It’s a very special time of the year right now. No, I don’t mean bonfire night, I am talking about World Paper Free Day, which takes place today (4 November). This is an annual occurrence, managed by information management professional body AIIM. It encourages organisations all over the world come together to reduce the amount of paper in business processes and think about the volume of paper that we use (and waste) every single day.
A very laudable initiative and one that really resonates with what we are trying to do as a company. Our suite of products – online board portal, BoardPacks, meeting management tool, MeetingSquared and our entity management software, EntitySquared – are all digital tools that (in addition to many other features) remove paper from certain processes.
This was illustrated perfectly earlier this week, when we announced the findings of some recent research into the board meeting process conducted on our behalf by TLF Research. Many UK boards are yet to embrace digital technology in the meeting room, with 59% of respondents admitting that minutes are still hand written manually during a meeting and then circulated once typed out.
Where are the digital tools?
Only two percent of executives surveyed said they used bespoke meeting management software for sharing meeting agendas and information. Seven percent were actually still using paper to share meeting agendas, astonishing in 2016 according to eShare CEO Alister Esam:
“So many businesses talk about digital transformation, yet when it comes to meetings, a great number still rely on email, or even worse, paper. There are many smarter options for meetings that are more collaborative and efficient and it is strange that many board meetings are still so old-fashioned.”
AIIM conducted research of its own in the run-up to World Paper Free Day. The human factor is still the primary reason given for paper use when handling, reading, and note taking, suggested by nearly half of the survey respondents.
Furthermore, 47% said in their organisations there was a lack of management initiatives to move away from paper. That certainly rings true. For any change to take place in a business, it needs to have support right from the very top. So if board members are still carrying reams of paper to their board meetings, it sends out a clear signal to the rest of the company that going digital is not a top priority.
Digital = smart
Using less paper (and saving significant amounts of money) is by no means the only benefit from using digital tools to replace paper. They just make things run more efficiently. An online board portal can play a major role in supporting the information sharing, decision making and risk management associated with good governance, in a way that paper-based board packs cannot hope to achieve.
BoardPacks for example, provides a single platform for managing board and committee meetings, risk, decision making and other governance related activities. This means decision makers have easy access to all relevant documentation, meaning more informed decision making.
So using digital tools to replace paper, is what any smart business should be doing, with a number of different benefits to be gained from doing so. But it is clear there is much more progress that needs to be made, hence World Paper Free Day.