How Intranets Can Cut the Corporate Paper Trails


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 How Intranets can Cut the Corporate Paper Trail  

 

 

 

 

The typical corporation generates mounds and mounds of paper every day-potentially many tons a year. This is bad for the environment, costly for the corporation, and unnecessarily time-consuming because it requires the company to hire people to maintain and keep track of the paper trail. There are forms that have to be filled out and handled, marketing materials, sales materials and brochures to mail out, sales forms that need to be entered…the list can go on for a long time.

All this paper has many hidden costs-it's not merely the cost of paper that is involved. There are a variety of overhead costs as well. There are sky-high mailing costs. There are often high costs for storing historical material. There is an even more pernicious cost-paperwork causes red tape, and the handling of all that paper slows down how a business can operate and can put it at a competitive disadvantage.

While the "paperless office" has been talked about and pursued for at least a decade, the advent of intranets can finally bring it closer to reality. A combination of communications technologies, Web publishing tools, workgroup applications, and e-mail can cut down on paper costs, help slash mail costs, help eliminate administrative overhead, and allow corporations to react more quickly to business changes and deliver goods and services more quickly to their customers.

The area where paper costs can be cut most-and procedures most streamlined-may be the sales and marketing department. In every aspect of making a sale, from marketing and advertising through making sales calls, to making the sale and then fulfilling the order, paper costs and associated expenses can be cut.

By posting marketing materials on the Web and drawing customers to the site, companies can print fewer expensive marketing materials, such as brochures. Many companies include Business Reply Cards in their marketing materials that people can use to request additional information. Business Reply Cards have many costs associated with them: printing, mailing, and then fulfillment-inputting the person's name into the computer system, then having someone mail out the additional materials. On the Web site, customers can fill out requests for materials. That request is automatically routed to the intranet, where it is sent to the fulfillment department. This cuts down on the printing and mailing costs that Business Reply Cards carry, as well as input costs, since the customer inputs the request, instead of someone employed at the company. A traveling sales staff can input orders on an electronic form on a laptop computer, and then later send that form back to the intranet, again saving on paper and administrative costs.

Internal paper costs can be cut as well. Company newsletters and communications can be posted on an intranet Web server or sent via e-mail. Personnel manuals can be posted as well. Forms for doing things such as requesting time off can be filled out electronically instead of on paper-again, cutting down on paper, overhead, and red tape.

How Intranets Can Cut the Corporate Paper Trail

One of the many benefits of an intranet is that it can cut the amount of paper and paperwork used by corporations, often dramatically. It can streamline corporate procedures and have them done electronically, instead of via paper. And it can also more directly communicate with its customers without having to resort to paper and mailing. Pictured here is an example of how a fictional record company, CyberMusic, uses an intranet to cut paper costs.

  • CyberMusic employs a sales staff to sell its records to record stores and other outlets, and they carry laptop computers when they travel. Formerly, in order to know the full stock of what records the company carries, they would have to refer to printed material, which easily became outdated. Now, they dial into their company intranet, and access a Web page that contains the up-to-date catalog. When they visit their sales accounts, they can link to the page as well.
  • When the mobile sales staff takes an order, they previously had to fill out paper forms, and then send those forms to the data processing department, where the forms would be typed into the sales system. With the advent of the company intranet, the sales staff fills out an electronic sales form while on a sales visit. The form is then sent via electronic mail to the company intranet, where it is routed automatically to the fulfillment and accounting departments. Previously, paper forms had to be routed among all the departments, wasting time and money.
  • At CyberMusic, a great deal of paper material was generated in sending brochures and related documents directly to customers. CyberMusic has a public Web site, which cuts down on the number of brochures sent out, since people can get information about the company, its records and recording artists directly from the Web. An added bonus is that customers can listen to sound clips as well.
  • CyberMusic used to regularly include extra Business Reply Cards in much of the material it mailed out, so that people could request additional information about the company or its records. Now, people can fill out a form on the company's Web site requesting information, saving on paper and mailing costs. The information is sent via a CGI script to the fulfillment department.
  • Personnel matters used to be handled solely by paper. Printing and distribution costs were high. And when people wanted to take vacations or time off, they would have to fill out a paper form. This form would be sent to the personnel department, which would check against a database whether the person had enough vacation time, and then would type the information into a personnel system. Now electronic personnel manuals are available online. And when people fill out forms such as requesting vacations, they fill out the form on the intranet themselves. Thanks to a CGI script, they can search through part of their personnel records to see how much vacation time they have left.
  • The company newsletter and other internal communications had previously been mailed to every CyberMusic employee. Now the newsletter is posted on an intranet Web server, and updated frequently, and other kinds of communications are handled via electronic mail.
  • CyberMusic is an international corporation with branch offices on every continent. When employees need to share memos, sales reports, letters, and other printed materials, they used to be sent via interoffice mail or via overnight express services- generating tons of paper and costing a substantial amount of money. Now, people send each other information, reports, and memos via intranet e-mail.
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
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