With new and changing technology, more and more businesses are transitioning from overflowing paper document cabinets to organized digital formats.
However, this does not mean that going paperless is an easy thing to do as you’ll need to do adequate planning and brace your team and stakeholders for the change. To make it easier for you, we have detailed seven ways that will help you go paperless this year.
Why Go Paperless?
1. Faster Access to Information
Digital documents are easy to store, retrieve, index, and search than paper files. This saves your time and increases productivity.
2. Reduced Clutter
Not only is paperwork on shelves and desks untidy, but also is it inefficient. Organizing digital files is simpler than doing the same for paper files, and this will leave your office looking neater.
3. Reduced Administration Costs
Digital filing will save you costs associated with printing, postage and file store management.
4. Simpler Disaster Recovery
All your company’s documents can be stored on one computer as opposed to rooms of shelving.
This means that in the event of floods or fire, you can quickly recover your files if they are in a digital format than would be the case for stacked paper files.
An average U.S. worker uses 10,000 paper sheets per year, and about 375 million toner and ink cartridges are thrown away annually, ending up in incinerators and landfills.
By transitioning to digital filing, not only will you stay organized but also will you have made a positive impact to the environment.
You might also enjoy a variety of tax credits and rebates from the U.S. Department of Energy for enacting eco-friendly business practices.
6. Easier Growth
Moving from an old to a new office becomes easier if you do not have to carry loads of filing cabinets with you.
7. Faster Communication
It takes a day or more for paper mail to reach the intended recipient. However, email documents arrive in a matter of seconds.
You can therefore send your invoices, orders, and contact your clients and stakeholders more easily after shifting to paperless operations.
7 Ways on How to Go Paperless
Essentially, shifting to paperless operations comes down to replacing paper documents with pixels. Although this might require some substantial investment, it will help you free up a ton of working capital for your small business, and will not cost you as much as managing paper documents would.
Below are some practical strategies that have proven useful in helping businesses transition to paperless operations.
1. Shift to Paperless Storage
Paper documents pile up over time, reducing your working space, and end up making your operations harder.
Thankfully, shifting to cloud storage helps at avoiding this. You can choose systems such as Google’s DropBox, and Google Drive among others, depending on the needs of your business.
By having an online storage system, you and your team will be able to access required files on the go, share, and edit them, regardless of your location.
Most online file storage systems will also give your documents an extra layer of protection.
2. Copy Your Documents with Scanners
If you have already existing paper documents, you will need to convert them into digital copies to go paperless.
One option is scanning the documents into PDF format and uploading the copies to your cloud storage. This will require you to have a printer’s scanner or an expert recommended software to scan files and documents.
As a security measure, shred your documents after scanning and safely uploading them to your online storage system. If you still need hard copies of some documents, you can then keep them in a safety deposit box to be part of your company’s backup or disaster recovery plan.
3. Shift to Paperless Meetings
Other than printing handouts for your meetings, you can transition to information sharing technology.
For instance, you can use an HDMI cable to cast a slide show presentation from your laptop to a projector or television when addressing your business meetings. You can then share the presentation with the participants through Email or the cloud.
4. Shift to Electronic Communication
The easiest and least expensive way of going paperless is using Email. Communicating through Email is faster than sending letters, and you will definitely get a quicker response from the recipients and have all your communication stored on your mobile device or computer.
You can also use text messaging for sending memos as opposed to circulating paper memos to each employee or department.
Electronic calendars will also make it easy for you to schedule client calls, conference calls, time off, and meetings without having to waste paper.
5. Move to Digital Receipts
Unlike paper receipts, digital receipts do not fade with time and don’t leave customers guessing about the amount they paid some time back.
Not only will digital receipts save your paper costs and keep your business paperless, but also will they help you save time during transactions. You can also tailor your digital receipt system to meet specific customer needs.
Besides, it is easy to merge your digital receipt system to your accounting system for easier bookkeeping.
6. Invest in Efficient Equipment
One possible drawback of going paperless is a potential increase in energy consumption. To counter this, you can invest in energy-saving devices like LED lighting and energy-efficient printers to offset you the costs associated with more electronic usage.
Going paperless might also call for the purchase of new computers and portable payment systems that can be costly. If you are not in a position to afford this, you can lease expensive equipment to save on up-front costs, upgrades, maintenance, and repairs.
7. Do More of Online Marketing
A Harvard Business Review found out that the response rate for email and direct mail marketing is almost equal. Therefore, it makes more sense to employ digital marketing over sending direct mails.
Email marketing costs less than a direct mail campaign and is more effective and less time-consuming.
Send offers and newsletters on email, be keen on your social media marketing, and adopt online paid ad campaigns. This will be more resourceful considering that most people spend much of their free time on the internet.
As you capitalize on email communication and marketing, make sure that you reduce the amount of the junk mail you receive. By this, you will cut down on waste and have a well-organized feedback system.
6 Steps for Incorporating a Paperless System in Your Organization
- Lead the way: As the business owner or manager, be the one to take the initial step, and participate in goal setting.
- Get everybody on your team on board: Other than leading the way; you need to tell your employees about the compliance terms of going digital. You can even introduce some reward initiative for employees who take part in the efforts to go paperless.
- Organize your paper documents well for conversion into digital formats
- Invest in the right equipment and get adequate training.
- Start filing your documents electronically
- Inform your clients and all stakeholders of your business about the shift and start sharing electronically.
Once you shift to paperless operation, you will save time, cost, enjoy productivity, and increase document security. Our tips above have proven to be useful for many businesses, and we hope that they will work on yours.
Should you need help in the transition, don’t hesitate to outsource the right digital technology and competent skillset from a reputable firm.