Searching for documents is costing SMEs a staggering 42.2million per day in lost revenue, according to independent research released today.
The survey, which was commissioned by Invu and conducted by YouGov, revealed that managers and directors are wasting valuable time trying to locate documents that may have been mis-filed, moved to another location or simply lost, costing businesses dearly. Yet despite this, according to the managers/directors questioned, less than one in four UK SMEs have replaced their paper filing with digital document management, making it no surprise that only 7% of companies operate a predominantly paperless office.
With more than 4.5 million SMEs in the UK, and the survey finding that 80% of managers and directors waste up to one hour (worth 88 on average*) of their time per day looking for documents, it is little wonder that this wasted time is costing businesses 42.2 million. But this is really just the tip of the iceberg, if the number of director and managers in each company is considered; for example, for a company of 120 people with 10 directors and managers, the cost to that business could be up to 4400 per week.
The root cause of this inefficiency is paper; just 7% of SMEs have 91% or more of their documents saved electronically, even though paper documents can easily be lost or mis-filed due to human error. With only 6% of survey respondents stating that their organisation doesn't have a digital document management system because there's no point in creating a paperless office, the question of why more companies have not yet taken the plunge and become paperless leaps to the fore, particularly considering the growing need to efficiently store and retrieve documents for compliance and audit purposes.
Spending time on business development was the top response (31%) to the question of what managers and directors would do if they had additional time during their working day. This was followed by completing admin tasks (26%) and going home on time (21%). "It's shocking to think that managers and directors in SMEs are wasting valuable time that could be spent developing their business," commented David Morgan, CEO, Invu. "Document management is now very accessible to even the smallest business. For as little as 1 per day per user this problem can be eradicated."
George Derbyshire, Chief Executive of The National Federation of Enterprise Agencies (NFEA), says, "This research is quite frightening and is an example of how everyday inefficiencies can have a very damaging effect on small businesses. It's vital to prioritise on a daily basis, but it is also important to take time out from time to time and review your processes and systems to ensure that they are supporting you - not holding you back."
On the plus side, 23% of respondents have already implemented a digital document management system, with nearly two thirds of SMEs (64%) agreeing that this solution enabled them to look for or search through archive documents more quickly and easily. 16% cited decreasing the amount of storage space paid for as a major benefit, with one in 10 implementing a solution in order to meet regulations, such as the Data Protection Act.
For those SMEs that don't yet have a document management system, one third were apprehensive about high upfront expenditure; a worry that may be unfounded as it has been shown that ROI can be achieved within six months with this kind of system.
[* value established from survey questions]