As I write this I’m making several observations on the disheveled desk in front of me: unopened bank statements, old and useless receipts, and worst of all offers from credit cards I’m never going to apply for. I’m not unorganized, I just have a lot of paper coming my way, still.
The trend over the last decade has steadily pushed towards cutting paper from our overhead and trying to reduce the carbon footprint every business accounts for. According to Matt Peterson of eFilecabinet, by switching from paper to electronic documents you can lower your overhead by 30 to 40 percent.
If you’re truly ready to make the transition into digitizing documents here’s how to get started and keep it that way.
Everyone Has To Buy In
For so long paper has been an integral part of how an office functions and communicates. Faxing, copying, and mailing were and still are routine tasks executed by employees that may not yet know about the alternative ways businesses are operating. In order to make paperless a reality your entire staff will have to adapt to the gradual transition into a permanent way of doing business.
It won’t be easy.
Many people have a strong affection for holding a physical document in their hand. The same is true for those who prefer to read a book, rather than reading their laptop screen. These people will have to learn new routines their comfortable with, some may even have to become skilled at software requiring weeks or months of professional training.
But the challenges are worth it. Worth it for your company’s overhead, and worth it for the critical threats our environment is facing. The key to getting everyone to buy in is patience.
Where To Start
Start easy with recurring mail – The easiest place to start is where we already have simple options in place. Most banks have realized the advantages of not having to send out statements to those who are set up with online banking. Go ahead and start the transition by stopping the statements, letters and bills you could be receiving through your e-mail. Most can be done with the push of a button! What’s great is most of these letters are coming from places that already store and backup your data online as well.
Emphasize document management – This is more than just having enough disc space. Managing files requires a layout and the ability to search for individual documents in order for the operation to run smoothly. We recommend choosing a file organization software with the ability to index and search by keywords.
Get into the scanning rhythm – Most offices have the initial challenge of turning all of their physical files into digital ones, this will be the majority of the work in the transition. Also, start indexing all new files and emails as they come in the door. Once a document is scanned and you’re set up with a secure backup shred the documents! One of the best feelings in this process will be the satisfaction of having space freed up in the office where all the file cabinets once existed.
Secure multiple backups – One backup typically won’t be enough of a guarantee when it comes to irreplaceable documents and records. Using two, one hard drive and one cloud storage service, should cover all your bases. There are several companies worth comparing for all your storage needs.
The Best Apps To Assist In The Paperless Process
It turns out scanning and storing aren’t the only avenues for making your paperless venture successful. Third party app developers have also chipped in to streamline file sharing and storage. Here are some of our favorites:
- Dropbox– Free up to 18GB with referrals, Dropbox is quickly becoming the most preferred file sharing platform out there. Access from anywhere with the new smartphone and tablet application.
- Evernote– Store documents, photos, receipts and almost anything else you can think of. It’s customizable Interface lets you organize and find files in a way that will work for you.
- SignMyPad– Available for iOS and Android. Allwos you to sign and date PDF documents which can then save right to Dropbox.
- MyFax– If you deal with clients who still use fax machines, MyFax’s mobile app allows you to send and receive fax from your smart phone and email account through a ‘MyFax’ number.
- Square– One of the hottest trends in stores looking to cut back on receipt paper is getting on board with Square. You can easily send receipts to a customers via e-mail or text message.