What A Paperless Philippines Could Look Like

November 10, 2022 by

The idea of becoming paperless calls for doing away with all paper in the workplace, at home, and in schools. This is accomplished through digitization, which involves transforming documents and other objects into digital form. Going "paperless," according to proponents, can save costs, increase output, free up storage space, facilitate information sharing and documentation, maintain the security of personal data, and benefit the environment. The idea can also be used for communications outside of the workplace. Even though paper usage has declined, it is still widely used, and few businesses are paperless.

There are a few countries that are in the process of going paperless. Dubai is the first country to go 100% paperless. They claim to have savings of around $350 million and 14 million man-hours for the government. Estonia, nearing 90% completion, has reported a drastic drop in corruption. Employees' and citizens' interactions have drastically decreased, virtually eliminating bribery. Many of the post-Soviet nations are still plagued by this problem. The country also has emerged as Europe's top startup hub because of the ease of starting a business online. 

If the Philippines should go paperless, here’s what we can expect:

Save time.
Requesting papers from other departments, looking for lost reports, or physically updating files take less time when documents are kept in the cloud rather than physical files. Through digital processes, even chores like printing meeting notes and hand-delivering them to colleagues may be done away with.

Automated processes
You may eliminate activities and steps from a project's path by automating document management processes. You may monitor a project's progress, alert the appropriate parties when a milestone is reached, and set up reminders to avoid task bottlenecks with certain staff members or divisions by setting up digital processes. Digital forms may automatically fill databases with data from both the general public and workers, eliminating the need for human data entry.

Improved data accessibility
It gets easier to retrieve your data by centralizing data storage on the cloud. Staff members can use their devices to view and update files. Instead of spending hours browsing through the municipal or barangay archives, files may be found using a straightforward search. Citizens can also get on-demand access to applications, information, and other services that formerly required a visit to a city or barangay hall, thanks to paperless processes. Governments may handle claims, applications, and licensing requests more quickly by switching to digital systems, which give residents 24/7 access to information.

Cost savings
When government organizations switch to digital document management, they may save time that would otherwise be spent manually entering data and physically managing files. Not having to print and ship documents to people can also save money, as can using online payment methods, which lower transaction processing costs.

Less office space
In the Philippines, especially in the rural area, office space to be provided for government offices is lacking, plus the need to provide in that area for physical documents occupies a large percentage. The physical space needed for a cloud-based storage system is minimal to none.

Storage security
Rodent or insect damage, leaks, dust, mold, fire, and floods brought by typhoons are only some factors that can affect paper storage. The list of issues that might arise with paper documents is typical in local Philippine government offices. By going paperless, necessary data is safely kept on the cloud and regularly backed up, ensuring you always have access to it, even in an emergency.

Save the environment
Paper comes from trees. Need we say more?

The True Cost of Paper
Paper may seem cheap in the short term, but it's an inefficient and expensive way to operate. Digital options like UNAWA offer many benefits for businesses, including reduced site overheads, freeing up funds that can go into other aspects of running a successful company.

The cost of paper for each employee is high.

Here’s a breakdown of how much companies spend annually per employee on paper costs:

  • ₱4,468 - Printing and scanning
  • ₱4,000 - 200 reams of paper
  • ₱63,000 - Man-hours searching for documents
  • ₱12,000 - Storage

Imagine the savings if a company goes digital. To achieve a paperless Philippines, the government can start by incentivizing businesses to go digital.

Even before the pandemic, the Philippines has taken some measures to go paperless. The Supreme Court and House of representatives are examples of this move. During the pandemic, it has fast-forwarded the digitization plans of most government offices, and it seems that it has become the new normal for some essential government processes. The education sector has directed all students and teachers to work together by having online classrooms for over two years.

Going for a paperless society has its challenges, and it may be a long way for our country to achieve, but it has presented an option for us that may only be improved in the future. Filipinos who have experienced long lines, red tape, and corruption over the years may benefit significantly from the advantages of a better and more efficient government by going the paperless route.

November 10, 2022
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