Let’s start out with some interesting stats I came across recently on a Go-Green site encouraging recycling in Minnesota:
- The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
- The United States alone, which has less than 5% of the world’s population, consumes 30% of the world’s paper.
- Over 40% of wood pulp goes toward the production of paper.
- The costs of using paper in the office can run 13 to 31 times the cost of purchasing the paper in the first place!
Clearly, if trees around the world had a vote, every company would be automating tasks on their spool files and using forms software to manage electronic templates and delivery. But going green with task automation and forms software isn’t just about saving forests. It’s also about saving money, getting more efficient, and coping with dwindling IT staff resources. We are officially in an era of belt-tightening budgets.
Where have all the Computer Operators Gone?
Ever since the economic meltdown 5 years ago and even a few years prior to that, the new corporate mantra started to be “do more with less.” One area that has seen this philosophy in action is IT. Many small to midsize companies no longer have a computer operator. Systems have become more efficient and user friendly over the years to the point where one system today can do the work that required many systems in the past. Many tasks can now be performed by anyone from an administrative assistant to a Vice President. Plain and simple, Power Systems of today do not take as much “operating” time as systems in the old days. But managing and leveraging spool file output is still a challenge for companies that have not automated their tasks and forms.
The Paper Trail
So how do companies cope with having less staff on hand to handle the thousands upon thousands of paper reports that get generated throughout the year? Paper reports require stocking of toner cartridges and different kinds of paper: green bar to pre-printed invoices to purchase orders to plain paper for reports. Paper reports also require managing printer maintenance. Distributing paper reports has its own set of headaches in the form of making copies, delivering them intra-office or outside the office to clients and satellite offices via FedEx or UPS. Then you have filing hard copies and storage of old reports that are required to be kept for “x” number of years as back-up and/or for compliance matters. Many companies continue to store a virtual forest full of paper documents that are unnecessary with the availability now of well-designed task automation and form software.
Task Automation and Electronic Delivery with Spool File and Forms Software
Spool files contain valuable business intelligence for companies. But they are not user-friendly. Using software to maximize the output provides significant advantages in efficiency and savings, as well as a green alternative to giant piles of paper output. Here are some key benefits:
- Cost Reduction. We have clients who have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by automating tasks with spool file software and using Forms software to reduce the company paper footprint with electronic delivery of reports and invoices.
- Staff can be assigned to tasks that help core business rather than serving stocking/printing issues that come with soft copies.
- Expedited delivery of important business information
- Enhanced security with electronic storage vs. paper storage.
- Faster and more user friendly storage and retrieval of documents.
- Much more efficient redelivery (redelivery = someone loses, misplaces, or says they never received a report and it must be redelivered).
- Reduction in errors. Humans will make mistakes, software not nearly as often (if it is good software).
- Automation software never takes a vacation, never calls in sick, never comes in late or leaves early
When do Companies Need More Help With Automation and Forms?
The newest IBM Power Systems have the ability to generate reports as PDFs already built into the operating system, although some programming is required. If you only need a few reports generated as PDFs for your daily workflow you probably do not need any additional software.
However, you will need additional software if you want more than a few reports as PDFs or use Excel spreadsheets, TXT, or HTML files, and if you want to leverage the efficiencies of auto delivery and auto emailing. Another feature included in good spool file software is auto bursting (bursting a spool file that contains 1,000 invoices for 800 companies so that auto delivery can take place).
Doing More with Less
With companies slashing budgets and less staff on hand to manage the heartbeat of information flow within the company, the cost-effective solution is to find software tools that will automate tasks and create electronic templates and delivery of important forms. The savings in printing costs alone far exceeds the cost of well-designed spool file and forms software. Plus, the trees and the tree-huggers will thank you.