A new employee of your organization wants to understand your employment and HR-related policies. Instead of asking the HR manager, he or she simply opens the knowledge base and looks for the required information. The problem gets solved in minutes..!

Knowledge Management System

#4 Reduces Customer Tickets

Instead of providing your customers with a paper-based product manual, if you give them an online product document, it will make it easier for them to resolve queries instantly without raising a ticket. They will get quick answers to whatever questions they have, thus eliminating the need to reach out to your support staff.

Must Read:
Create High-Quality Product Documentation for Your Customers
How to Create the Perfect Saas Product Documentation for Your Customers

#5 Keeps You From Committing Similar Mistakes

An internal knowledge base can have information about various clients, the deals clinched and lost, your products and services, etc. It can also have the experiences different teams had while developing a new product or meeting clients’ requirements. You can refer to the past experiences of people, processes adopted to ensure that similar mistakes don’t get repeated.

On the contrary, when you use paper for documentation, business efficiency and employee productivity can go for a toss, which ultimately impacts your growth graph. Now that you know the magic that online documentation tools can weave into your business, it’s time to educate you on how to create online help documentation for your firm.

Transitioning From Paper-Based to Paperless

The big transition can materialize provided you use the right online help documentation software to create a  knowledge base for your business. If you are looking for such software, glance through the five major features you should check out before buying one.

  • Online document editor: Writing, editing, and publishing content is a breeze with this editor. Uploading existing files and inserting images and videos can also be done easily. You get a variety of styling and formatting options that can be used to create an appealing document.  
  • Conditional content: Security is a must when you build a cloud-based knowledge base. Conditional content helps you keep the content safe by preventing unauthorized access. It allows you to set conditions on content visibility and exercise full control of who can do what in the knowledge base.
  • Multiple device compatibility: Accessibility across devices is paramount. This is to ensure that your millennial employees and customers can access the knowledge base as per their convenience.
  • Roles and permissions: It becomes easy to make documentation online from scratch when the roles of specific users and groups are defined. This feature enables you to assign roles like administrator, editor, contributor, and viewer to different users and based on these roles; they are given permissions.  
  • Reports: You won’t get your knowledge base right in the first go itself. There will be multiple iterations that you will be doing over a period of time. This will be with the help of insightful reports that show you the most viewed articles, poorly-rated articles, number of searches made, failed keywords, etc.  

The moral of the story is: as responsible organizations, you can adopt sustainable and paper-free practices that besides making you eco-friendly also take you on a positive growth trajectory.

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About the author

Bryan Wills is a seasoned expert in knowledge management with over a decade of experience in the field. His expertise extends across various domains, including Security & Compliance, User Management, Knowledge Management, Software Documentation, and Customer Support. His writings not only reflect his deep understanding of these subjects but also offer practical solutions and strategies to help organizations enhance their knowledge management processes. Bryan’s work has been published in GetFeedback, CustomerThink, and Apruve.