Digitization – Finally no more paper

Role: I was the leader who removed the paper

Project goal

The company was swimming in paper. Everything was printed out, pushed around, lost, finally found, dealt with at some time and filed in a folder where it could hopefully be found if it was ever needed again.

Paper filled folders everywhere
Paper filled folders everywhere

It was impossible to know how much “stuff” was happening in the business as it was all buried in piles of papers on people’s desks or in their drawers or in their briefcases. Tasks could just be forgotten about until it was too late and it was impossible to know who was doing what and at which stage they were without asking the individuals.

Paper had to be transported to the tax advisor, copied in to their system, returned to the office, filed away and kept in expensive storage space for ten years to satisfy the local tax law. If a document was at a local office it was not available at head office and if some one needed it for home office they had to take a copy home.

This was not the way to run an efficient business. The decision was to digitize everything and completely avoid paper.


Stage one was to stop the paper arriving by agreeing with as many business partners as possible to exchange contracts, invoices, etc. only digitally. Some companies and particularly bureaucrats could not or would not change so anything that arrived as paper was scanned at reception and the original thrown in a box. Within the company only digital documents were in use.

We selected and implemented a software that allowed us to add tasks, delegate them to employees and track them. If an invoice arrived it was attached to a task for accounting. If a customer wrote a letter it was digitized and a task created for customer support. If a customer rang, customer support wrote notes in the system while on the phone and either closed the task at the end of the call or delegated it to someone who could. There could be a hundred open tasks but everything was digital and obvious.

The new system was implemented person by person. Those who were excited to try converted first. Employees who were less willing to abandon paper were coached and cajoled until they adjusted. The “people” side of the project needed the most effort.

Together with the tax advisor we converted to a new software, and informed the financial authorities that we would only be working from digitized documents which we would be filing for ten years.

The offices really looked like this - every day.
The offices really looked like this – every day.

It was now possible for any one to work from anywhere. Home office worked seamlessly. The managers had a real time overview of the work load and of any tasks that were “stuck”. If a customer or partner rang, everyone had all the information about his “ticket” on their monitor immediately.

And the best was there were no more cupboards, drawers or files smelling of moldy paper and maybe hiding the next disaster.

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