Paper: Silent, but Costly


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Small purchases really add up, don’t they? One cup of coffee a day from your local cafe doesn’t seem like that big a deal, but multiply that $3 purchase by 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year and you’re looking at over $1,000 just for your weekday caffeine boost. (That’s not counting weekend coffee runs, extra hazelnut syrup, or those extra large tips when they spell your name right on the cup.)
Using paper in your business is similar. One sheet of paper costs mere cents, but when you consider the 10,000 sheets that the average employee goes through in a year, add on the time, labor, and other costs associated with printing, filing, and copying paper, and you’re looking at a potentially hefty number. (Example: Printed forms cost U.S. companies more than $120 billion annually.)
Here’s an infographic and more information on the cost of paper management.

Cost of Paper

So we know that each employee goes through about 10,000 pieces of paper each year. What are the actual costs of the paper alone? Well, a case of paper (5,000 sheets) costs about $50. That means each employee uses $100 worth of paper a year. For a small business (50-100 employees) you’re looking at $5,000 to $10,000 just for paper alone. A large business with upwards of 1,000 employees? Try $100,000 or more. And that’s just for Staples brand copy paper.
The University of Michigan’s Healthcare System noted on their website that they spent around $800,000 on paper in one year.

Cost of Printing

Remember how annoying printing was in college? You’d have your term paper all ready to go, and with hours to spare, you had to print. Easy, unless you forgot your spare change to pay for pages.
You and your employees might not feel the annoyance of paying for printing on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean printing is a small cost. Companies spend up to 3 percent of yearly revenue just on printing. Even for a small business, that’s a hefty sum. In fact, 69% of small businesses with websites report annual revenue between 1 and 2.5 million dollars. We’ll do that math for you; $150,000 in printing costs per year. For large businesses who make upwards of $1 billion in revenue, that number could be as high as $30 million or more. 

Cost of Filing and Locating

Let’s recap. A business could spend over $100,000 on the low end and up to millions on the high end, just for paper and printing. But that’s all, right? 
You also have to figure in the cost of copying paper, filing it, and managing it. Of course, exact numbers depend on a lot of different factors, but on average (according to PWC research) filling a filing cabinet costs $25,000, plus $2,000 annually for management of each of your filing cabinets. Additional costs come up when you start to consider locating misplaced documents and losing documents all together.
With the large price tag and organizational headaches involved with managing paper, it’s no surprise that nearly three-quarters of leaders in IT consider paper a hindrance.
When you look at the costs of paper, it’s clear that it’s not sustainable. However, you could streamline your business and cut costs with a FormAssembly account.
A FormAssembly Enterprise account costs just about $7,200 a year, a Premier plan, closer to $2,700/year. Those numbers are as much as a 99.98% decrease from the cost estimate of fairly modest estimates for paper-based systems. Though not all of the paper you use is forms, many documents are, or, like invoices, could easily be converted into forms.
Doesn’t it make sense to replace hundreds of thousands of dollars (or much more) of inefficient paper processes with a streamlined web form tool?
Learn more about our Enterprise plan.

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