To: Decisions Maker, Title
From: Student’s Name, Title

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Date: November 26, 2017

Subject: Request to Conduct Research on Paperless Office


I am writing this memo in order to receive permission to conduct primary research and additional secondary research on the issue of operating a paperless office. I am requesting permission to use resources to conduct the research and to access personnel and files in which to conduct the primary research to investigate the viability of transitioning to a paperless office.

What the Problem Is and Why It Needs to Be Investigated
There are numerous problems that arise from operating a traditional office versus a paperless office. These problems include, but are not limited to: 1) Ease of access to data; 2) Time spent storing and accessing data; 3) Storage space; 4) Environmental impact; 5) Economical impact; and 6) Chance of losing physical data.

Ease of access to data is a problem in many offices. When data is stored in hard-copy format, it must be physically retrieved from storage. The storage is not often at the work station of the associate needing the information. To access the needed data, the associate must either physically go to the storage area or have an assistant go retrieve the needed data. If the associate needs additional information, they again must go to the physical location or send an assistant. It is important to have all the data needed to complete the task at hand at the fingertips of the associate to increase productivity and alleviate unnecessary work.

Time spent storing an accessing data is increased by the physical transportation of the associate to the data or the data to the associate. Then, once the data is no longer needed, it must again be transported. Additionally, the data must be found in its location. With paperless storage, a few keystrokes can access the data. With hard-copy storage, the associate must manually search for the file in question, wasting valuable time that could be used producing work product.

Storage space for paper files is tremendous. A server can hold hundreds of thousands of documents. In order to hold the same data physically, an entire storage room would be needed. A server takes up the space of a small desk, where a storage room can be a maze of filing cabinets that must be navigated to locate the needed information. The files themselves are also often cumbersome. A single computer screen can display a thousand page data source, where, in paper form, the same data would take up banker’s boxes full of room.

Environmental impact is a concern for all of us. Paper must be manufactured, causing pollution. To even create the paper costs untold numbers of trees. Once it is no longer needed, it must be destroyed. While recycling reuses some paper, it does not resolve the entire waste issue. Burning the data causes pollution, and throwing it away fills landfills.

Economical impact is lessened in a paperless office. There are fewer costs for paper, ink and supplies. While the initial investment in technology is higher than the cost of paper, long term costs are lower. You only purchase a computer once. Paper must be replenished constantly. The costs shift the longer you operate a paperless office. Money saved is money earned.

Chance of losing physical data is higher with paper files. The cost of creating and storing copies of files is high. The copies cost the same to create as the originals. Electronic data can be copied and stored in multiple locations with very little costs. There are no papers to lose, as they are stored in multiple locations. No one can accidentally throw away a electronic files, fires do not destroy them, and they can be stored in multiple locations with little cost.

What Secondary Research Has Been Conducted About the Problem
I have already conducted secondary research on the issues raised. The research has enlightened me as to what steps have been taken by others in each area. Ease of access to data has been reviewed in office setting. (Muhammad & Roach, 1996; Seeley, 2008). Time spent storing an accessing data has been analyzed. (Calloway, 2013; Day, 1999). Storage space calculations have been calculated. (Lucarini, 1996). Environmental impact has been discussed by many scholars. (Totally Paperless, 2017) (Ding & Reilly, 2014). Economical impact has been studied. (Calloway, 2013; Day, 1999) Finally, the chance of losing physical data has been written about by experts in the field. (Muhammad & Roach, 1996; Seeley, 2008).

What Primary Research You Will Conduct About the Problem
My primary research will be multi-facetted, and include the use of the following: 1) Office manager; 2) Data entry clerks; 3) File transfer; 4) File creation; and 5) Associates
I will first interview the office manager to ascertain our costs for supplies, such as paper, ink, filing needs and storage. I will take the data from an entire year and break it down into months, weeks, days, as well as a per file average. This will give me a base point at which to look at the cost of maintaining paper data. I will also review what we currently spend on technology and review what the cost will be to upgrade for paperless data storage.

Data entry clerks will be interviewed to review the time and costs it takes to create the data we maintain. I will also explore their ability and amenability to transfer from paper data creation to electronic data creation. Finally, I will review what training would be necessary to make them able to create electronic data files.

I will use the data entry clerks to transfer some existing files to electronically stored data. This will give a sampling of how long it should take to transfer the current paper data to paperless data. I expect to transfer a sample size large enough to give an adequate representation of the time it will take to convert the entire office.

I will use the data entry clerks to create new files as they come in, both in the traditional method and paperless. I will compare the time it takes to create both, the costs to create both, and the storage space required for both formats.

Associates will then be asked to use both the traditional files as well as the paperless data files in order to complete their work tasks. After several weeks of using both versions, I will survey the associates regarding the issues of using both. I will calculate the pros and cons of both systems and will then issue a blind survey of what data storage each associate prefers to use.

What Benefit Will Result From Your Research
The benefits of the research will be multi-leveled. We will be able to calculate what savings, as well as what costs, are associated with transitioning to a paperless office. Through the surveys of the associates, we will be able to tell if a transition is feasible. We will also be able to review the data as to the long term benefits or downfalls of using paperless data storage. Finally, the research will let us know if it is a good business decision to transition to a paperless office.

Preliminary Ideas for Solving This Problem
My ideas for solving this problem are three-tiered. First, we should ascertain the viability of transitioning to a paperless office. Second, we would train our employees with regards to the benefits and applications of a paperless office. Finally, we will transition from traditional to paperless data storage.

We will ascertain the viability of the transition through the research proposal I have requested. We will conduct the research and analyze the data. An important part of the research will be gauging associate feelings on the transition, as mentioned in the blind survey.

We will train the employees on the benefits and applications of the paperless office by involving them in the transfer of data from traditional to paperless format. This will allow all associates to better understand the paperless data storage process and how it works.

Finally, we will transition to paperless by opening all new files in paperless format. Once the old data has been transferred to paperless, there will be no need to open new files in any format but paperless. This will result in savings across the board for the company and easier work for the associates.

I am requesting authorization to conduct primary research and additional secondary research on the issue of transitioning to a paperless office. This research will ascertain the benefits of transitioning to a paperless office and give us hard data on which to base our decision.

  • Calculating the return on investment on going paperless (ROI). (2017). Totally Paperless. Retrieved from: investment-of-going-paperless-the-roi
  • Calloway, L. A. (Sep/Oct 2013). How to go paperless. Law Practice: The Business of Practicing Law, 39(5): 12-14.
  • Day, C. W. (Jun 1999). The paperless office. American School & University, 71(10): 58-59.
  • Ding, L. & Reilly, L. (Oct 2014). 5 ways to create a productive paperless environment. University Business, 17(10): 24-25.
  • Lucarini, D. (Apr 1996). In pursuit of a paperless small business office. CD-ROM Professional, 9(4): 58-63.
  • Muhammad, T. K. & Roach, R. (Nov 1996). Doing business the paperless way. Black Enterprise, 27(4): 96-99.
  • Seeley, J. J. (Jul/Aug 2008). How going paperless boosts productivity and improves services. Journal of Housing & Community Development, 65(4): 22-22.