In our modern, eco-friendly world it’s becoming commonplace to see less paper and more digital documents, and certainly in some situations it makes more sense to do this. Printing paper for the sake of it just creates waste and unnecessary recycling, but there are times when a paper document is still essential!
- Certain legal and/or financial documents still require a printed copy, as they will need to be signed or receive a notary’s seal.
- Sales teams working in remote areas or areas where the internet is not readily available will be best with a hard copy of any documentation that needs to be presented.
- Certain sales transactions, such as when selling a car, will need legal printed paperwork and receipts for the customer to prove that work has been carried out and paid for.
- Likewise, companies taking receipt of goods, especially those of high value, will want to keep a printed copy of the invoice and receipt for proof of purchase. The sender will also want a copy of proof of sale/shipping in case a problem occurs during transit
As we move forward into 2020 and beyond the lines between digital and paper documents are becoming thinner, so it is important that the paperwork being printed and kept in physical format is analysed on an ongoing basis for importance and not just out of force of habit.
Points to bear in mind when printing documents include:
- Document safety – does the document contain sensitive information and, if so, how is it protected in printed form?
- Will the document be kept for a reason and for a considerable amount of time? If it’s just being printed for a single use then will be no longer needed, do you really need it printed at all?
- Cost – Paper and ink cost money. Will your boss be happier if you keep it digital?
- Storage – again, can be costly, especially if you’re adding documents that also exist in a digital environment. If you are printing with the intention for the document to be stored, make sure you’re only printing the essentials.
Keeping documents stored in a cloud based / digital environment is not without its potential pitfalls:
- Security is very important. Adding a password to an important document or save location is the first step to adding basic security controls, but also make sure anyone managing a digital storage environment knows how to add/edit user access controls.
- As mentioned above, will the storage location be accessible to all users, even if they cannot connect to the Internet? Will they need to download their own hard copies and will this be a contravention of your company’s digital policy?
- What happens to the company if the Internet goes down? Are all the computers backed up so hard drive failure is not a problem?
That said, digital documents do come with their own set of benefits:
- Searchability – easier to search within a file location or document by phrase, name etc than it is to find a document that hasn’t been filed properly
- Infinitely more environmentally friendly than printed documents, even with the energy cost of running the internet, computers and servers to manage the digital workspace
- Enhanced user controls for access and protection, with options to even limit access to specific people. Easier than a padlock or PIN pad for sure.
- Digital editing options, rather than Tippex!
As we said above, there will always be situations where people require printed documents and if you fall into this category then it’s just important to ensure that the documents are being printed for a reason, that they are valuable enough to keep and be used, and that storage options are in place if required.