Documented savings Featured

5:02am EDT January 2, 2002

Document management would be great if you could afford it, right? Odds are, you might already have the needed equipment in place, you just need to connect them together.

"Most of the time, companies have what they need to improve document management," says David Fazekas, vice president of the Great Lakes region for Xerox Connect. Many of today's copiers are multi-functional devices that can print, fax, scan and store documents.

"Once a device gets hooked into a network, you have a device that can do the job of what 10 to 12 printers can do," says Fazekas.

Printers are cheap because companies are making money on the supplies -- money that comes out of your pocket. If you can consolidate multiple printers into one device, supply expenses should drop.

"Some companies never budgeted a line item for printer supplies," says Fazekas. "It was just lumped into office supplies, so they didn't realize how much they were spending."

Savings can reach $5,000 per person in some environments, which means that even if you don't have the necessary equipment in place, leasing or buying it may prove cost effective if you have high print volumes.

Using a few multifunctional devices rather than a combination of copiers, fax machines, printers and scanners also allows your maintenance costs to be consolidated to one vendor.

"About 90 percent of the companies we work with have found that they would benefit from document management," says Fazekas. "A CFO can see real cost savings. If we remove five printers that cost $6,000 in supplies annually and aren't being used to their capacity and route documents through one machine that has the capacity, the savings become apparent."

With document management, the need to print many documents is completely eliminated. Expense reports, for example, can be scanned in along with any necessary documentation and signed electronically. Those files are then sent through the network to the administrator who processes them. The documents are stored in case of the need of an audit or if additional changes are needed.

"You simply use technology that's available to be more efficient," says Fazekas. "Just look at your specific business processes and teach people they don't need to be making all those copies."

The other advantage to document management is that it sets the table for knowledge management -- a process where a company is essentially storing all its data in one central database.

"It gets what's in people's heads and what's in the file drawers and creates a culture where everyone opens up and shares information," says Fazekas. "It will be the next big technology migration. It's coming slower to market because of the economy right now.

"The key to this is, in an economy where cost savings is important, everyone should be looking at document management. It saves money and sets the table for knowledge management later on."