In any business it’s no mystery that paperwork can slow you down. Whether it’s having to pull information from a filing cabinet, copy a file for a coworker to review, or mail documents out to another division or company, the time and costs involved add up quickly. The key question that companies face today is: How do you manage all that paper in a way that doesn’t slow down your business processes? The challenge is to achieve instant access to business critical information in a cost model that makes sense.

Some methods intended to eliminate paper are increasingly inefficient, labor intensive and drain corporate resources. One option that many companies consider is implementing document management technology by purchasing, installing and supporting an in-house infrastructure.

Often, this approach ends up over budget while under-delivering results. It’s important to recognize that up-front costs are actually small compared to ongoing personnel requirements to operate the system and to service end-users. In fact, the total cost over a three-year period is estimated to be a multiple of 6 to 10 times the initial software and hardware costs.

In addition, many organizations find themselves with limited resources, particularly in their IT functions. Businesses want to strategically focus valuable IT resources on core competencies rather than becoming proficient at operating a comprehensive, robust document management infrastructure and its associated support requirements. Any enterprise considering deploying an in-house solution needs to evaluate whether this fits within the broader strategic objectives of the organization.

Any enterprise considering deploying an in-house solution needs to evaluate whether this fits within the broader strategic objectives of the organization.

An alternative approach has emerged. Today, more and more companies are turning to Software-as-a-Service solutions to more efficiently manage their paper. These solutions provide instant access to business-critical information through the Web. They are cost-efficient and eliminate the large up-front investments in infrastructure in order to get up and running. This approach provides a more appealing alternative for many companies as they see such solutions as having outsourced the “paper problem” while retaining control of the “business solution.”

Organizations that utilize a SaaS solution can strategically focus on their core business initiatives rather than integrating and managing an internal infrastructure. The end result is the ability to streamline business processes, eliminating risk, driving out costs and increasing efficiencies.

One solution that companies are implementing is a virtual file room, which makes it possible for departments or entire enterprises to quickly begin managing content to increase efficiency, improve productivity, reduce operating costs and free resources for higher value tasks that increase revenue and enhance customer service. A virtual file room offers an intuitive, customized experience to meet your document processing needs without having to buy, install or maintain software or hardware of any kind. This approach enables you to make the shift to the paperless and experience the benefits without a large upfront investment.