By James Kingery
RISMEDIA, March 25, 2010—For starters, going paperless is a good thing and any organization “over the hump” will tell you the same. The benefits of paperless operation are well documented and include the elimination of filing cabinets and offsite storage, reduction in supply expense, faster access to files and information, elimination of lost files, elimination of lost documents from within a file, reclaimed office space, secure agent access to transaction files, compliant records and much more.
More elaborate advantages come in the form of workflow, standardized processes for your specific requirements, coverage strategies and virtual operation. So what problems will we face implementing a paperless solution? How can we assure a successful launch? What expectations should I set?
At face value, “going paperless” is all good news. But like anything worth having, it takes a dedicated effort to see desired results. The best outcomes are from organizations with good leadership. If senior management announced: ”our team has decided to go paperless for long term benefits office wide. To assure a successful transition, we need all team members to be dedicated to the process. No exceptions.” This would simplify the overall engagement process and maximum benefit would be realized from training efforts. Transaction review, compliance and agent communication would improve quickly from high participation rates and a coordinated effort.
But it doesn’t always work this way. Often, the entire process is pushed off to one, maybe two individuals. This could be due to variations in management philosophy or team structure which impacts the rate of acceptance or what we refer to as “cultural adoption.” Think about team members. How long have they been doing things the same way? Do they appreciate technology or avoid it? Do they see process evolution as good or bothersome? Are we resistant to change or willing to embrace?
Remember, the benefits of paperless operation compound over time so attitude and perspective in the early stages makes a big difference. In days 1-30, little or no information is in the system, so it’s all new activity without the real benefits. There is a learning curve no matter how ‘intuitive’ the process. In days 31-60, familiarity grows, routines are established and early benefits are now realized. In the third and fourth month, team members settle in and the process becomes more reflexive. Information is in the system, searches yield results, transaction files are in process, due dates permit sorting and work prioritization, process advantages become evident. You are on your way!
So my recommendations are, do your homework, find the right solution and then go for it! Set the expectation that teams collaborating on process and participating in training are successful faster than groups with selective involvement and limited participation. Knowing that it takes a few months for real benefits to emerge, but the advantages over time are unparalleled, is a great way to begin the project.
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Going Paperless – What to Expect as You Begin to Transition