Documenting the Real Costs of Paper Processing

By NE Docs | June 26, 2017

Documenting the Real Cost of Paper Processing

When thinking about the word “document,” what do you first visualize? It’s likely that most people think of a standard sized piece of paper – a printed page containing words – a message, data; a printed record. Slowly but surely however, minds are beginning to shift from considering documents as printed pages to instead, digital files.

Microsoft Word, “WYSIWYG” editor dashboards and PDF file formats have transformed the way we prepare, save and store documents. This has been happening for a couple of decades and finally the idea of “documents” and “document management” is changing.

Thinking of documents as fluid yet securely manageable files is finally taking hold in the business world. More and more people are discovering that buying, stocking, printing and managing all that paper costs companies big money and that so much document printing is entirely unnecessary.

Dollars and Sense!

According to SAP, “On average, it costs businesses $12.90 to process a single invoice” and we believe that number could be higher for organizations that haven’t instituted any sort of business-class document processing system. SAP’s research also states that AP Automation “delivers an average of 29% reduction in invoice processing costs, which can translate to $300,000 per year for an organization that processes up to 10,000 invoices per month.” Again, we believe this may be a conservative estimate.

Now consider paper check payments which are still widely used across the enterprise spectrum. We recently made the case for reducing paper check payments in a previous post where we illustrated the waste and unnecessary costs associated with both receiving and paying by checks.

New Hampshire-based Bottomline Technologies partnered with the Association for Financial Professionals® (AFP) in 2015 to develop a report detailing a comprehensive analysis of paper check processing costs. The report documents comparisons showing the drastic difference between various electronic payments and check processing. This study makes it clear that paper checks incur significantly higher costs than electronic payments. The key findings include:

  • Sending a paper check is 10 times more expensive than the internal or external cost of sending and receiving an ACH payment.
  • Receiving a paper check is more than 5 times as expensive as receiving an ACH payment.
  • The median cost of sending a paper check is $3.00 while receiving a paper check is $1.57.
  • The median internal cost for sending and receiving ACH payments is $0.29 and the median external cost for sending and receiving ACH payments is $0.27.
  • 79% of organizations surveyed are seeking to convert paper checks to electronic payments.
  • 88% of organizations say their primary driver for converting to electronics payments is to increase efficiency. Of those, 82% for cost reduction and 60% for fraud prevention.

Why move mountains?

The AP Automation and Check Processing examples represent only two areas of business where paper reduction or elimination can lead to game-changing efficiencies and cost savings. Think of all the other documentation needs of your organization such as Human Resources, Operations and Shipping & Receiving. Virtual mountains of paper are being pushed and moved needlessly every day by countless workers and all these departments can benefit significantly from going paperless.


A top to bottom review or your organization’s continued paper document management costs may reveal some great opportunities to transform your company into a more efficient machine. The technology is ready and waiting for firms that haven’t yet gone paperless.

Think about it. With digital files, documents can be automatically routed according to information gathered. Tasks or other processes can be initiated based on predefined criteria. There is never a need for a person to physically distribute (and potentially misplace) important documents. Most business tasks today do not require paper so why incur the expense and waste time with it?

The paperless office makes it easier and less expensive to:

  • Create secure and accessible document and image repositories.
  • Capture and index documents automatically.
  • Search and retrieve documents from any platform.
  • Record and document workflow and approval processes.
  • Leverage entered data – web and internal network forms to improve services.

We hope this article has made clear what too much paper use may be costing your organization. The opportunities for increasing profits could be huge!

If you have any questions about how to implement a clean, sustainable and highly efficient paperless organization, feel free to contact us to speak with a document management specialist.

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