Nitro Blog

IT’s Undeniable Silver Bullet for Sustainability Success


Fact: Sustainability is no longer a “nice-to-have,” peripheral initiative in the corporate world. According to a recent survey by AIIM, 49% of CEO’s cite sustainability as a top-three initiative. They consider it a priority for improving corporate reputation, employee morale, and efficiency. And, of course, for cutting costs.

Amid the plethora of potential sustainability projects, one stands out as particularly attractive: improving document workflow and management. This quick – but very big – win can often set a precedent for progress that leads to success with tougher, more complicated efforts down the road. For example, 84% of businesses who went paper-free achieved full ROI in less than 18 months. Just think of documents as your keystone sustainability initiative.

The amount of waste inherent in paper processes is rather horrifying:

  • 45% of paper printed in offices is thrown away by the end of the day
  • 30% of print jobs are never picked up by the user
  • In general, document workflow inefficiencies cost employees 20% of overall productivity

On the flip side, going paperless can save millions – or even tens of millions – in immediate costs. Manufacturing company Owens Corning realized $30M just in physical storage savings alone after going paperless. (For more on the impact of paper, check out this infographic.)

Despite these convincing numbers, companies have been slow to adopt documents as a priority for sustainability. 65% of businesses are still signing on paper, and more than half still go through the relentless print-sign-scan cycle. 20% even report that paper consumption is actually increasing…rapidly!


There are two major reasons why businesses are not showing progress at going paper-free:

  1. Lack of prioritization and buy-in from management
  2. The difficult culture shift necessary for success

These two issues probably look pretty familiar to you – they pop up as obstacles to many key initiatives for IT departments. This is why at Nitro we encourage IT professionals to focus on documents as a part of your sustainability efforts. It’s an opportunity for you to step up and lead a business-critical initiative (remember those numbers I quoted earlier?), and show how your team can directly impact the bottom line.

So here are the steps you need to take to overcome the barriers to success and achieve a paper-free office:

  1. Find an executive sponsor – and I mean EXECUTIVE. If not the CEO, then definitely the C-something. Get their commitment to be the face of your initiative, and to make it part of their own narrative when talking to peers and employees.
  2. Procure the necessary tools to support paper-free workflows. In today’s world of bloated tech stacks, you’ll be happy to hear that when it comes to document workflow, you CAN have it all in one tool – so don’t settle for pieces of what you and your employees need. Instead, take the time to find the tool that has your desired features, flexible licensing and compliance structures, the right price, AND the support to round it all out. For more info on evaluating these tools, read this post.
  3. Develop an internal communication and training plan to educate and equip your fellow employees for paper-free success. You should NOT assume they will change their ways just because you send one email. Provide clear paperless workflows for all relevant tasks, enforce and reinforce, all with help from your executive sponsor and the rest of management!

Is your business paper-free? Reach out on Twitter or Facebook to tell us about it!

Want help going paper-free? Talk to us about a managed trial of Nitro for your team.