Thirty dollars per document

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It’s been analyzed by people who measure such things, and research has shown that over a document’s lifetime the cost of handling, storing and shipping a single paper document can easily reach up to $30.

The number may seem surprising until you think about all the possible costs that can be associated with handling paper.

Most obvious is the cost of paper itself. Just a few cents per page, so not a large concern. But over time, paper costs do add up.

Then there is the cost of storage. This can include everything from the cost of storage supplies like folders, filing cabinets and storage boxes, as well as the added expense of office space relegated to document storage, or off-site storage rented for a fee.

Next is the cost of shipping and routing paper. It’s clear that mailing and express delivery charges can be a significant cost factor. Less obvious, but just as important, are the efficiency losses resulting from pushing paper around. Whether its manually routing paper inside the office, or filling out shipping forms for delivery across the country, pushing paper diminishes employee productivity.

Finally, there are a host of costs associated with the simple fact that paper is difficult to control. Unlike digital files, paper documents are easily lost and then have to be recreated; paper documents are difficult to find; and paper documents are hard to secure (leading to potential risk if, for example, access to the document’s content must be controlled). Quite simply, it’s costly to manage a piece of paper.

It’s with these costs in mind, that many companies have turned to electronic document management as an alternative. A good first step is to quickly analyize your own document costs.

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