Efficiency Wars: Digital Document Management vs. the Traditional Filing Cabinet

document management

What’s worth using nowadays – paperless PDFfiller or the classical filing cabinet?

Today, document management is all about technology. Now more than ever, business owners across all industries are trying to waste as little time as possible on paperwork. But can a digital solution be considered to be as 100% as effective as the old-school filing cabinet? Even having access to the Internet, cloud storage, and digital documents, employees spend 1.8 hours per day searching for and gathering information. According to a recent survey, the average employee spends 10-15 percent of their time reading information, while spending over 50 percent of their time trying to find it. Imagine, how long these processes would take when there were no computers!

Let’s start from scratch and explore the evolution of document management. Then, we can compare traditional and modern approaches to document management. The real history of document management started with the simple filing cabinet.


How much time does an employee waste on working with a single document?

  • 9.3 hours per week is spent on searching for and gathering information.
  • 19.8% of working time is spent on looking for information on how to do their work more efficiently.
  • 60% of employees feel there is a lack of understanding on how to efficiently find information.


The origins – filing cabinets and the lack of space

Edwin Grenville Seibels is the inventor of the vertical file system. Paper documents were organized in drawers of stacked cabinets. These cabinets would remain the primary method of document storage in the business world for most of the 20th century.

The main problem was the lack of space when storing documents. This meant that companies with limited office space had trouble affording suitable filing cabinets. Moreover, finding or modifying a precise document still required a great deal of time and energy.

Losing documents was a very common occurrence, and according to one study, finding a lost file can cost a company $122. Nevertheless, many businesses would still stick with using filing cabinets as many others businesses worldwide began going paperless. The average office spends up to $25,000 to fill a four-drawer filing cabinet and over $2,000 annually to maintain it. That’s a lot of money, and many companies in the US still decide to spend it instead of saving time and money by going digital.


The new chapter – servers and the first EDMS

The history of document management took a dramatic turn in the 1980s. Electronic document management systems (EDMS) became available to companies around the world and employees could now store documents electronically in centralized mainframes.

EDMS helped to reduce storage costs and incidences of loss. Still, it would be a long time before a single all-in-one tool appeared. On the other hand, the invention of scanners in the mid-1980s allowed businesses to convert paper-based documents into digital documents. This led to companies saving thousands of dollars annually.


So with EDMS, it still takes:

  • 12 minutes for an office administrator to process a single document…

… and 9 out of these 12 minutes are spent searching for, editing and re-filing the document.

Only 3 minutes are spent on actually using the information!


The PC and the search engine solution for businesses

When PCs started to get distributed and connected on a LAN (local area network), companies were able to create and store documents on their computers. The rise of PCs gave businesses the ability to save more time when looking for and editing documents.

But digitalization lead to other expenses that every office has to deal with.


The average firm of 20 employees does the following every day:

document management

The search solution can save you some money, but still, you will likely have to pay much more than expected. So the question is – how can you keep having fun while spending less? You can use PDFfiller, which means no more pens, printers, scanning or stamps.


The cloud and smart devices generation

The innovative use of the Internet led to the development of cloud technology. Companies no longer needed to host their documents locally on expensive servers. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) means the DMS infrastructure is pre-built in the cloud and software is available on-demand via a web browser.

As companies around the world needed to eliminate costs and save room, they started using cloud technology to store documents and work with them remotely. This saved lots of time, and being able to work on the go saved even more. That’s why it was crucial to make it possible for sales reps and other employees to work outside of the office, in order to close more deals. Cloud along with mobile, have become a vital part of modern DMSs.


Electronic Document Management today – PDFfiller steps into the game

PDFfiller users can access their entire document database, as well as search for documents online, find needed forms in our library and share them directly from their device.


How you can simplify the cost analysis of planned automation:

Edit PDFs or convert them to/from any document format.

Create smart fillable forms and host them online.

Collect data from filled-in forms and export it to a spreadsheet or CRM.

Collaborate on document workflow with a team.

E-sign documents and send them out to be e-signed.

Fax documents, and so much more.


It ended up being a long journey, from starting with the filing cabinet to being able to use a single all-in-one tool. The winner of the Efficiency Wars now seems to be obvious – digital document solutions win by leaps and bounds. Work from anywhere in the world with PDFfiller. Forget about losing documents or making data mistakes which could cost you. Let PDFfiller cover your entire business document lifecycle and leave paper-based document management in the past.



Go paperless and try out a 30-day PDFfiller free trial