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Going almost paperless – could it help Zimbabwean business? #BroadbandEconomy

People in an office working

The time we live in is a time like no other. There has never been a time where there’s been so much technology advancement like there is now. With all the good capable devices and software at our disposal, what are we doing with it? If we were to fully adopt technology and utilize it, could we see a rise in efficiency of our businesses or there’s no problem to begin with? Let’s discuss.

The office

Well, the way offices are run with and without the aid of technology is different. Take a look at a typical office that many have come to know. Documents for records are stored in paper format and shelved in cabinets and any new document be it a letter is printed. Calendars with events, receipts, notes, diaries with appointments, you name it, they are all paper based.

Is there even a problem?

Yes. Relying on a paper based system is a problem. For starters, there’s the clear environmental issue where we’re constantly cutting more trees than we are actually planting. The environment aside, there is the issue of management of information. To locate a simple document, you have to open a cabinet and sift through many other files which you necessarily don’t care about.

Apart from that, paper occupies a lot of physical space once there is more of it. It also costs a lot to keep purchasing paper and make sure there’s 24/7 security.

How does going almost paperless help….

When you move most of your systems to digital versions, you gain quite a lot. Since the files are not in any physical space, they’re more portable and if you’re storing them on the cloud then they’re virtually accessible anywhere in the world. That means that you can wake up tomorrow in a different part of the world but not have a problem as your files will ‘move’ with you.

Productivity increases also when using a less paper based office system. Instead of spending time trying to get the printer working or locating where you filed that last documents, you can do that quickly and move on to doing other things. Now someone might argue that it is a whole lot less secure to keep information online. However, if you take the necessary steps to keep yourself safe online, then you shouldn’t have a problem.

Is it practical

Remember I said almost paperless. It is quite impossible right now especially in Zimbabwe to run a completely paperless business. You’re bound to come across someone who needs a physical document or something that requires paper. So move the stuff you can to a paperless system and keep what you can’t on paper.

I’ve had the opportunity to work at two different companies that didn’t rely on paper for most of the day to day operations. The tools are there already for example Google’s G-suite which is tailored for running companies in a paperless manner. It will not be every business that will be able to make the transition. However, it is something to consider when trying to improve the efficiency of your business operations.

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One thought on “Going almost paperless – could it help Zimbabwean business? #BroadbandEconomy

  1. The first paragraph of your article seems to give the impression that we’re at the highest stage of technological advancement, maybe. Do not forget about some ancient civilisations which were so advanced that ours is like a grade two class compared to them right now. The Sumerians for instance, and the Aztecs or Egyptians who might have employed levitation to move huge “bricks” around to build pyramids or could have worked with beings from another dimension to build what appears like aerial landing markings on earth. But I won’t burst your bubble.
    Paper, in my view, will always be required to keep a hard copy, even of the most sophisticated system as either input (raw record), process (method) or output (proof). This marks recorded history and is very necessary. To get an idea of the chaos that ensues when our “sophisticated digital systems” malfunction or simply stop functioning due to, let’s say, lack of power imagine the escalators, lifts, airline systems etc This happened in the UK recently. Paper-based processing is not only the back-up to our digital ideal, but is the ancestor to it. The process you mockingly describe of filing or pulling out a physical file is precisely the TTL flow followed by a computer in its “fetch-execute” cycle. This is where names like files, folders as applied digitally etc came from (without it these terms would be difficult to understand or conceptualise). Let’s not get carried away by mocking the “foetus stage” simply because we maybe at the “adult stage” or graphically let not a butterfly mock a grub, which is its predecessor.

    As for efficiency, without metrics, this remains a subjective element. I think even with all the automation we have, there are still some processes that actually are slower e.g. a service teller (human) clearly struggling to either key in data or understand a (perhaps cryptic) error-message, before giving up or when 2 million vehicles are produced from an assembly line and have to be re-called due to a “defect”.
    What we call “automation” actually requires the thought process, kinetics and mechanics to be coordinated to start it up, i.e. a robot has a switch, even an “autonomus” vehicle or the fanciest computer or a car assembly plant, it can’t start-itself up but needs mostly human intervention. I’m not condoning the wastage of paper but feel it is still absolutely necessary.

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