Paper Clutter to Digital Clutter: The Evolution of Document Management

As a millennial, I will never understand the document management process of storing private, personal documents and filing them into a secure cabinet, locked from prying eyes. Furthermore, trolling through the clutter of paper files to find the right document for one particular employee is always a daunting task for anyone.

Today, companies are shifting by storing these documents as digital data.

In my mind, the 1970s offices looked different, with rows and rows of filing cabinets where data was difficult to access let alone producing coherent reports.

But surprisingly, core HR processes failed to keep up with this rapid change and tasks document management was still a big issue.

But surprisingly, core HR processes failed to keep up with this rapid change and tasks document management was still a big issue.

No wonder nearly half of companies today are still using manual paper methods to handle their HR needs. [software advice]

Looking at the percentage, we can assume that many companies are still transitioning themselves from paper to digital. This limbo state is neither one thing nor the other so HR departments are continuing to suffer from poor data handling and document management.

Mixing paper files and computer documents to track employee data is a recipe for losing key employee data. This state of limbo means neither HR nor employees can take full responsibility as one relies on the other to manage their information.

This inevitably means that the paper trail becomes harder to track, but also puts private information at risk as it could fall into the wrong hands.

Furthermore, according to Sage, as human resources are being wasted due to reacting to small document management tasks like updating an employee’s on-boarding documents, there is no time to focus on how you could help a company reach its strategic objectives, thus stunting the growth of the business.

Enter Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS).

Today, only 32% of companies use a dedicated HRMS, allowing countless everyday tasks to be fully automated, with little need for human interaction; this approach shifts some work back to employees allowing them to take more responsibility for their own data while releasing more time for the HR department.

Automation has been proven to refine document management and the way businesses operate in general. Companies have seen huge improvements as a result of automating their processes. Both the cost of administrative processes and the time spent on administrative work can be reduced as a result of automation, dramatically increasing productivity.

In the world of HRMS, information can be stored on one system, allowing multiple people to access documents; edit & share relevant information, controlled by granular security so only those employees have access to information they are allowed to see.

The days of printing reports has become a thing of the past as the HRMS can now create reports digitally. Less paper and digital clutter of different versions of the same excel spreadsheets and word documents that have been edited and saved many different times.

  • But, is this the happy ending all deserve? Of those 32% of companies with a dedicated HRMS, How many are satisfied?

As humans, more is not enough. As technology expands rapidly so does our quest to make everything ‘better!’ The introduction of HRMS was only the start. Technology is continually improving and software vendors constantly looking at new ways to maximise these advances.

The majority of companies that developed or acquired a core HRMS are now deemed unfit for the simple reason that the system cannot cater for ‘all’ their needs.

  • “Around 40% of those with bespoke and generic off-the-shelf packages, and around 60% of those who previously developed systems in-house, are looking for alternatives when they upgrade.” – People and Technology: Is HR getting the best our of IT? – CIPD

What we are seeing is a multitude of software to input data with little or no control of the outcome: to improve HR processes and minimise risk in document management.

HR have mammoth task in updating personal information for employees, with new employment benefits to reward schemes. Today, you can find a multitude of software to help you with tasks that many ‘off-the-shelf’ packages can not cater for. But with more software introduced to HR it becomes a nightmare to manage: different user login details, on-board training with each new software, along with the latest update to the software, different user interfaces which can confuse users when switching one to another, and the crippling factor, the duplicated information that has to be imported and exported time and time again, thus creating digital clutter once again! Not to mention the support and maintenance costs associated with on-premise solutions.

What was expected to be an easy task became infuriating as data migrating from one software to another reintroduced the issues from the limbo state of paper to digital.

Due to the overbearing issue of data migration from one software to another, many companies are in search of a system that could bring everything together, allowing different people in the HR department to update an employee’s personal information, and also other information that their current core HRMS doesn’t store & provide, such as: recruitment, performance, benefits, payroll, expense and timesheets.

Many companies today, like XCD HR, provide these new modules and equip HR with an all-in-one solution. Integration is key as all data is stored in one easily accessible database. Paper handling is now virtually eliminated; administrative work reduced as a result of automation which dramatically increases productivity, allowing HR to free up their time and focus on HR objectives. Furthermore, instead of the data being accessed in an office, HR software companies allow organisations to be more agile with their data. Data can be accessed anytime, anywhere thanks to companies like Salesforce that provide a Cloud based platform. However, there are those who are sceptical of its security. Cloud based companies, like Salesforce, use the same world-class security as the global banks use for their transactions.

Information can now be accessed, not only on computers, but on mobile phones and even on LED let watches, anywhere with good signal. The new trend of people working away from the office is the result of technology.

Currently, more and more people are working from home, as many companies adopt this new work style.

The number of people working from home has risen by a fifth in the last decade. In 2016 1.5 million people are now ‘shunning’ the office for a better work life balance. More and more people will work from home as internet connections improve so companies are going to have to become more savvy and agile with their HR processes. – CIPD


There are many companies that are still tackling clutter, paper or digital. But are they doing everything they can to reduce these issues? Are you doing all that you can to reduce these issues? 48% of companies that are in the buying stage currently use manual paper methods, and according to Software Advice, 44% have an agenda to ‘improve efficiency/ organisation’ as the top reason for evaluating HR Software with automation coming in second with 22%.

Clutter is disruptive and can cost thousands of pounds if not reduced early on. Data sources brings abundant data types with complex data structures, increasing the difficulty of data integration. While human resources are wasted on these document management tasks, an organisation’s growth is held back. However, to succeed in the twenty first century, HR departments are going to have to adapt, adopt and embrace digital transformation. Those that do not will get left behind.

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