It’s no surprise that our world is becoming more digital. Email is replacing traditional postal mail, health records are becoming electronic, and textbooks are increasingly available on tablet devices. This digital transition brings with it a number of benefits that range from reducing environmental impact to increasing efficiency and productivity. However, one of the most significant benefits is cost savings. In this seventh installment of our Saving Governments Money blog series, I’d like to discuss some of the ways that government organizations are reducing costs by going paperless and eliminating the costs associated with managing paper records.
Physical records require high up-front costs, in addition to ongoing maintenance fees. Digitizing files means that public sector organizations no longer need to build large warehouses for storage and can reduce operational costs like heating and air, electricity, and rent. In addition, going digital opens the door to document management tools, which can help governments quickly meet compliance regulations and guidelines, not to mention make pulling files a much more convenient process in general.
Take for example the City of Hamburg, Germany, which expects to save an impressive $14.3 million (USD) over the next five years simply by automating its paper-based approval process. The city’s Ministry of Finance had used a paper system to manage approvals for expenditures and other initiatives, but found it time-consuming and vulnerable to security threats. As paper documents were shared between individuals, there was no formal, auditable way of tracking their journey. Microsoft helped the ministry create a solution allowing it to monitor document flow, track changes, and store completed files in a centralized repository. The city looks forward to significant cost savings that will result from faster approval cycles, less paper consumption and lower printing costs.
The simple process of digitizing records can make a big difference, and I encourage you to check out more resources available here.
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