Six business advantages of electronic documents

Remember the days before the internet when you needed to get someone to sign a document? You’d need to print out the entire document (usually more than one copy), then present it to them to sign. 

If the signee wasn’t physically with you, you would need to put the documents in a large envelope and pay to post them to the recipient. You’d then have to wait until they received the package, then wait for them to sign them and place them in ANOTHER envelope and post them back you. 

All in all, it required a significant amount of time, hassle and cost, especially if the document was several pages long. And sometimes frustration if your document got lost or delayed in the post, or the signee took their time in returning it. 

Luckily today, things are very different. Thanks to technology like, you can simply create an online document and send it instantly to your signee. And they can just as easily sign it and return it.  

Of all the ways that the internet has improved the way we run businesses, this has to be one of the most convenient. So let’s look at six of the biggest business advantages of electronic documents. 

1) They are more secure

Before electronic documents changed the way we conducted business, you often needed to post your documents and contracts to the recipient. Aside from the cost and inconvenience of this, posting important and even confidential documents came with some risk. 

You risked them being lost on the post, or delayed beyond an important date. Even if you opted for sending them by courier, you still risked them getting into the wrong hands. With a physical copies out of your sight, you had no control over who saw or was able to get access to the documents. 

However, with electronic documents you send them directly via email to the recipient. Which means that they, and they only, can see a copy of them. If you are sending sensitive or confidential documents you can even set them so they can only be accessed within your organisation, or use other security settings to protect your data. 

And once they are signed, you can safely keep them in locked digital files that are backed up in a secure location with no risk of flood, fire, theft or loss. 

2) They are cheaper

We’ve already covered the fact that it’s cheaper to send electronic documents, but let’s explore some the reasons why. 

If you are sending paper documents, there are some costs you can’t avoid: the cost of printing your document (paper, printer ink and wear), the cost of shredding the document at some point, the cost of posting or couriering your document if it is leaving your building, and the time you need to spend on all the above. 

If your document gets lost or requires revisions, you will need to repeat some of these costs, too. And if your document needs to be seen or signed by several parties, that cost needs to be multiplied. 

Compare this to the economy of sending an electronic document instantly and securely to your recipient – or any number of recipients. And if they require amends? You can simply change the document your end and resend.

3) They are quicker

Unless your signee is sitting next to you as you prepare your document, there will always be a delay when signing a paper copy. You need to physically get the document to them – often by post or courier, which will take from a few hours to several days – and then you need to wait for them to sign and return to you.

And if there are any amends or the document gets lost in transit, you need to start the whole process again. 

However, with an electronic document you can send it and receive notification of signing in a few minutes. And if there are any changes, these can be done and sent over just as quickly. This makes business smoother and more efficient, especially if you are working to a tight deadline. 

4) They are more convenient

There are so many ways electronic documents are more convenient than their paper counterparts. And this becomes most obvious if several parties are involved in the signing, overseeing or decision-making. 

Factor in the inconvenience and risk involved in sharing a document with one person several times over and you can see how paper documents leave you more open to time wasted through inaction, or documents going missing in transit, and greater security risks.

On the other hand, it doesn’t matter how many people need to see, authorise or sign an electronic document. It is as economical, quick, easy and secure to send an electronic document to one person as it is to 100. 

5) They are better for record-keeping

Imagine if there was a fire, flood of theft at your office. What would happen to your confidential documents? Or what if your business was audited in several years’ time and you were required to show copies of important documents or contracts? 

Paper documents always carry a risk. A risk of being lost, destroyed, stolen or mis-filed. And even if you do still have a copy somewhere, you can waste a significant amount time searching for an old document you suddenly need but can’t place. 

Electronic documents trump paper versions when it comes to record-keeping. They can be stored securely on your laptop, and backed up in the cloud or another secure location. And when you need a copy in future they can be instantly and easily found and retrieved. 

As a bonus, they also don’t require huge filing cabinets, making your office much more streamlined, tidy and dust-free!

6) They are more environmentally friendly 

And finally, electronic documents have a much smaller carbon footprint than their paper cousins. They require less paper, less power (from printing), no printer ink, no transport moving them between locations (if required) and they don’t contribute towards landfill. 

So if you are looking to make more sustainable choices in your business, switching from paper documents to electronic versions is a far greener alternative. 

Photo by Maxim Ilyahov