Paperlite Journey

This year’s theme for World Environment Day on is 7 Billion Dreams. 1 Planet. Consume with Care.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says:

  • dreaming is the first step towards actualising a Future We Want.
  • imagine what 7 billion dreams can do when they come true?
  • it starts with individual action. That leads to collective power…and translates to a rapid change across the globe.

I live in a way to help build an environmentally sustainable world. Examples of this include: being a wildlife carer for local community groups of the Australian Conservation Council; being an active recycler for a very long time. Years ago my husband and I made monthly trips to all the different recycling depots (one for metals, one for paper, one for plastics) to drop off our recycling because there were no pickups in those days.

I truly believe our individual actions make a difference. So, when the A/Sate Archivist asked for volunteers to make Queensland State Archives ‘paperlite’ I eagerly raised my hand and ended up leading the project team.

QSA going paperlite helped me fulfil both a personal and professional dream.

So what is paperlite I hear you ask?

It’s reviewing and streamlining business processes to help reduce duplication and to remove unnecessary costs for printing and other materials.

Today technologies are emerging that change business cultures and trends. People are reading information online and sharing documents and photos through social media tools. Yet, I still see so much paper.

From my own personal perspective it’s not sustainable to continually use masses of paper.

QSA however, had other reasons for going PaperLite:

  • Queensland Government’s GoDigital agenda
  • Born Digital Stay Digital initiative – more information will be available about this in the future.
  • Reviewing internal business processes – what services and processes could we improve and make more efficient.

As project lead, I established a working group of 13 people from across QSA. The major theme was – it’s not paperless, it’s paperlite and we had to do this within a 4 month period!! No mean feat I can assure you.

Some of QSA’s big wins include:

  • reduced printing by 84%
  • reduced filing cabinets by 62%
  • reduced the printing of agendas, minutes, reports; meeting minutes saved to eDRMS
  • increased the use of technology
  • wifi to support e-meetings
  • reformed paper-heavy processes

Why would you want to follow in our footsteps?

The State Government is moving towards digital service delivery but many agencies still rely heavily on paper-based technologies for capturing information that is born digitally.

Before you start on the paperlite journey though, think seriously about:

  • how to capture your electronic records? For example, do you have an eDRMS, business system or another way of keeping and managing your records electronically?
  • imperative to have senior executive drive paperlite
  • whether records are covered by a current retention and disposal schedule
  • making best use of existing technology and arranging upgrades where necessary
  • how to communicate and manage change
  • quick wins, eg a cleanup day.

Going paperlite may help you:

  • reduce your operating costs (less paper, toner, storage)
  • streamline your business processes to create efficiencies and reduce red tape
  • improve information sharing
  • create mobile working and use technology better
  • improve electronic recordkeeping
  • reduce environmental impacts of paper and printing (YEAH!!)
  • remove clutter and create efficient work environments.

How can you go paperlite?

While printers aren’t going to become obsolete in the near future, steps you can take to reduce your paper usage include –

  • Have buy-in from senior executive
  • Build an awareness about PaperLite across the organisation
  • Assess current paper use, storage and information management practices
  • Review business processes to reduce use of paper
  • Set PaperLite targets, eg reduced paper use, reduced storage requirements
  • Measure progress and seek staff feedback
  • Reward success.

35810048_sWhat I have learnt from the exercise?

To make sure paperlite is part of the ongoing Executive agenda. As I walk around today, I’m a little surprised that our paper usage has increased and old habits creeping back in. In part this is because our ICT upgrade hasn’t been finalised.

So, for my part in World Environmental Day 2015 – I’m sending out the message:

Who out there in Queensland agencies have gone on a paperlite journey? Let me and others know how it went.

Ruth Dickson

Principal Appraisal Archivist

7 thoughts on “Paperlite Journey

  1. Great start Ruth – we introduced “cloud” printing 12 months ago and reduced the MFD fleet by half. We also cut printing costs by 40% – users now have to walk to a printer and download the docs from their personal printing “queue” within 24 hours of sending it to the printer. Amazingly 30% of docs sent for printing never get collected and are automatically deleted from the cloud. EDRMS Workflows and other business application workflows are also being used to reduce reliance on paper. The need for “wet” signatures or perceived need is usually the biggest hurdle. If QSA could assist with myth busting in this area, it would be a considerable help to organisations on the Paperlite journey.

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  5. Hi Ruth, Great post. I have been asked to assist business units within our agency that wish to become “paperlite”. At first I thought this was going to be impossible as we have not implemented the “electronic” part of our eDRMS. We only use it for managing paper records. However in thinking about it I have come to believe there are ways that we can prepare for eDRMS by reducing the paper we create and understanding our business practices better.
    Thank you for your ideas. Michelle

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