We all know the benefits of an all-in-one ERP solution – automation, streamlined processes, better reporting… but did you know that the right ERP software can also help your business become more environmentally friendly? Not only does ERP help eliminate paper use, but it also helps reduce product spoilage and waste, and better manage your inventory. Paper use in the office is one of the biggest drains on efficiency with employees wasting time looking for information kept in filing cabinets, deciphering handwritten notes and manually correcting human errors. Not to mention that 45% of the paper that does get printed in an office ends up trashed by the end of the day. We’ve compiled a list of ways in which ERP software can help your business become more environmentally friendly, along with some other tips to help you go green at the office (or at home).
Reduce Paper Use in the Office and in the Warehouse
With the introduction of tools like barcode scanning and electronic document management, and software to help manage lot numbers and inventory, it is now easier than ever for businesses to operate in a paperless environment.
Instead of printing pick tickets and handwriting notes when picking orders, barcode scanning allows your employees to electronically pull up pick lists on the barcode scanner and then scan barcodes as items are picked from the shelf. This reduces the use of paper in the warehouse and eliminates errors from trying to decipher handwritten notes when changes need to be made. In addition, barcode scanning saves time by allowing employees to select new orders ready to be picked directly from the device and then identify and correct any picking errors at the source. Barcode scanning tools can also be used when receiving products, for inventory counts and when moving items in the warehouse.
Electronic Document Storage
Electronically storing documents is a much more efficient method for keeping track of important information such as invoices, quotes and spec sheets. With document management software, when you electronically receive a document (for example, an invoice in an email from one of your suppliers), the system will automatically scan the document, parse out the important information such as date, amount and vendor and then populate that information into your ERP software for further processing and payment. Alternatively, if you receive paper copies of documents, you can simply scan the document and have the system automatically populate the appropriate information into your ERP or store the information for future reference. This saves you from having to manage piles of paper on your desk and in file cabinets.
Bonus Tip: If you do have to print paper at your office, consider setting all your printers to print in black and white and double-sided as a means to save resources.
Tracking product lot numbers allows you to monitor and track information about a specific group of products including expiry date. This ensures you’re always picking the product with the closest expiry date for each order and eliminates unnecessary spoilage and waste in the warehouse. It also allows you to easily identify which products have been sold to which customer to electronically manage any recalls.
Just like lot tracking helps eliminate product spoilage, proper inventory management tools in your ERP system also help you manage inventory shrinkage and waste. By properly tracking products in your warehouse, you never have to worry about losing inventory and always have up-to-date inventory information for purchasing decisions. This saves you money by ensuring you only ever order enough products to meet demand.
Other Ways to Go Green
Reduce Electricity Use
To help reduce your electricity use, replace all light bulbs with LED lights as they wear out. LED lights last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting and use at least 75% less energy. Another trick is to turn off all lights and monitors when away from your desk and set computers and monitors to automatically go into sleep mode after a scheduled amount of time.
Reduce Plastic Packaging
Running late for work? Have a long commute? Didn’t sleep well last night? While these factors may lead you to stop and grab a takeout coffee on your way to the office, you might want to think twice before you purchase something in a non-reusable container. While COVID has certainly had an impact on drive-through coffee consumption, the use of drive-throughs for coffee purchases has slightly increased over the past five years. Grabbing a coffee every morning contributes to the amount of waste added to landfills and can be an expensive habit. Instead, try to make coffee at home, consider offering coffee in the office with proper coffee mugs or opt to use a reusable mug when you do buy coffee out. Make sure that you have appropriate recycle bins set up at your office and educate your staff on what is recyclable or not by checking with your local municipality.
Bonus Tip: Want to go even one step further to reduce your environmental impact? Consider banning all single-use plastic at your office and encourage employees to bring food and drinks in reusable containers instead.
Safely Dispose of E-Waste and Hazardous Material
It seems that every office has a closet full of old computers, mice, keyboards and monitors just taking up space. So what can you do with all that old equipment? There are now several ways in which you can safely dispose of all e-waste and hazardous material. Check with your local waste centre to see what materials they accept and designate a couple of days a year to dropping stuff off. Consider donating items that are still in good shape to local schools, non-profits and other charitable organizations. There are also several companies around that will come and pick up your used equipment and dispose of it safely for a small fee.