Concepts + Uses: Costs + Risks of Paper Forms


The costs and risks of forms even surprised us.

Unstructured forms are everywhere in your organization — in file cabinets, on shared drives, on portals and in many other places. In fact, up to 80 percent of all the documents you process and scan are forms. Some are paper and some are electronic, like Word files, and it’s difficult to get them into your content management (ECM) and other systems to make the data usable. Usually it requires time-consuming manual tasks that delay key business routines. In addition to process-related headaches, unstructured forms also introduce costs and risks that are steep — as these and other studies have uncovered.

There are real advantages to being truly paperless from start to finish.

According to industry research, paper forms are likely costing you tens of thousands of dollars each year. Possibly much more. Let’s consider the results from a recent survey1. Just one form on a piece of paper costs an organization $4.56 on average prior to processing it. Scanning and electronically storing printed forms in an ECM system adds an average cost of $2.84 to that number — 30-50 percent less than paper-only processing, but still an expense. Only by replacing traditional ECM capture technologies with a 100 percent electronic approach can you completely eliminate the impact of paper forms.

Why introduce risks that your organization just can’t afford?

Ninety percent of respondents in a recent survey2 said it’s certain or very likely that sensitive or secret documents were lost or leaked in the past year. If you consider that forms typically contain more personal and confidential information than any other type of document, safeguarding them should be your top priority. Only with the right e-forms platform can you ensure that critical content is secured and managed from the start, accessed just by authenticated users, sent directly into secure repositories, and tracked throughout its lifecycle.

1Process-Critical Forms and the Mobile Workforce—Making the Digital Savings,, 2012.
2Confidential Documents at Risk Study, Ponemon Institute, July 2012.