Though electronic billing has become the normal way to perform transactions today, there are still many industries in which paper billing is important.
Healthcare providers, banks, and utility companies, are just a few examples of work fields that are required to have paper billing methods.
You can’t deny the efficiency and the countless benefits that come with paperless billing.
Then, why do we continue to use paper documentation and filing systems?
Well, the reasons vary by company and industry.
Many times, the reasons include a monetary and/or time investment.
When switching from paper to paperless, there is a transition period where employees must take time to learn the new software.
Is the upfront investment more costly, though?
With the global paper and pulp industry being worth over $348 billion, it’s safe to say there’s an argument to be made for going paperless.
And that’s exactly what we’ll be exploring below.
Switching your company or organization to paperless billing is no easy task.
So, here, we’ll be covering some practical and actionable steps you can follow to switch to a paperless billing system.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is Paperless Billing?
- Top Benefits of Paperless Billing
- 5 Simple Steps To Switch to Paperless Billing in Your Business
What is Paperless Billing?
The term paperless billing is somewhat self-explanatory.
It’s a form of billing that doesn’t use paper.
The traditional form of billing, paper billing, involves returning a piece of paper documenting the transaction to the customer. This includes things like paper invoices, receipts, checks, and so on.
As the world has become more digital, electronic billing systems have made a strong argument for fully replacing the former system.
Utilizing electronic billing allows invoices to be sent and paid electronically. This allows the customer to receive bills through email, web portal, or even in different machine-readable data formats.
Here’s how that works.
Electronic document and record management systems (EDRMS)
An electronic document and record management system (EDRMS) is a platform that enables businesses to process documents automatically.
This is essentially the software that allows for practical paperless billing practices.
It is responsible for the entire billing process, from invoicing and payment to document storage without taking up much space.
If you’re looking for more info on the mechanism that makes paperless billing possible, be sure to check out our full guide to switching from physical documents to electronic document and record management systems.
Now, let’s explore some practical benefits that come with paperless billing.
Top Benefits of Paperless Billing
Paperless billing is a big investment, yes.
Chances are, even if you wanted to, you couldn’t suddenly switch your company to paperless billing by the end of the day.
It takes weeks, if not months.
But as you’re about to see below, the benefits are well worth it.
The truth is, for most companies, the benefits of transitioning to electronic billing far outweigh the headache at the beginning.
And a lot of this is based on document generation API that integrates into your workflow system to automate most (if not all) of your documentation processes.
Let’s take a look at the benefits you’ll most enjoy, such as:
- Saving money and storage.
- Streamlining important business procedures.
- Optimizing document management for easy and convenient access.
- Making employees more efficient in their operations.
- Implementing self-service document retrieval for your customers.
- Leveraging advanced automation capabilities.
- Enhancing customer data protection and security.
- Protecting important documents from getting lost or destroyed.
- Easily complying with industry regulations and security standards.
Now, here's what you need to know about each.
1. Saving money and storage
According to McKinsey, 59% of businesses going paperless achieved full ROI in less than 12 months. While 84% achieved payback in less than 18 months.
The obvious reasoning behind this is that you’re not utilizing physical storage or locations.
The average office worker makes around 61 trips per week to the fax machine, printer, copier, and so on. As short as the trip may be, it adds up week over week.
And according to Docuphase, an average of 4 weeks is lost each year waiting on misfiled, mislabeled, untracked, or lost documents.
Going paperless eliminates all the manual work and saves a lot of money and storage in the long run.
2. Streamlining important business processes
Business operations become automatic when you can create workflows and processes based on your paperless systems.
The software also allows you to access a file in seconds with search features.
Which means you can create documents automatically.
For example, through paperless billing systems, insurance companies can automate the following documentation processes:
- Insurance request forms.
- Data processing consent requests.
- Car policy insurance templates.
- Regular insurance communication templates.
- Insurance bills.
- Certificate of property insurance.
- Certificate of liability insurance templates.
- And more.
For more information on using automated document generation and insurance templates, see here: 8 Types of Insurance Docs to Handle Automatically in the Insurance Documentation Process.
3. Optimizing document management
With these systems, you can easily access, edit, change, and redistribute files.
You can also have multiple people access the document at a time.
Large part of what makes paperless billing possible is remote secure document management. Especially in the age of remote work.
4. Making your employees more efficient in their operations
The reason some people still favor paper billing over the alternative is that they "want to see it in their hand".
However, paper billing and documents are not only outdated but also extremely time-consuming.
Paper time cards steal 10 minutes per employee every day. Endless searches of file cabinets may take hours.
Therefore, time effectiveness is one of the key benefits of going paperless in business.
5. Implement self-service for your customers
The use of e-forms and autofill of existing customer information reduces the time per customer request. It also allows the customer to sign and complete all actions of a document without help.
6. Leverage advanced automation capabilities
Automated business operations and consumer communications allow you to stay ahead of your competitors while creating a high level of customer satisfaction.
Whether it’s file format conversion or workplace process automation, electronic document and records management systems often provide a bespoke solution based on your unique operations and requirements.
This can be simple file conversion tasks (e.g. converting from HTML to PDF en masse), or a fully automated PDF generation system.
