7 Simple Steps for Going Paperless

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Paper documents and filing cabinets have been the way to organize information in an office, business, or at home for decades. But that doesn’t mean that physical, paper documentation is the best option. Many offices and homes worldwide are transitioning from physical documents to electronic document management systems. 

Why do they want to go paperless?  There are many reasons to get started. Follow  these 7 steps and various tips for going paperless in today’s modern and digital business climate.

More and more business people are starting to realize that paper is an expensive and inefficient way to manage their information. Small businesses and large businesses alike are turning to  services like electronic document management, which have the tools they need to go paperless. But going paperless isn’t something that happens overnight; it is a process that takes time and effort.many business owners and at-home workers are intimidated by the prospect of making the switch.

As intimidating as the concept may be, going paperless with digital information management systems is a necessity if you’re going to compete in the modern business world and still have a life outside the office.

To make it easier, read these 7 simple ways to make the switch and start going paperless..

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Step 1: Lead the Way

What do you think is the number one reason why companies don’t go paperless? The answer may surprise you.

47% of employees surveyed said that one of the top three reasons they do not go paperless is a lack of management initiatives or mandates. Essentially, businesses are  ready and willing to go paperless, but nobody is leading the way or providing the tools. Executing steps for going paperless means your home business and major company needs you to take initiative, step up, and lead the way to become a more efficient office. Your employees will be grateful for improving their work experience.

Here are some tips for going paperless. Set goals for each department and for the company as a whole that encourage everyone to transition to an electronic document management system. You may even want to set up some kind of reward initiative program for when the goal is met to encourage employees to participate in the efforts to go paperless.

The important thing about going paperless is that you lead by example. If you have your own filing cabinet of documents, take responsibility for scanning those on to an electronic system. Set goals for yourself and take ownership for meeting those goals. If your employees see you leading the way, they are more likely to follow and you’ll drive home how important going paperless really is.

Step 2: Get Everyone on Board With Going Paperless

No matter how strong the paperless example you set, your company won’t make the transition unless you have your employees on board. Make sure the employees know about the time, energy, and money saved. Introduce them to our mobile app. It gives them easy access wherever they have phone service. They can view, read, and share documents and files, without taking up any personal phone storage.

A recent survey asked businesses which departments were most resistant to a paperless work environment. As you can see, the Legal and Finance departments tend to be the most hesitant about going paperless. So how can you get them and the rest of your teams on board with the paperless plan? Here are 3 tips that might help.

 

Show them the ways going paperless benefits them: Demonstrate to people how going paperless will make their jobs easier. If they see the time, energy, and effort they can save, they’re more likely support a paperless office.

Address compliance concerns about going paperless: There’s a reason Legal and Finance departments are the most resistant to go paperless: they’re worried about compliance issues. The truth is, going paperless can actually help you to become more compliant. Paper processes expose your company to potential liability due to a lack of security or lost paperwork. On the other hand, electronic document management software possesses security measures and other features that ensure vital information is protected. Demonstrate these digital features to your team members to show them how going paperless not only doesn’t create compliance issues but can actually eliminate potential issues in existing paper documentation processes..

Show how going paperless benefits customer services: Customer service is arguably the most important part of any business. The majority of consumers today prefer electronic correspondence to paper correspondence because it is easier to handle and is more secure. Providing digital services for your customers can earn the support of your team members as they see customer satisfaction increase.

Step 3: Organize your Paper Documents and Files

Now that you’ve set up some initiative programs and gotten your team on board for going paperless, it’s time to start the dirty work. Before you begin scanning physical documents into the digital cloud, read these ways to organize what you have— odds are you have a lot.

To tackle these mounds of paper documents, you should divide the work and utilize the teams appropriately. 

Here’s how you can quickly and easily get your stacks of paper documents organized and ready to be entered into a digital system on a desktop computer or in the cloud. Once the paper documents are all organized, you can prepare to take your business, whether at home or in a corporate office, into the paperless era.

Step 4: Get Software and Get Training

While your employees are preparing their documents and files for entry, you need to find the right digital document management system to aid the process of going paperless. There are many digital document management systems out there to choose from, so you need to research and compare your options before making a decision. To help you during your search, you should sit down and make a list of the tools your business needs in a document management system service, as well as the things you want that aren’t absolute necessities. These typically involve data backup, amount of storage, number of user accounts, audit logs, employee permissions, and automation.

