There’s no doubt about it: The age of paper files and cluttered file cabinets is over. The future is in digitized files. With good document management software (DMS) and a well-maintained backlog of digital files, you will be able to save physical space in your office, find files more easily, and boost overall workplace productivity.
Unfortunately, many businesses tend to put off going paperless, simply because the process of digitizing huge backlogs of files is so daunting. Indeed, going through old file cabinets, scanning documents into the computer, and uploading them into your DMS is going to be a time investment. However, the returns you will get on that investment are absolutely worth the time and effort that scanning backlogged documents will take.
The first and most obvious reason to digitize your business’s old documents is that doing so will, in the long run, be a big aid to office productivity. If you already use an electronic document management system—such as eFileCabinet—then you know how easy it is to search and find files in the system. With eFileCabinet, you can store documents in different folders and archives, quickly browse the system based on date and file name, set permissions for different files, and more. Compare this digitized process to digging around in a filing cabinet, and the latter begins to seem even more like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Digitized documents can also be accessed from anywhere. One of the biggest problems with paper filing systems is that if you need to look up an old document, you either need to be at the office yourself or have someone there who can go and sift through filing cabinets for you. With digitized documents and good DMS, you can search files from your work computer, your personal laptop, or even your mobile device. Using document management software is simply a better way to ensure that you can find the files you need when you need them.
The benefits of document retention features are also a huge plus in favor of electronic document management systems like eFileCabinet. Using eFileCabinet’s document retention system, you can schedule times for old files to be automatically deleted or archived. For instance, if your business is required to keep copies of certain files for 5 or 10 years, eFileCabinet’s document retention can schedule a specific date for those files to be deleted or to be moved to a new folder or directory.
This document retention system is incredibly useful for helping businesses stay compliant with different rules, regulations, and security protocols. By automatically deleting old, irrelevant, or out-of-date documents, eFileCabinet saves a secretary or administrative assistant the trouble of having to go through and shred old paper files. It’s also a good way to ensure that confidential documents—particularly those including sensitive client or customer information—are not kept around when they are no longer being used.
Cutting Down on Wastefulness
In addition to helping with productivity and compliance, electronic document management systems like eFileCabinet can also curb wastefulness. In fact, sometimes the biggest motivation for going paperless is to improve company sustainability. By doing away with your company’s paper filing system and going digital, you can greatly reduce your carbon footprint.
Just look at the stats. The average person in the United States uses 700 pounds of paper each year. As a country, the US uses 68 million trees for paper consumption each year—30% of the global total. In working to go paperless, your company can do its part in cutting into those alarmingly high figures. Plus, going paperless gives the added benefit of removing (or drastically reducing) the money in your budget that is currently going toward buying paper, ink, and toner.
How to Start Digitizing Backlogged Documents
The first step of taking your office paperless is easy. Just invest in a piece of document management software like eFileCabinet and start filing all of your new documents digitally. The tougher part of the process is scanning your backlogged documents and filing all of them into the appropriate folders. To make the process go faster, you may consider taking the following steps:
- Hire a temp: If no one on your current payroll can spare the time that would be necessary to scan backlogged files into your electronic document management system, hire a temp or two to do the job. The compromise will allow you to finish the project in a relatively cheap and painless fashion, without reducing office productivity.
- Invest in a new scanner (or two): You might have a scanner at the office already (or a printer/scanner combo), but you will probably want something a bit fancier for digitizing documents. State-of-the-art scanners with automatic document feed, double-sided scanning, and other special features can help to expedite the paperless process significantly.
- Don’t forget the shredder: You need to make sure you are only shredding documents that have either already been digitized or are out of date and don’t need to be digitized. As a result, the best practice for destroying old files is to shred as you digitize. Once you’ve scanned a file and uploaded it into your DMS, it goes in the shredder. Like with your scanners, though, you might want to invest in a shredder that works faster and has more features than the average product.
There’s more to going paperless than just digitizing your files. Ditching the fax machine, creating and using digital forms, and moving to a paperless billing model are all good ways to cut your company’s paper usage in half. However, moving your filing system into the digital realm and scanning backlogged documents into the system will have the biggest impact—not just on your company’s paper usage, but also on productivity, convenience, compliance, and more.
Get started on the process today by investing in eFileCabinet’s document management software. Fill out the form on this page to get a 15-minute demo of eFileCabinet products.