Rethink your paper usage – SA company projects savings of 40%

After seven months of proven savings, a South African Financial Services (FS) company of more than 3 000 employees has projected annual savings in excess of 40% in paper and associated printing and faxing costs, Rethink Consulting’s Francois Bedeker, tells SmartProcurement.

The saving is the result of the firm’s partnership with procurement optimisation organisation Rethink Consulting.

“As part of a business sustainability drive, the FS company set an objective of reducing its carbon footprint over the long-term. The initial focus was to reduce paper usage, for which it partnered with Rethink Consulting and launched a project to create a paperless environment in the company that would be simple and user-friendly, and which would enable collaboration. It was also important that the solution be extendible to its clients,” says Bedeker.

The project focused on eliminating the day-to-day paper use of all staff in the head office and branch environment. The realised savings covered the cost of undertaking the project many times.

The first phase of the project was an eight-month cost reduction and waste elimination exercise specifically aimed at printing and faxing, which was managed by Rethink together with a team of internal process owners, he says.

The project followed the Six Sigma methodology and incorporated Lean principles.

The existing paper-intensive environment was investigated in order to understand the issues and costs involved, and to develop a case for change indicating the potential benefits of a paperless environment.

Historical data was measured and analysed to confirm the main costs and their root causes, and solutions were then proposed and implemented.

“Key challenges in a project of this nature include transferring ownership from the project team to business heads, changing the employee culture to one of paper-saving and ensuring that the implemented practices and benefits are sustained,” Bedeker explains.

Further opportunities for cost savings were also identified, and a roadmap was compiled for the realisation of a paperless future in a series of phased projects.

For more information, contact Francois Bedeker of Rethink Consulting at

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