Three out of every four British businesses are still wedded to paper

Despite this M-Files finds UK firms are aware of the operational efficiencies, improvements in business processes and cost reductions delivered by going digital.

The majority of small businesses in the UK are still storing documents in a mix of paper and electronic formats despite the fact that more organisations are waking up to the business benefits associated with working in a paperless environment. This is according to research findings released by M-Files Corporation, a provider of enterprise information management (EIM) solutions that dramatically improve how enterprises manage documents.
The research - conducted via the Sage Small Business Panel - questioned nearly 400 small businesses across a wide variety of vertical market sectors throughout the UK. The findings indicate that the majority of companies are using a mix of paper and electronic methods to store and access documents, and the proliferation of mobile device use in the workplace and the need to be able to access data anytime and anywhere is having a major impact on the way information is stored and managed.
More than three out of every four (77 per cent) UK business still store and manage paper records, with 19 per cent stating that they kept all records in paper format, while 58 per cent currently stored data in both paper and electronic format.
This research further illustrates the level of content chaos that exists in many organisations. Documents are often strewn all over the place— in filing cabinets, in network file folders, in emails, in file sharing and sync applications and in various business systems. As a result, employees waste enormous amounts of time every day searching for the information they need.
Julian Cook, Director of UK Business, M-Files, stated: “Over the past few decades, the transition from paper to electronic document management has not solved the issue of being able to quickly find the documents we need. All too often companies have just migrated their existing paper filing systems into digital form, and as a result are still suffering from the same drags on productivity. Yet in our world of immediacy, we need the right information when we need it.”
The research also found that half the sample stated that its workforce needed access to electronic documents and information while on a laptop when they worked remotely, and just over one third (35.2 per cent) claimed that they needed a solution that could give them access via a mobile device.
“With the growth of the cloud and the increasing use of mobile devices offering new tools for enhancing and improving information management, the answer is not just migrating paper files to digital form,” continued Julian.
“The research clearly shows that UK businesses are more than aware of the productivity gains that can be made by migrating to an electronic format. They are constantly facing pressure to improve efficiencies, optimise business processes, ensure compliance and reduce cost. The challenge for many is to cut their dependency on legacy paper-based processes and deliver real business transformation.”
Key findings include:
  • 77 per cent of UK businesses continue to store data in paper format - the majority (58 per cent) of are still using a mix of paper and electronic documents, while a stubbornly high 19 per cent continue to store and manage documents in paper format alone
  • This is despite the fact that according to the same sample, over half (56 per cent) stated that their business needed to access information on a laptop remotely when out of the office and well over one third (35 per cent) needed access anytime and anywhere from a mobile device
  • The top three reasons businesses are considering storing documents in electronic form are to improve business processes and enhancing operational efficiency (83 per cent), to reduce the physical storage space (84%) and to reduce overall cost (50 per cent)
  • A staggering 95 per cent of the sample stated that the business needed to keep documents securely for several years because of regulatory reasons.
  • When asked why the business is not considering storing more electronic rather than paper documents 60 per cent of those organisations questioned said they faced a need to keep original documentation to demonstrate regulatory compliance
M-Files has a longstanding history in providing organisations of all sizes with EIM solutions that ensure all documents, electronic records, reports and other data are easily and securely organised, managed, processed and tracked effectively, even in highly-regulated industries.
James Beard, European Business Development Director at Sage, added: “These findings indicate small businesses are aware of the productivity gains that can be made migrating from paper records to electronic document management. However, without a strategic approach in place for more effectively managing information, they often replicate the same inefficient processes. What is needed is a new way of thinking and creating more effective systems to store and manage data.”
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