Shelves upon shelves of dust-covered documents, hours spent perusing folders looking for a single piece of data, desks piled high with contracts from 3 years ago—half a century after IBM claimed the paperless office was the next big thing, almost 1/3rd of offices are still overrun by their docs. If you don’t start going paperless at work, you are losing time, money, and your sanity. Use these 5 quick steps to eliminating waste and boosting your company’s flexibility, productivity, and profitability.
According to Nitro Software, 31% of companies are “piled high with paperwork.” Which is strange since half of all CEOs say creating a paperless office is a key priority. Moreover, whatever the cost of eliminating paper, most companies recoup it within 18 months. 28% even achieve full ROI in less than 6 months!
OK, so, key priority, big money benefits, basically saving the world — why is “create a paperless office” still the business equivalent of “lose weight” as a New Year’s resolution?
Creating a Paperless Office – What’s the problem?
The problem is businesses don’t know how to do it and usually follow bad advice. Forget all of the big investments, how-to guides, or companies promising to help you usher in the 21st century for big fees. Here are 5 quick steps that are guaranteed to work:
1) Track Everything and Make a Report
Start by auditing your company’s internal printing procedures. Doesn’t matter if you’re a small florist or a larger organisation, finding out what you’re printing now is the first step to a paperless office. Track printers, copiers, shipping information, and anything else that comes through the door.
From there, determine what is and isn’t necessary. Set small goals to reduce consumption and ask yourself “do I really need to print this?” before clicking that printer icon.
2) Make it Harder to Print
This is one of the simplest and least expensive measures you can take. Making it harder to print should be step #2 once you create a report and set your company on a mission.
First, remove the printer or if you must keep it, minimise the amount of time you use it (this won’t be a problem because you are going to digitize your documents—see #3!). Set the default on your printing settings to “save to PDF” and follow the digitise steps on where to save the PDF doc.
Now let’s move on to some heavy lifting.
3) Digitize Your Documents with PDF Software
Taking all of your documents and digitizing them provides major benefits. Companies that exchange filing cabinets for digital files:
- To Save time
- Save space
- Save money
- And Save the planet
There’s even increased security of password protected files.
Once you have all the documents you actually need to keep, get yourself some PDF software with optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities. OCR is able to recognize text within scanned images and documents. All you have to do is:
- Gather your docs
- Scan them into the computer
- Open your PDF software
- Activate OCR
- Save the files to your computer
That’s it! Now that entire filing cabinet is just one computer file with the same capabilities of a paper document.
4) Go Paperless with Suppliers and Banks
Now that you no longer print much at all at work, it’s time to stop any new paper from coming in the mail. Tell your suppliers to send all your bills via email and sign up for eStatements from your bank. Don’t forget purchase orders (POs)! And by now, if you send invoices you should be doing this electronically. If not, we need to talk !
That should put a damper on the flood of new documents coming in.
5) Use Cloud Technology
The final step toward a paperless office is to equip yourself with the technology you need to stay paperless. A few programs that MUST be on any small business’ radar are:
- Google Docs – Allows you to create documents and collaborate by sharing links with each other. Also storage is basically infinite.
- Dropbox – Send files to anyone with an account instantly.
- Xero – Cloud accounting software for tax season.
- Soda PDF – Soda PDF is the revolutionary new way to create documents, scan paper ones, secure them, and share them with the entire company.
A paperless office is within reach for every business no matter how big or small. Don’t pay attention to complex procedures or hire a company to help. Just follow these 5 steps and you’ll be able to see over those stacks of documents in no time.