What is paperless system?

What is paperless system?

Since its invention, centuries ago, paper has become important to our lives. Advancement in technology has led to a lot of pundits suggesting strongly that the world will soon run without paper since the use of paper will give way to electronic means of recording information.


This assertion is a given voice through the technological solution of paperless or paper free systems. A paperless system can be described as an operation in which the use of paper is reduced significantly or eliminated with the hope of saving costs, making information and knowledge exchange easier, saving space, providing better security of information, reducing manual keying, improving processing quality and increasing overall effectiveness and efficiency.

A popular example of a paperless system is an office where documentation, filing cabinets are all limited and everything runs electronically since all paper documents are converted into digital form. For example instead of sending invoices to clients in paper form, a paperless system converts it into an

electronic format and transmits to clients either through emails or through other forms of electronic communication. Furthermore, when payments are due, instead of writing cheques to cover these invoices, an electronic payment is made through the banks or other payment system.

Paperless systems can be seen in a lot of places outside the office environment. For example, in some religious communities worshipers can now be seen singing from electronic hymnals or reading the scriptures in an electronic format instead of print.

Kwami Ahiabenu, the writer

Paperless banking

Traditional banking relies on a lot of paper, including cheque or savings books, bank statements, different banking authorisation forms, loan forms, change of identity forms among others.However, due to the uptake of digital banking, most banks are investing in paperless banking services. They deliver this service either through online banking or mobile apps giving access to all services which traditional banks still rely on to run operations for their clients. Paperless banking has a lot of advantages for not only the consumers but the banks as well, according to http://bit.ly/2xXeb1P banks and billers can collectively save over 20 billion USD by 2020 if they choose to go paperless.

Electronic Content Management System (ECMS)

The driver of most paperless systems is an electronic content management system (ECMS), which provides a seamless infrastructure to allow workflow processes for all day to day content handing activities.

It runs on a software and hardware system which manages the creation, storage and control of content electronically. Primarily it manages electronic information within an organisations workflow by providing collaborative mechanisms so that different aspects of an organisation can exchange documents easily. Searchable repositories are also another core service of ECMS, which provides users with ways of document retrieval.

Challenges of Paperless system

The cost of introducing a paperless system is not cheap due to the high initial cost of software and hardware, however this investment will be paid off by the efficiencies achieved over time. Another big challenge of a paperless system is staff attitudes, culture and practices towards a new system where their old ways of doing things need to be scrapped for a complete different set of working styles, this challenge can be tackled by offering regular training.

One popular disadvantage of paperless systems is the potential for system failure that involves either hardware and software failure or both. This can be catastrophic if it leads to loss of data. To operate a paperless office it is imperative to have reliable, robust and time tested systems in place to prevent occurrences of this nature. A reliable backup system plan is important to operations run.

therefore, paperless systems must be introduced with a massive investment in electronic security and privacy protection mechanism. Other challenges confronting paperless systems are a potential for error, since these electronic systems are likely to face human input errors.

Paperless Systems here to stay

Although, the world is far from totally eliminating paper, the paperless train has left the station, and more and more facets of our societies are relying less and less on paper. Take for example the post office, it is unusual for persons to exchange letters these days since use of emails and other messaging services like SMS and WhatsApp is providing users with real time information exchange opportunities. The popular example of the ports in

Ghana going paperless to aid in quicker turnaround for importers while closing revenue leakage at the ports is evidence that paperless systems are being considered useful and will be rolled out across more sectors of our economy. It is now a prerequisite for all and sundry to have in place strong digital strategies which will drive their paperless journey.

The writer is the Executive Director of Penplusbytes.org - you can reach him at [email protected] WhatsApp : 0241995737

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