Why you should adopt a paperless policy management system

Paperless policy management can help your organization cut costs, increase efficiency, and become more environmentally friendly. Here's how to go paperless.

December 23, 2020

Article highlights

For most companies, paper and printing costs make up a large part of the budget. In many cases, printing is the third-highest business expense—behind rent and payroll.

Experts estimate the average employee uses 10,000 sheets of paper every year. Between paper and printing costs, this means each employee’s printing can cost the company somewhere around $800 each year.

For high-compliance organizations, these numbers can be much higher. One study estimated that the average employee in the banking sector uses 40,000 sheets of paper each year.

Especially in those high-compliance organizations, much of that paper goes toward employee manuals and policy management. Organizations may spend thousands of dollars each year creating physical, paper policy manuals for employees.

Nowadays, many companies are seeking to reduce paper use by adopting a paperless policy management process. Paperless policy management can make policies easier to access and update.

A good policy management software can save you paper and printing costs and make your company more environmentally friendly.

Environmental impact of paper

In the U.S. alone, businesses use 12.1 trillion sheets of paper a year. That paper consumption has a significant impact on the environment in several different ways.


According to Conservatree, it takes about 24 trees to make a ton of paper.

One tree can produce about 8,333.33 sheets of paper. With the average paper use described above, that means each employee consumes roughly 1.2 trees worth of paper every year.

While that may not seem like much, it takes a toll.

According to Forest Ethics, more than 40% of the world’s industrial logging goes into making paper. Logging contributes to deforestation, which drives climate change and destroys the habitats of many different animals.

Paperless policy management can drastically reduce your company’s paper use.

PowerDMS customers have saved more than 833 million sheets of paper – that’s over 100,000 trees.

Landfill waste

Office paper use creates a lot of waste. It’s estimated that 45% of the paper used in offices ends up in the trash before the end of the day. And much of that paper ends up in landfills.

Statistics show that paper accounts for anywhere from 16 to 25% of landfill waste and roughly 33% of municipal solid waste.

Recycling can help reduce these numbers, but recycling can be expensive, and it comes with its own environmental impact.

It’s far better to reduce the amount of paper you use than to recycle huge amounts of paper.


Of course, the impact of paper and printing isn’t just about tree use and waste creation. The process of manufacturing paper and printing supplies impacts the environment, as well.

In 2015, the paper industry contributed 20% of the releases of toxic chemicals into the air in the U.S.

Printer ink and technology also contributes to pollution.

Ink cartridges often include harmful chemicals that can pollute soil and water if they end up in a landfill.

That’s not to mention the resources used and emissions released during the manufacturing process.

With paperless policy management, your company will use less paper and printing supplies, therefore reducing your environmental impact.

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Benefits of document management software

Paperless policy management benefits the environment, and it can also benefit your organization.

Document management software such as PowerDMS simplifies the process of creating, updating, and filing documents.

It cuts costs and reduces the time and energy required to effectively manage policies and other important documents.

Here are just a few of the ways paperless policy management software can benefit your organization:

Go paperless

Paper-based document management systems come with a lot of risks and hassles. Statistics show that around 3% of company documents get misfiled, and 7% go missing.

Paper documents can also easily get damaged or destroyed.

A catastrophic event such as a fire or flood is hard to recover from in any case. But if all your company’s documents and records are paper-based, such an event could cause your organization to go under.

Paperless policy management, on the other hand, provides a central, secure location for all your organization’s documents.

With PowerDMS’s cloud storage, you can securely access documents by logging in from any device. Your important records are safe, even if something were to happen to your office space or computers.

Paperless policy management means less paper and printing. And, in turn, less waste and less harm to the environment.

Each PowerDMS customer saves an average of 325,000 pieces of paper by switching to paperless policy management software. That’s almost 40 trees per customer.


Save money

Along with being bad for the environment, printing is expensive.

According to The Paperless Project, U.S. companies spend more than $120 billion a year on printed forms, most of which are outdated within three months.

Along with the cost of paper, ink, and other printing supplies, paper file storage can also be expensive.

Experts estimate that a four-draw file cabinet takes up to 9 square feet of office space, which may add up to roughly $1,500 each year in rent.

Plus, companies that produce high volumes of paperwork may need to hire additional administrative personnel just to help maintain files.

Lost or misfiled documents can eat up valuable man hours. It’s estimated that every misfiled document costs $125, and a lost document can cost more than $350 in man hours to replace.

A paperless policy management may seem like a large investment up front, but it can save your organization thousands of dollars in the long run.

On average, PowerDMS customers have saved $9,775. All told, PowerDMS customers have saved almost $25 million in paper and printing costs alone.

Simplify how employees access crucial information

An IDC report found that the average employee spends roughly 30% of their time looking for information. That takes away from the time that employee spends doing their job. It makes it harder for them to quickly address customer questions or needs.

Paperless policy management makes it incredibly simple for employees to find the information they need.

Employees can securely access policies and procedures from any device – inside or outside the office.

Policy management software also makes it easy to review and update policies. Company leaders can collaborate on documents, and administrators have full version control to see who has viewed and edited each document.

They can also set up workflows to simplify the approval process.

Once a document is finalized, administrators can distribute it to all employees with the just the click of a button.

They can make sure employees only see the most up-to-date version, and gather employee signatures to make sure everyone has read and acknowledged the document.

Increase compliance

Especially in highly regulated industries, paper policy management can bring up many compliance issues.

Employees may not be able to find the proper procedure and end up skipping a crucial step.

Important deadlines for certifications or record retention may get overlooked. Employees may be unaware of important industry standards or regulations.

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Paperless policy management helps your organization stay in compliance by ensuring your documents are up-to-date, and employees have the information they need.

A document management system can ensure that all employees sign off on policies. In systems such as PowerDMS, administrators can even track changes in industry regulations, and set up automatic reminders for important deadlines.

Where to begin

Going paperless can feel like an overwhelming prospect.

It’s true that there will be an adjustment period – your company likely won’t go completely paperless overnight.

But paperless policy management is a worthwhile investment in the long run. And you can start that process today by moving your company’s most important policies and documents into a policy management software.

PowerDMS’s policy management software can help your organization cut costs, reduce waste, and streamline document management. It’s time to invest in your company’s future by implementing paperless policy management.

Paper is one of three types of policy management systems. Digital tools like PowerDMS are another. Learn more about the three types, as well their pros and cons.

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