Paperless HR departments valued by private, school HR professionals

Private HR departments are increasingly going paperless, noting that the move improves efficiency, which, in turn, increases worker productivity. They’ve done it by turning to computer-based systems to store and manage documents and track employee information.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted the informal survey at its annual summer conference. The HR professionals polled said that more than 50 percent of their HR files were digital. As a result, they spend 35 percent less time than they used to on administrative paperwork.
“This survey is a strong indicator that paperless HR document practices work and forward-thinking HR departments who have adopted digital practices are more efficient and have greater ability to direct HR resources to programs that matter, instead of wasting time on paperwork, Archive Systems CEO Gordon Rapkin said to SHRM Online in an interview.

Texas school HR departments stop pushing paper

A few Texas school HR departments are taking on the challenge of going paperless. One is Frisco ISD. The district was featured in a story in the March issue of HR Exchange for its electronic onboarding process. Its HR department is now an almost completely paperless operation.
Bob Allen, Frisco ISD’s director of business applications and process, said that all HR departments have to receive some documents, such as I-9 Forms, on paper. Those documents are scanned into the district’s electronic repository for long-term storage and the originals are returned or destroyed.
Allen outlined the important benefits Frisco ISD has seen from going paperless:
  • Efficiency within HR and across the district. “There is incredible value in not having to manage and maintain paper HR folders (in addition to the cost of paper, printing, filing, and storing)," Allen said.
  • Documents can no longer be lost or misfiled and can be retrieved by anyone with appropriate security access within seconds to respond to inquiries.
  • Multiple departments that require access to specific documents can be immediately notified via a workflow, and that workflow can automatically integrate data into multiple systems.
  • The electronic onboarding process has been immeasurably improved, keeping new employees informed and allowing the district to detect everything from missing documents to upcoming certification renewal requirements.

Focusing on the process 

“I have not spoken with any district that doesn’t feel that going paperless would be valuable to them,” Allen said. “It’s a matter of balancing priorities, workloads, resources, and finances.” Most districts focus primarily on copying the documents to an electronic format. Their effort “…stops short of integration and business process change,” Allen said. He is an advocate of the latter.
Frisco ISD is one of a handful of district HR departments that have taken paperless a step further by using an electronic content management system (ECM) to provide electronic imaging and workflow systems integration. It provides HR with an “end-to-end” solution, using technology to complete hiring, onboarding, and long-term management tasks. With integration, HR departments can operate at reduced staffing levels.
Another challenge districts face is devoting the time required to scan their existing HR documents into an integrated system. With all the paperwork HR used to collect, it can seem like an insurmountable task. Allen said that can be overcome with a good plan that organizes the scanning task over an extended period.
For districts that don’t have someone like Allen to shepherd them through the process, he recommends finding the best technology consultant they can to help them identify and overcome their challenges. Smaller districts could work together on an HR technology project to get the most bang for their buck.