If your company is considering business document management software, let the numbers guide you. Sure, you're probably concerned about yet another perpetual software licensing fee, which will add up month after month, and year after year, but rest assured, these tools will ultimately save more money than they cost. An Editors' Choice tool like Zoho Docs provides you with more flexibility, collaboration features, and storage capacity that you'll ever have with paper, file folders, and storage closets.
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I spoke with Lisa Croft, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe Document Cloud, a capable and cost-effective business document management tool, about the many ways business document management can save your company time, space, and more importantly, loads of money. Here are the four most obvious ways these tools provide excellent return-on-investment.
1. The Cost of Printing
If you're able to totally rid yourself of paper documents by making your entire operation digital, you'll wind up buying much less paper than your competitors. Additionally, you'll wind up spending less money on printing, which includes energy costs, ink, and the postage associated with physically sending documents to remote locations.
Businesses that print 10,000 documents will save approximately $2,740 by switching to digital documents (10,000 documents is roughly 1/6 of a GB; more on this later), according to Adobe's calculations. If the cost of paper doesn't sway you, think about how much you'll be helping the environment. Ten thousand documents requires 11,427 gallons of water, 961 pounds of waste, and 3,725 pounds of wood to produce. That's a lot of damage to our ecosystem.
"Try not to ever print at all," said Croft. "Once you print a document you're introducing a cost to managing that document. If you keep it digital from end-to-end, you save money from the start."
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2. Storage Costs
The cost of commercial real estate in Midtown Manhattan, where PCMag's offices are located, is roughly $73 per square foot. If you dedicate only 100 square feet to document storage, you're spending approximately $7,300 per month, or $87,600 per year, just storing paper.
However, if you were to entirely digitize your paper-based operation, you'd be able to store 64,800 Microsoft Word document pages in less than 1 GB of digital cloud storage. With Zoho Docs, for example, you'd be able to pay only $96 for 100 GB of storage per year. One hundred gigabytes is the equivalent of 64,800,000 Word pages. With Zoho Docs, you'll also gain access to features like group file sharing, online and simultaneous team editing, and even audit logs that tell you exactly who accessed and made changes to your documents (more on this later).
3. Do More for Less, and Do it Faster
I previously mentioned a few digital features that make business document management systems more valuable to your business than standard paper documents. In this section, I'll go a bit more in-depth. With Adobe Document Cloud, for example, you can send a single file to multiple users and request signatures from each recipient. Think about how much more complex and costly that process would be with paper and the United States Postal Service. Now, multiply that cost by however many times you might repeat the process throughout the year.
"Electronically signing a document saves you money," Croft said. "You don't have to FedEx it. You don't have to wait for it to get sent back. This reduces time and additional copies of the document. You also eliminate problems with people changing the document, so you know the document that went out and got signed is the document you actually sent out." I'll get into security in the next section.
What about group editing? With tools like Zoho Docs, you can get a group together and make simultaneous changes to documents without having to send them back and forth from member to member. Even if you were already using Microsoft Word and email, this process would be a lot slower and less collaborative. You'd likely create a document, and send it up the chain of command for multiple reviews, at which point the document would be sent back down to you for revisions. With business document management software, all of the invested parties could make edits to the document at once, all within the same document viewer.
"Being able to collaborate on a document is a benefit, definitely," Croft said. "The value on that is it saves money for travel, and it reduces review cycles as well. You're taking a document from beginning to end through a pretty complex cycle. Any time you can reduce that time, you're saving money. Those peripheral things people don't think about but save you money in the long run."
4. The Many Facets of Document Security
It's impossible to quantify how much document security can save your company until it's too late. For example: What if someone takes a contract you sent to them on a physical piece of paper and makes unconfirmed changes to the terms of the agreement? It's possible you won't see the changes reflected in the fraudulent document before you sign it. Now you're legally responsible for the terms of the new and phony agreement.
Additionally, what if someone loses a piece of paper that contains vital corporate information, and that information gets into the wrong hands? You could lose your competitive advantage or you could be sued. Although there's no way to put a number on what this damage could cost your business, it's almost certainly less than the price of an annual business document management subscription.
Business "document management tools let you know who has access and what can they do with a document," Croft said. "I can send you a file and tell when you opened it, if you looked at it, did you print it. I know where the document is. [With paper documents], is that document going to get into the wrong hands? These tools eliminate that risk entirely. It's something you don't think about saving money on but in the long run it might."
Find the Right Tool for You
Although Zoho Docs and Adobe are among the best tools on the market, other products like Google Drive, Microsoft SharePoint, and Dropbox Business offer unique feature sets that might better suit your needs.
For example: Google Drive offers full online access to documents, can read Microsoft Office files, and offers unlimited storage for more than five users. SharePoint is the ideal tool for companies that rely primarily on Microsoft Office 365 tools like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Dropbox is the best at storing, managing, and transferring files. The company even recently added IT administrator tools to give you more flexibility over who sees which documents.