Ruban Rajasooriyar, managing director of leading digital document management firm DocTech, discusses the key business benefits of the Electronic Trade Documents Bill
With new legislation aimed at reducing UK business’s paper use expected to be introduced later this year, migrating to digital-first operations has never been more crucial.
The Electronic Trade Documents Bill(ETDB) looks set to revolutionise the way UK firms trade with international companies by putting electronic trade documents on the same legal footing as paper documents, removing the need for wasteful paperwork and needless bureaucracy.
A report by global think tank Kyocera claims the average office worker in the UK uses up to 1,125 sheets of paper every year. That’s 45 pieces every day.
As well as the obvious environmental benefits of cutting down on paper use and saving trees, there are also major financial and operational perks.
Indeed, the International Chamber of Commerce claims SMEs could see a 13% increase in international business by going digital.
What’s more, the UK economy is set to grow by £1.14 billion over a 10-year period by reducing paper processing, according to leading global fintech firm Trade Finance Global.
Here, Ruban Rajasooriyar, managing director of leading digital document management firmDocTech, explains what the Electronic Trade Documents Bill (ETDB) could mean for UK businesses.
What is the ETDB?
The bill aims to make digital documents between international traders legally recognised, enabling firms to significantly cut their reliance on paper.
It is thought that the billwillcover documents such as bills of exchange, promissory notes, bills of lading, delivery orders, warehouse receipts, mate’s receipts, marine insurance policies and cargo insurance certificates.
This means UK companies will no longer need to rely on as many paper documents to remain compliant.
The Government’s digital secretary Michelle Donelan said: “Our digital-first plans will make it easier for the country’s firms to buy and sell around the world – driving growth, supercharging our economy, cutting carbon and boosting productivity.
“We want to support businesses by cutting red tape and allowing them to sell their goods and products globally without burdensome bureaucracy.
“The UK was central to establishing the international trade system in the nineteenth century and we are once again leading the world to boost global trade in the twenty-first century.”
The bill is expected to be made law later this year.
Boosting productivity – lowering costs
Using paper for business activity is extremely arduous and time-consuming – and can have severe consequences.
Whether it is manual admin tasks such as data input, trawling through filing cabinets to find that elusive invoice or transport costs, to even losing or damaging the only physical copy available, paper use is fraught with pitfalls.
However, the bill would enable firms to adopt more digital processes, meaning many key documents could be securely stored, and instantly replicated and recalled.
Furthermore, electronic signatures provide a far greater level of security, accountability, compliance, and speed up sign-off processes between companies, particularly those operating in different time zones.
Automation frees up your workforce time, allowing companies to retain specialist personnel for maintaining processes, ensuring the processes are efficient and increase workforce capacity without the need to recruit.
In January, Manchester housing groupMosscare St Vincent’s, for example, revealed it saved £22,500 per yearby migrating its paper-based maintenance reporting processes – just one part of its overall operation -online.
Accurate, automated and secure data – from anywhere at any time
Digital document management tools enable organisations to instantly and securelysearch, extract, capture and save data – from anywhere in the world, at any time.
Automation enables a more efficient and leaner operation, meaning more sales, better quality and enhanced productivity, while futureproofing businesses for decades to come.
It also ensures human error is minimised, meaning greater accuracy and a lower risk of security breaches.
A 2020 IBM report found that data breaches caused by human error cost businesses an average of £2.8 million($3.33m).
Additionally, 43% of employees admitted they have made a mistake at work that had security repercussions for themselves or their company.
But improved security and automation are not the only business benefits to going digital.
Sensitive data such as employee records and customer accounts can be protected by limiting access to authorised users, meaning only selected employees who need to review certain documents will be able to see them.
Now is the time to go digital
While employees will continue to play a key role in business operations, digital processes help to mitigate the risk of human errors.
And with 80% of private sector organisations in the UK exploring automation tools to improve efficiencies, there has never been a better time for international traders to move away from paper-based processes and join the digital revolution.
For more information visit www.doctech.co.uk