Staff Photo
University of Washington, Seattle

The UW is committed to reducing paper consumption by 30% from 2010 levels. As part of that effort, we are highlighting best practices on paper reduction from members of the UW community.

See our Reduce Paper page for more information on reducing paper at UW and the UW Committee on Paper Reduction.

This snapshot is from the School of Nursing

What was the driver for this initiative?
As part of the Staff and Academic Human Resources Lean Event, the Human Resource Records Management Kaizen was formed to deal with establishing a central location for files,the location would be electronic, all documents would be standardized, reduction of paper by 75%, and records would be held according to the University of Washington Record Retention Compliance. We also needed to establish an electronic naming convention for all records stored so that they could be identified easily, retrieved quickly and deleted when retention date was met.

Were there other benefits?
Paper conservation was only one goal. The other benefit was to be able to go online and find the record you needed. We've been able to eliminate file cabinets, folders, binding and paper clips. We have expedited the procedure by using electronic signatures instead of sending paper copies around for signatures. Records are current, consistent and in compliance with records retention. We have an electronic naming convention for records, which is easily searchable for finding destruction dates and for recognizing when a new record is destroyed when superseded or if the retention date is 2, 3 or more years.

Did you establish any cost savings?
Cost savings of eliminating 75% of the copies made was easily reached. At least 98% of file space was eliminated. The time sequence of staff was shortened by 50% by eliminating the time it took to make copies, address envelopes to send items forward, wasted time in waiting for a response, time to make copies and send to different units and finally to file in a drawer.

How did you measure success?
Success was measured by reaching our goals: consistency in process, streamlined document process, improved compliance, reduction in paper copies, common place for storage and created shared goals.

Suggestions and recommendations for others looking to implement a similar program:
Our advice to others is: don't recreate the process. Let us share our knowledge with you then you can make custom changes. It was very difficult to come up a system, which just has not been used at the university. We worked closely with Barbara Benson in the Records Office so that we did not have a lot of rework.

Project Contact Name: 
UW Paper Reduction
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