Paper or paperless?

A recent article from Xero explained the main reasons why paper is still in common use for keeping a record of business matters. These reasons as cited by Xero are:

  • Government requirements
    If the government tells you that you must keep paper records, you don’t have much choice. But it doesn’t happen often these days. Most government departments understand that digital documents are just as good.
  • Legal necessity
    If you’re applying for a loan or selling your business, signed paperwork is often a necessity. But lawyers are increasingly going paperless, so this practice is dying out.
  • Permanence and convenience
    Some paper documents have been around for centuries and can still be read today. By contrast, some computer records from 20 years ago can’t be accessed at all. So for a long life, paper can still seem like a good choice. But digital storage methods are stabilising and improving. Formats like PDF and JPEG will outlast many of the businesses that use them.
  • The way it feels
    People like the way paper feels (psychologists call this ‘haptic perception’) and the fact that it’s a real, physical item. Sometimes information inside a computer or the cloud doesn’t seem so real. But this is changing as people grow up with computers being part of their lives.
  • Cost
    Paper is cheap and easy to distribute. However, that’s only part of the story. Once you start paying for printers, toner, servicing, maintenance, connectivity, cabling, user support and all the other associated costs, paper starts to look more expensive. And that’s before you consider the cost of document storage.

The article, which was written in the context of going ‘paperless’ concludes “at least some of the reasons why we still use paper are historical and personal – not logical”.

Leave a Comment