Reducing Paper Use – Saves Big Money

I was talking to a customer of mine in Sydney yesterday, and the discussion of forms came up as a way of reducing the amount of paper the organisation uses.

I recalled there was a study done by CitiBank about their use of paper, and ways they reduced their consumption, saved an impressive amount of money, and helped the environment too!  (Thanks for the link Andrew Lowson!)

See in the figure below from the Pulp & Paper 2002 North American Factbook that amount of paper being used for Business forms is steadily dropping.  This drop in paper use for forms is thanks to Forms automation technologies like Microsoft Office InfoPath.  Because InfoPath is included with Microsoft Office – it is an easy way for organisations to start moving away from paper forms, and getting them into electronic format so they can be emailed, shared, distributed, integrated and archived electronically.  The benefits are clear – integration with back end systems so there is no need to rekey the data, less paper usage, able to track where your form is, smart forms with validations so the data captured is sure to be correct etc.

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While paper forms are on the decline, other paper (Copy Paper) is still on the rise, and the cost and environmental impact is probably not appreciated by most people.

A really nice summary of the CitiGroup study, in partnership with Environmental Defence, on their paper usage can be found here: http://www.edf.org/documents/2860_Citigroup_CopyPaper.pdf 

They also have a paper calculator on their site:  http://www.edf.org/papercalculator/

Consider this from the report:

The study shows an average employee uses 20 reams of paper a year, which equals a tree a year. They also figured out that the TCO of a ream is 16 times the cost of purchase. So let’s work this out for, say, 10,000 employees:

  • 10,000 employees * 20 reams * $4 cost per ream * 16 TCO = $ 12,800,000
  • So if we managed only to reduce 10% of paper usage through business process automation that equals $ 1,280,000
  • And if you include productivity improvements, fewer errors and rework then the number gets even bigger.

Want more proof, here is a link to the DP World case study on how they use InfoPath and SharePoint as the standard tools to automate forms and the processes for the organisation.  This is a good example of the vision I have for using Microsoft Office and InfoPath as a paper form replacement.

http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/casestudy.aspx?casestudyid=4000002583

Here is another case study from BT Financial Group about their use of InfoPath and SharePoint

http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/CaseStudy.aspx?casestudyid=200522