There are lots of reasons to go paperless, but no one easy way to migrate all of your data exists. Going paperless requires you to change how things get done around the office, and decisions need to be made about what to do with the paperwork you need to keep. Fortunately, we’re here to help you make the transition.
Evaluate Your Current Paper Use
Before you start looking at document management software (DMS) or converting your paper files to electronic files, it’s a good idea to evaluate your current use of paper. Does your office revolve around written memos, paper invoices, and handwritten order forms? Where do your employees use paper on a daily basis? The best way to find out is to take a look around the office, but you may also want to ask your employees.
Come Up with New Solutions
It’s easy to replace traditional filing cabinets with online document storage. But what might be more difficult is your ability to stop using paper in the future. Fortunately, once you start thinking of solutions, you’ll find that paper is not as necessary as you thought it was.
For example, if your accounting department receives paper invoices and uses those to process payments, then you need to figure out how to change the process. Many organizations already email invoices to their customers, and your accounting software probably gives you the option to pull up the electronic invoice copy when it’s time to pay it.
Similarly, instead of having your salespeople fill out handwritten order forms, let them do the ordering on their laptop or tablet. And internal memos can easily be replaced by emails.
You won’t find a solution to get rid of every single piece of paper in your office right away, but you should know how to avoid the excessive use of paper in the future.
Implement Document Management Software
Before you make any changes to the way your organization conducts business, it’s important to select and implement document management software. DMS is necessary for your company to store your paperwork in a way that is secure and easy to find. When memos are replaced by emails or another method, these emails still need to be saved and filed for later reference. The same is true for electronic invoices and order forms.
Train Your Employees on How to Use Your DMS
Document management software is not useful if your employees have no clue what it’s for. It’s important to give everyone access to your DMS so that they can start exploring it. You can still keep your company files secure from unauthorized access by providing specific user-based access.
Take It One Step at a Time
It takes time for big organizations to change. The good thing is that you can take it one step at a time to make it easier on your employees, customers, and vendors. Instead of requiring your employees to stop using paper once and for all, you may implement the use of inter-office emails instead of memos. This allows you to focus on one process at a time and help your staff catch on to a new system.
Once paper memos are a thing of the past, you can take a look at your invoices and then your order forms. What you tackle first is up to you.
Set a Deadline
Going paperless is a big step. Whether you take it one step at a time or declare a paperless future starting on a certain day, it’s important to have deadlines. It shouldn’t take more than a few weeks for your employees to stop using handwritten memos or order forms. You may need to give your vendors a little bit more time to get used to electronic invoices, but a deadline can help there, too.
Scan Important Paperwork
One of the biggest challenges of going paperless is handling the existing paperwork. What should you do with the records inside of your filing cabinets? Having to scan everything might seem like an insurmountable burden. The trick to moving to a paperless office is finding a compromise between scanning every paper in your office and keeping some paper records.
Some companies only scan paperwork that’s absolutely vital to their everyday operations. The rest stays inside of the filing cabinet and gets moved to archives after a year or two. Other companies make the complete switch and scan every piece of paper. If you want all of your records in electronic form, then you may want to hire an outside company or a few temporary employees to get that done for you.
Quick Tips for Making the Switch Easier
Here are a few suggestions that you can use to make life easier for you and your employees. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed with going paperless, then you might appreciate some of the following tips.
- Tell your employees why you’re going paperless but keep it to the point. Nobody likes to read long-winded corporate emails.
- Ask your employees to help you make the switch. Let them own the process of eliminating paper in their department. They might have better ideas than you.
- Encourage employee feedback by holding random drawings from the responses.
- Identify your super-users and enlist their cooperation. Employees who are tech-savvy are more likely to jump onboard. Enlist those people to train the rest of your staff.
- Celebrate your success with your employees by treating them to lunch or a fun event or give them a day off.
Ready? Set… Go paperless with eFileCabinet!