Going Paperless

Brian Staffenson, a staff member of University Housing and Dining Services, is investigating paper usage within his department, determining which processes are most reliant on paper documentation, and understanding how paperless or near-paperless processes can impact workflow.

Final Goal

Develop methods and recommendations to reduce paper usage across campus and beyond.

The Charge

  • Determine which processes use paper on a regular basis.
  • Analyze which processes can effectively go paperless or use less paper.
  • Reduce paper usage within department by 10%.
  • Document reproducable results for other departments.


August 2011

  • Requested that UHDS managers compile a list of the types of printing they do, including frequency and reasoning.

September 2011

  • Created a small task force to investigate inventory, which is UHDS's largest source of wasted paper.

October 2011

  • Met with department stakeholders to go ahead with plan to automate inventory procedure with a goal of complete automation by December 2011.
  • Created a system to capture printing data and worked on a system to allow users to view their paper usage.
  • Developing recommendations for paper savings methods across departments.

November 2011

  • Completed printing data project for users and incorporated it into the department's login script so each user can now see how much they've printed in the last week, month, and year.
  • Simultaneously ran both the automated and manual inventory procedures to test validity of data and functionality of system. Plans for complete automation are confirmed for a December 2011 start date.
  • Working on system to allow managers to see how much their units are printing.

Preliminary Recommendations for Individuals

  • Send materials to meeting attendees before meeting. This will allow those with laptops/tablets the ability to bring them to the meeting and reduce the number of copies needed for the meeting.
  • Use Digital Post-it notes, such as a Windows Sidebar gadget (Sticky Notes) or Apps such as Noteshelf or 2Do for Apple devices.
  • Request that others send communications electronically. This includes vendors and other 3rd parties.
  • Set personal goals, such as to never print out an email.
  • If your position requires you to print something, meet with your manager or the recipient of the document and determine if paper-dependent workflows can be converted to electronic-based workflows.

Preliminary Recommendations for IT Implementation

  • Encourage users to set their default printer settings to two sided printing.
  • Use a networked fax machine so documents do not have to be printed before being faxed. You only need one or two set up to do so in your department, so depending on the size of the department, this can also cut costs in other ways.