A paperless central station?

Southwest Dispatch improves efficiency while saving time, money, trees
Monday, May 24, 2010

DALLAS—Southwest Dispatch, an independently owned, UL-listed wholesale central station based here since its inception in 1989, has slowly been taking a bold and green step, utilizing a new, internal document management solution to attempt to go completely paperless. They’re about 80 percent there, after starting the program a year-and-one-half ago, said Ty Davis, vice president of operations at Southwest. Is the move really all about saving trees or is there a good business reason to ditch the fax machine and copier and go digital?

“It was definitely going green a little bit. It did look like we were just killing trees. We were receiving something electronic and then printing it out it out, and then scanning it back into electronic format and shredding the print. We were doing that for years,” Davis said with a laugh. “Probably the thing that we see the most is the savings on paper we’re not using any more. Where we were probably averaging 45,000 documents printed out a quarter, we’re probably down to maybe 1,000 now.” Davis noted that concurrent with the decrease in quarterly pages printed also came the ability to cancel Southwest’s regular printer maintenance contract.

Another consideration is privacy and compliance with new FTC rules for identity theft protection that will become effective June 1, 2010. According to Davis, less paper means less chance of sensitive information being surreptitiously appropriated for illegitimate uses by identity thieves. “Part of my issue was that paper is too easy to lose. There were no security measures on paper as far as an operator could ball up a piece of paper and throw it away,” Davis said. “We’re putting everything into this system, such as personnel files, old timecards, everything.”

Davis said in the end, going green and making a good business decision were one and the same. In addition to the savings in paper, toner, and service contracts there were also billable-employee hours saved. “I was able to reallocate some staff that were just doing scanning. Those 45,000 documents weren’t there every quarter any more,” Davis said. “Dealers and end users might not notice anything, but we sure do. When I’m able to reallocate staff time to other departments, everything becomes more efficient and there’s a real payoff. You may not be able to put an exact dollar amount on it, but the quality of work goes up.”