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Panos Boudouvas12/14/153 min read

The True Cost of Paper-Based Quality Management Systems in Equipment and Procedures

Finding what the true cost is of a paper-based quality management system can lead you to some surprising findings if you've stuck with this process for years. You may still think using paper is easier since it's so convenient to write something down in a hurry. Employees may think the same thing, or maybe not. They may just go along with your management concept because they're so used to it.

It's your account manager who has the worst headaches with this system. Perhaps you don't communicate enough with them to gain an idea of how many steps they have to take to assure compliance and communicate document changes.

You need to slip into their shoes and see their experiences to make their job work easier. Even if they're used to certain procedures after so many years, those concepts are likely costing the entire company money. Your account manager could also face burnout as document management becomes more complex. This only leads to them moving on and you having to fill their position again.

Let's take a look at how much money you're possibly spending using paper for all your company documents. Here at, we'll show why an electronic quality management system (or an eQMS) can change the entire game.

The Cost of Paper Alone

You'll find many who note how companies sometimes forget the cost of buying paper for company documents. Recent statistics show only 18% of all businesses are paperless, with 82% still using paper for everything.

These kind of numbers are a bit astounding in the age when technology has improved so steadily. Yet, the costs of managing paper are just as staggering. In the above report from Corp! Magazine, it shows $8 billion gets spent annually by companies to manage paper. Other costs involve filing, locating misplaced documents, plus reproducing lost documents.

The Costs of Doing Manual Filing

If you wondered what the average cost to file a paper document is, the above report says $20. Just multiply that by the hundreds if not thousands of documents you have to file in your company every week. Using a manual file cabinet seems impossible in today's time, though you may still use one, at least in part.

As your account manager attempts to keep up with all government regulations, losing just one document in a file cabinet could set off a costly chain reaction. Plus, the cost of buying more file cabinets to keep up demands (plus finding the space) only takes away money you could use for more important things.

The Costs of Not Being Able to Share Files

Using 100% paper only makes it harder to share files when you need to get everyone on the same page (so to speak) on training documents or edits. Place yourself in your account manager's role and imagine them having to keep track of multiple departments for document changes to assure compliance.

If you have dozens of departments, there isn't any conceivable way for one person to keep track of who's making document changes. A quality eQMS software provides digital file sharing capability so everyone can share documents collectively without losing track.

The savings this provides is already tremendous since fines imposed for violating regulations could cost you thousands of dollars. This doesn't include possible litigation fees if customer data gets compromised due to lack of control on tracking paper documents.

As mentioned above, you may never be able to keep an account manager on hand either when they realize it's too chaotic of a job.


Panos Boudouvas

Panos started ZenQMS to provide quality professionals better eQMS tools for enhanced compliance at an affordable price. Panos previously served in multiple executive roles at Aptuit, a leading Pharma CRO/CMO. Most recently he was a member of the Executive Committee and Vice President of Operational Excellence responsible for the worldwide launch and management of Aptuit’s LeanSixSigma program as a certified LeanSixSigma Black Belt. Mr. Boudouvas was one of the first employees at Aptuit, leading the corporate development effort through a broad acquisition program. Mr. Boudouvas also served served as Director of Facilities & Capital Development, which included global responsibility for 16 facilities, more than 100 full-time staff members, a ~$50 million annual operating budget and several multi-million dollar facility expansion and maintenance projects. Prior to Aptuit, Mr. Boudouvas served multiple roles in Private Equity and Investment Banking firms, with a focus on the pharmaceutical, healthcare services and technology industries. Panos is an Edward Tuck Scholar from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and holds a BS in Commerce from the McIntire School at the University of Virginia, where he graduated with Distinction