7. Enhanced customer data protection
Paper access to documents can result in loss of the document or even put someone at the risk of identity theft.
Electronic storage comes with the ability to implement password protection to ensure safety.
This ensures quality data management and allows you to verify your document data.
For progressive data management best practices, you should:
- Be mindful of your cyber and document security.
- Be ethically gathering and storing information.
- Verify your data.
- Invest in smart management solutions.
8. Protect documents from getting lost or destroyed
Many businesses that lose their data are forced to close.
When using paperless technology, you can create digital copies of your files and documents to ensure nothing gets destroyed.
9. Easily comply with regulations
The Protection of Personal Information Bill (POPI) requires all companies to destroy customers’ records after a certain period.
According to the GDPR, EU and EEA citizens must be able to access and erase all personal information stored by a company.
Paperless technology allows you to collect all personal information and communications in one place. While at the same time being able to manage, edit, or organize as needed, based on your document lifecycle process.
If GDPR and industry security standard compliance is an essential part of your billing and operations, you should know that Inkit Render provides a document generation system with total control over the security.
Data security breaches and regulatory noncompliance almost always start with uncertain storage & manual export processes. With Inkit, you're not leaving the safety of your documents to chance as you can fully automate the whole process with complete customization of document templates
5 Simple Steps To Switch to Paperless Billing in Your Business
Now that you’ve gained an overview of how paperless billing works and why it’s so important, let’s take a more practical look at switching to paperless billing.
Most likely, this will be a change that might take some time, and there are many different ways that you could approach this.
Your strategy will change based on your industry, office, employees, and overall operational procedures.
With that said, here’s a potential overview of how a business used to paper billing can go paperless:
1. Determine your company-wide needs
Before you take the leap and try to transition to a paperless management system, you need to determine what is needed throughout your company. Having a clear list of requirements will help you find software that is a good fit for your employees.
It will also help you create an action plan to help your team transition in a smooth and organized manner.
Start your assessment by determining goals and areas of improvement within each department that need addressing.
Make a note of how an electronic system can streamline these processes.
Also, it might be worth keeping an idea of how much and how often paper is used in each department.
Once you start looking at the numbers, you’ll start noticing certain inefficiencies, down to the numbers and data.
2. Establish a company-wide paperless strategy
Many companies choose to create their strategy based on making small changes first.
This may look like switching to electronic bills for customers or another smaller digital change. Prioritizing customer service and organization will be a priority to ensure that customers are able to receive bills and pay accordingly.
If you’re looking to present this strategy to the CFO or other financial leader within the business, try showing how profitable the paperless option is. It’s true that in the beginning, the upfront expense and training can be daunting.
If you show profitability in the long run, then paperless billing is usually the more profitable option.
Global statistics indicate that paperless billing is indeed more profitable in the long term for most companies.
3. Introduce and educate employees
Any new change to a workflow or process can be overwhelming for employees because they’re going to be required to complete training.
When you introduce your new program to the employees, try to explain your process for transition as simply and thoroughly as possible.
Try providing educational materials that will help them understand the benefits and what to expect.
4. Implement a practical paperless workflow
The goal of any workflow is to streamline processes and make them as simple as possible.
When you first begin your transition, it can feel daunting trying to scan papers into the cloud.
Where do you start?
Try beginning with creating some type of system, by client name, year, etc., and ensure that everyone follows this exact system. When all of your electronic statements are compliant, the whole process becomes much smoother for everyone involved.
After you develop your system for scanning your papers, make sure you divide the work evenly between departments. Every department will be responsible for its files. If your files are “expired,” or older than however many years you decide, then go ahead and shred them.
Once the process is started, decide on a goal date of when each department should have their files organized and uploaded into the software.
Then, check in often to ensure there are no roadblocks along the way.
Don’t forget to inform your clients that you’ll be changing systems.
Your clients should know their documents will be received via email or through a portal from now on. They should also be trained on how to access these documents.
5. Monitor and track results and analytics
Now that you have all of your files in place, you’ll have access to the software so you can run reports and analyze your improvements.
In step one, we mentioned keeping a record of how much and how often paper is used in your departments.
Try tracking results of using a paperless management system and how it is affecting your business overall. This will show you how your employee productivity is improving, your costs are going down, and can even show you minor areas of improvement.
Over time, continue to improve these areas for maximum productivity.
Reaping The Many Benefits Of Paperless Billing
Hope this guide to paperless billing was helpful!
The transition to a paperless billing system can be daunting, especially when running a large corporation.
Though the difficulties at the beginning of training and cost commitment can hinder the decision, the benefits far outweigh the initial headache.
As you continue to see productivity increasing and costs decreasing, your company will continue to thrive for years to come.
Now, if you’re looking to switch your organization to paperless billing, be sure to look into how Inkit Render can help you automate your document generation process and go paperless.
Render is a document automation API for HTML to PDF document rendering and generation in web platforms. You can use it to integrate directly into your system, and create, store, retrieve, and delete custom PDFs accordingly.
If you’re wondering if paperless billing is right for you or you have more questions on how Inkit Render can help your company, be sure to get in touch!