Once you’ve read the tips and created a list of necessary tools, you need to figure out your budget for the new office software. You may need to consult with the Finance team about this. Then, with your list in hand and budget in mind, you can start comparing cloud document management software. You should aim to find something that meets all of your business’ needs and at least a few of wants while still staying in your budget.

Get as many demonstrations and trials as you can so you can see how the software functions. You may want to let other employees test the software too, to ensure that it is usable and easy to learn by others in the office.

After selecting your software program, you need to select employees to be trained on the best way to use it. Depending on your situation and your business, you may want only certain departments to learn how to use the software program or only the leaders of certain departments. The important thing is that all employees who handle, file, and need access to information in the cloud will be able to do so digitally and confidently.

Step 5: Get Started Right the Right Way and File Electronically

One of the most important tips for going paperless is relying on the right scanner to make the transition. With employees trained in the software, you can start scanning documents and filing them electronically with a document management vendor’s scanner selection. This is also a good time for you to assess how to handle incoming documents and digital files while catching up on your backlog of existing documents. From the time you scan your first document, all incoming paperwork should be filed electronically. After all, you don’t want to be constantly playing “catch-up” when it comes to being paperless; you want to move forward with a paperless program already in place.

Start with the documents you get today, and move forward in your steps to go paperless. Make sure to keep a backup of your digital documents and files in case of an accident. Here’s another tip, if you pick a document management program that includes automatic backup, you won’t have to worry about it. Once your team is familiar with the software and the paperless process, you can worry about the backlog.

If your team is overwhelmed scanning the backlogged documents while handling their current incoming documents and digital files, you should look into hiring an additional resource, such as an intern or temp. They can work on scanning the backlogged documents while your full-time employees move forward with your new paperless processes. This enables you to get caught up more quickly so that you can become a completely paperless business.

No matter who you delegate this task to, consistency is key when making the switch to paperless. It is vital that everyone who is organizing and entering information is following the same steps and using all of the same guidelines. Set a clear goal of when you want all documents to be in the digital system. Break this goal into benchmarks so employees have a short-term goal to shoot for. Create to-do lists for every department.

Above is an example of one company’s game plan. Posting something like this in a highly visible area in the office can help motivate people to meet the benchmarks and achieve a paperless office . Try to have a reward in place for each benchmark along the way, as well as for meeting the final goal. Going paperless takes work, and your team should be rewarded for getting the job done in ways that still encourage quality work.

Step 6: Tell Clients, Tips, and Share Electronically

Once you have your current documents switched to electronic copies, you can’t stop there. Tell your clients about the digital switch you’ve made. Make sure to send out an email addressing any concerns regarding security, and tell them about all of the benefits they’ll experience from the switch. You’ll also want to introduce them to electronic sharing as well. If your clients at home share digital documents with you and sign documents electronically with a phone or computer, your company will save even more time and money.

Make sure your clients are familiar with whatever version of electronic sharing program you choose to use—email, online sharing, etc. Be willing to answer questions and provide tips to make your client’s transition  easier. Any tips or help will let your clients know you care about their success.

One of the most important steps for going paperless is also to introduce them to the electronic signature services as well. Getting your clients started with as many paper-free processes as you can will help your company to keep your paperless systems consistent, efficient, and organized on your computer.

Step 7: Enjoy the Benefits

Once you finish the steps for going paperless, much less effort is needed to ensure you stay paperless. Any following work will be avoided by minimizing printing from a computer and maintaining the consistency in naming and filing.

As you continue to use a computer to make your processes digital, you’ll see a number of benefits in your office and life outside of work. For example, savings in time and cost, as well as increased document security, and data backup. Your employees, customers, and business as a whole will benefit from making the switch to becoming a paperless office. When people at home or work ask how you had such a great business year, feel free to share these tips. After all, our main goal as a company is to improve your life by reducing stress at work.

By following the steps and tips outlined above, you can get your business’s document overload under control and have started to become a better, more efficient company.

Read more about going paperless in these resources below.

Sources

1. http://www.loyola.edu/department/paperless/resources
2. https://www.fpb.org/business-support/top-10-benefits-paperless-office-can-provide
3. http://www.thepaperlessproject.com/facts-about-paper-the-impact-of-consumption/
4. http://www.informationdynamix.com/going-paperless-better-processes-less-paper/
5. http://www.quepublishing.com/articles/article.aspx?p=1393497
6. http://www.xerox.com/assets/motion/corporate/pages/programs/information-overload/pdf/Xerox-white-paper-3-25.pdf