In a time poor world, we all hate bureaucracy – particularly when it seems to be engineered specifically to waste what little we have. The “original document” issue is just such an example of archaic thinking that does not nothing but slow down some of the most important processes of your business growth plans, costing you time and money.

The “original document” time waster

The speed at which you “do” business is incredibly important – the ability to give customers what they want, when they want it is a vital competitive advantage. So anything that makes you more inefficient is more than “just” a waste of cash – it can have a long term impact on profitability.

So when you need to expand, or to make a legal undertaking, it needs to be quick and efficient. But many processes – or at least the people overseeing these processes – are inefficient by design. Why? Because of their complete reliance on “original documents”.

Imagine you are trying to secure new offices as part of your expansion plans. The quicker you can move in, the sooner you have somewhere for your new hires to work improving output and customer experience. You do all the hard work of finding a suitable property, arranging viewing, scoping the potential, and you’re ready to sign an agreement.

But what do they ask for? An original bank statement.

Important, but stupid

Obviously, your landlord does need to run a credit check to ensure your business will be a good tenant, paying bills on time. But the insistence on having an “original” bank statement is ridiculous – especially if they expect you to send it in by post, further delaying the process.

Many professional trades – estate agents, solicitors, accountants etc – are completely dependent on seeing these original documents. But the reality is that in the digital age, there is no such thing as an original document. Sure, your address and account details are printed on nice, thick paper, but it is simply a copy of the digital data held on your bank’s computer system.

The reality is that there is absolutely no difference between you printing out a statement, or your bank doing it. Unless their paper is a little nicer than yours. You can prove this yourself by supplying a self-printed “original copy” next time you’re asked. If you don’t say, it will be accepted and processed without a hitch.

The stupidity doesn’t finish there though. The first thing your solicitor/estate agent/accountant does is photocopy the “original” before returning it to you. So they actually keep a copy of a copy. The situation is absurd.

Worse is yet to come

Technology continues to outstrip these legacy processes, leaving paper-loving legal and finance professionals far behind. The cost of 3D printers has fallen to the point that virtually anyone can now afford one. 

It is now possible to print a 3D version of virtually any object – which means that “originals” are set to become a whole lot rarer. In fact, the entire concept of “original” is set to become obsolete in every field.

Which means that demands for “original copies” will become even more ridiculous than they already are.