The paper problem is not getting smaller!
With so much focus in recent years on saving our planet, there is a conscious effort by individuals and corporates to cut down on use of paper to reduce deforestation which is one of the main environmental problems. Shoppers are switching to reusable bags, newspapers are going digital, service providers are using paperless documents – the list goes on and on. However, despite the electronic revolution, we are still a long way from eliminating paper from our day to day lives in a big way – in fact, demand for paper is expected to double before 2030!
Let’s take a look at a few facts to highlight the magnitude of the issue:
- It takes an average of 5 liters of water to produce one piece of A4 paper.
- 93% of paper comes from trees.
- 14% of all global wood harvest is used to make paper
- 50% of the waste of businesses is composed of paper.
- Every tree produces enough oxygen for 3 people to breathe.
Why is paper still a big part of organizational processes
The use of paper is ingrained within organizational processes – be it for maintaining records, recording internal approvals, documenting legal agreements, invoicing – the list is limitless. Traditional audit and forensic investigation methods have always followed the “paper trail” – basically sifting through documents to link associated records that tell the full story of a transaction or event!
Most jurisdictions have laws around retention periods for all business documents that can range from 7 to 10 years. This gave birth to a whole new industry that caters to the demand for document storage solutions – their services range from filing and cataloging documents, transporting documents from clients, storing documents in warehouses, retrieval of documents and finally securely destroying documents. Therefore, in addition to the natural resources that are expended in manufacturing the paper, many other (wasted) resources are spent in organizing, transporting, storing and destroying paper documents.
In recent years, a lot of the document storage solutions have evolved into electronic storage, but the problem with these is that the underlying documents are still paper. The idea is basically to scan paper documents and store them electronically, such that they can be retrieved later when needed. Though this saves on physical storage and makes it somewhat easier to retrieve documents, it consumes tremendous disk storage and isn’t really an ideal solution.
How can treasury and finance processes go green
The real solution lies in redesigning entire processes such that all recording and documentation is done electronically so that the need for paper can be eliminated altogether (for the most part!). Let’s discuss some of the key attributes that these electronic processes need to possess to be able to replace paper altogether.
- Signatures – one of the main reason paper documents have been hard to replace is due to the ability for them to be signed by individuals that proves beyond a reasonable doubt their agreement, acceptance, acknowledgement or approval and is enforceable in a court of law. Similarly, digital alternatives need to be as reliable and as difficult (if not more!) to fake. Digital signatures and secure logins are popular solutions being used for this today – the security and encryption for such applications need to be robust enough for the associated records and documents to be enforceable as legally binding.
- Audit trail – various electronic records should be linked to related documents and records and the sequence of events must be retrievable, so that any transaction can be researched or audited at a future point in time. In other words there must exist a robust electronic trail structure that can replace the need for a paper trail.
- Secure storage and accessibility – since all electronic records are store on disk storage, there must be a system for security and access controls to reflect the sensitivity of the documents and records. In case of physical documents, regular documents might be stored in drawers, but highly sensitive documents would be store in a safe which is accessible only by a select few – an electronic records and documents system must be able to replicate a similar security structure!
- Referenced libraries – electronic libraries must have the ability to efficiently catalog and file documents and records, such that they can be retrieved at a later point easily and quickly.
Roadblocks to going green
Most modern day electronic processing solutions do offer some or all of these features and are generally more efficient than the paper based processes, so to a large extent there is also a mindset issue that needs to be overcome before we can eliminate use of paper. In addition, there is often the upfront cost of implementing automated solutions that can act as a deterrent for many organizations – paper based processes are cheaper to get started with even though in the long run they prove much more cumbersome and resource intensive than their electronic alternatives!
How the Medullus LeanCash™ Solution gets you to a Greener Treasury
Our LeanCash™ offering “I Need It” is an integrated workflow and business process management solution geared towards corporate treasury and finance teams – it can handle internal and external processes and collaboration protocols and manages all supported processes in a totally paperless way.
- Access controls include secure login, optional dual factor authentication, ability to integrate with internal single sign on platform of the organization and periodic forced password resets.
- Each workflow is backed by a detailed log of every action along the way – which can be traced all the way to the associated records and document sets
- Inbuilt robust reporting platform that that provides visibility into various components related to the underlying processes.
- Integrated document management system that stores various documents collected and generated within the underlying processes – each document can be linked back to the original transaction or event. Documents are well catalogued using relevant tags making it easy to search and retrieve documents as and when needed.
Ideal candidates for using I Need It would be cross functional and intra-functional processes in treasury and finance such as bank administration, funding approvals, requesting bank guarantees/letters of credit, FX trade requests and many more.
Medullus Geek Speak
Technical Architecture of our Lean Cash solutions are nimble … they are modular and API driven. This helps user requests to be render quickly – which saves energy (and not to mention frustration!). Although we use plug and play solutions which are generic, we use our years of programming knowledge to cut the excess code that is not required.
For example – we use Xamarin for our mobility solutions – it is a part of Microsoft’s visual studio suite and it delivers forms for iOS, Android and Windows platforms. If your user bases are iPhone users only then our LeanCash™ Team will only deliver the iOS portion of the code – easy to maintain, quicker to render and overall a greener solution !
We at Medullus are doing our bit to save our planet!
Medullus LeanCash™ is a tried-and-tested solution that draws upon lean concepts to streamline Corporate Treasury by eliminating waste in processes and functions which helps to manage liquidity and risks in the most optimal way.
Our products and services are geared towards making improvements in Treasury & Finance processes to bring big gains with minimal impact. The low hanging fruit is sometimes difficult to find in a large organization with myriad of processes and systems. Take the 1st step in identifying these high value/low risk improvements – get your LeanCash score, benchmark against other organizations that have obtained their score and improved them. It does not cost anything to find out where you are as compared to industry-best-practices!
Blog post by: Tejnain Singh. Reach Tej @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Tej is a seasoned treasury and finance professional with over 17 years of extensive experience across organizations like GE, Deloitte, SABIC and Valeant Pharma. He has held senior positions in treasury operations and cash management and has led multiple strategic initiatives in the areas of payment automation, treasury system implementations, business process simplification and shared financial services among many others. Tej is a Chartered Accountant from India.