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Friday, 05 June 2015 00:27

Why is business productivity dragging?

Posted By  John O’Keeffe

John O’Keeffe, VP of EMEA at document productivity company Nitro, discusses how businesses can prevent their productivity from dragging by investing in the right software


Office workers are constantly battling clogged inboxes. In fact, the average worker sends six documents via email attachment every day while over a third receive more than ten documents themselves, according to new research from Nitro, the document productivity company, and the PDF Association.

The research, which comes from Nitro’s e-book 3 Ways to Improve Document Productivity, outlines that more than 80% of workers lose valuable time every day collaborating on documents, with seven hours per week on average spent gathering, consolidating and deciphering feedback. Seven hours is an astonishing amount of time to be spending on document administration, adding up to a full working day.

In the era of cloud computing and laptop, smartphone and tablet use, there is really no reason for workers in any business to continue adopting poor productivity practices such as using outdated software, churning through paper-based administrative tasks like printing, scanning and editing with pen and paper, or sending hundreds of email attachments back and forth.

The key document productivity killers:

  • 5 hours a week wasted on searching for documents
  • 3.5 hours a week wasted on filing and organising documents
  • 6.9 hours a week wasted on archaic document collaboration practices

In the end, sloppy work practices are not only a drain on employee morale and business productivity, but they can also result in costly and embarrassing errors.

A 2013 Harris Interactive study found 92% of workers collaborated on documents via email. This leaves the door wide open for issues like sharing the wrong version, working on an outdated draft, or the file simply getting buried at the bottom of your inbox. In fact, the Harris study of more than 1,000 knowledge workers across the US and UK showed 81% had found themselves working on the wrong version of a file.

In Nitro’s survey, only nine percent of workers were found to use cloud storage. This shows there is a clear lack of awareness about how the latest document productivity software can increase workplace efficiency. For example, tools like Nitro Cloud enable quick sign-off on contracts via e-signatures (a technology now adopted by more than 40% of surveyed workers), and document tracking which alerts you when your document has been viewed, edited and approved in real time while on the go. Both of these technologies will help save your workforce hours every day.

The study also found that only 43% of workers in large companies have a PDF editor loaded on their desktop. Small businesses lag even further behind with only 23% properly equipped. This comes down to employers not understanding the pain points employees face in their workflows and needing to invest in the right tools so their teams can focus their time and energy on doing the work that really matters.

Businesses are hit hard by the productivity bottlenecks created by lack of proper PDF editor distribution. Large corporations as well as start-ups will often purchase fewer licenses of a PDF editor than they actually require for cost reasons; this leads to a document bottleneck, where the people who require changes to a document outnumber the people who are able to make those changes.

Below are three simple ways to improve document productivity:

1. Collaborate smarter

Collaboration plays a key role in most organisations, with multiple people working together on the same documents and sharing feedback via email or even on paper.

Adopting the tools for cloud-based collaboration, means companies can eliminate paper from the equation and in turn reduce costs and resource inefficiencies. Sending documents and comments back and forth via email exacerbates overload issues and creates opportunities for error. Cloud-based tools allow for real-time collaboration, by keeping all progress and feedback easy to follow and in one place. Audit trails are also useful to conduct for maintaining security and recovering lost transactions.

2. Modernise sharing and storage

Employees habitually save documents to their desktop and/or company server for storage, and default to sharing them via email.

Documents are often “stored” in the inbox, and senders have no insight into whether the file they shared was ever viewed. Cloud-based tools track all document actions and interactions, so you always know the status of your file. Applications like Dropbox and Google Drive allow you to securely access your documents wherever you are — no waiting or lag time. Permissions features also keep your documents from falling into the wrong hands.

3. Speed up signing

The majority of workers still execute ink signatures by hand, and use scanners, printers or copiers several times every day. Nitro’s survey found that only 32% of the legal profession were recorded to use e-signatures to sign PDFs, which was the lowest of all the industries included. Banking and finance teams use e-signatures the most, though with 52% of those industries signing documents online, there is still a lot of room for improvement.

The process of printing, signing and posting signed documents and then waiting for a reply takes up an inordinate amount of time and money for businesses. Currently, it is estimated that in the US it costs $6.50 (£4.25) to process each page of a hand-signed document and more than three days to turn around a printed signature request. Add to this the average $3,000 (£1950) cost to each business for simply managing the filing cabinet full of signed documents and the expenditure starts to seem ridiculous.

For anyone wanting to run their business as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, they need look no further than cloud-based collaboration tools which modernise the way documents are sent, shared and edited. The statistics speak for themselves: companies equipped with the right document productivity software are in the best position to increase business revenue and provide the most value to their customers.

About the author

John O’Keeffe, was one of the first Nitronauts and leads a fast growing team in his role as VP EMEA. Prior to joining Nitro, John was the 9th employee of Salesforce.com EMEA in 2000 where his career continuously developed, ultimately becoming VP for SMB Sales for Europe. He has also held Customer Relationship Management positions at GE Capital & Pearson Education.


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