15th July 2019
For many small to medium sized businesses (SMEs), there is a quiet comfort in sticking with processes that are proven to work for them – especially since there is more pressure on them to keep their heads above water than larger or more corporate companies.
However daunting or ruthless making changes may sound though, there are some changes that are in an SME’s best interests to make – one of which being the act of going paperless.
In fact, thousands of companies worldwide are moving away from traditional paper-based workflows to this concept of working in a completely paper-free environment.
Four in ten people would describe themselves as ‘paper people’. It’s a crazy statistic in this day and age, but it’s true, nonetheless. This is very much a traditional approach to working which, it would seem, many people still adopt to this day.
The biggest wastage of paper in the office is a result of the following:
- People choosing fax over email.
- Printing emails.
- Printing presentations.
- Using notepads.
- Letters being printed.
- Envelopes being used.
- Poor or no use of recycling bins.
What are the Benefits of Going Paperless?
The obvious benefit that might spring straight to mind when thinking of a paperless office is that the environment is being looked after with all of that unnecessary paper being saved; and while protecting our trees is definitely a good thing, there are plenty more benefits that should be able to convince you to venture away from those paper trails you know and love.
Easy storage and accessibility – There are a myriad of ways to safely and securely store your documents without the need for physical filing systems, including Cloud-based services such as Google Drive and Dropbox which are equally as easy to use as they are to access.
Reduce search time – Using services such as those mentioned above (or even simply using a structured folder system within your computer Documents) make sifting through files a thing of the past as you can simply enter the title or a keyword into a search engine and watch as the file you are looking for is found for you.
Automatic audit trail – Businesses of all shapes and sizes have one thing in common, at the very least – compliance. There are plenty of strict rules and guidelines that must be adhered to, including the need to store records for a certain period of time – usually many years. Digital document management systems allow you to keep such audit trails with no fear of reaching a storage limit.
Security – There’s no doubt about this one. Storing your files online is probably the safest option available to you. Data saved to these services are stored on secure servers, meaning that only authorised users are able to retrieve the documents which takes away the risk of paper documents falling into the wrong hands.
In addition to the security offered, storing files in this way also protects you against loss due to circumstances beyond your control such as fire or flooding.
Better customer service – With ease of access, comes the added benefit of having all of your customer data available at the click of a button, allowing you to retrieve information such as customer orders and documents in a flash in order to proactively provide customer service and respond to enquiries faster than before.
Email efficiency – There are systems available which can communicate with your server-based email system and allow you to save emails into them just like any other ordinary document, making saving and searching your email history oh so simple.
Return on Investment – It’s not necessary to spend a lot of money to implement a digital document service. There are plenty of cost-effective options on the market which will see a return on investment in no time at all. At the end of the day, if your processes currently entail vast paper trails, the amount of time you will save by not having to manage this alone will save you a pretty amount of money in the long run.
How you can Start the Ball Rolling
If you’re a longstanding company – or even a new SME just starting out, for that matter – you’ve probably accumulated a substantial amount of paperwork to date and I bet you’re thinking, “going paperless sounds like a lot of hassle!”
Turning your business into a paper-free zone doesn’t have to be as laborious as it sounds though. Here are a few tips to get you started.
No need for a scanner – When it comes to resources, all you really need is the internet and a few software recommendations to get you into the habit. There’s no need for a big, fancy scanner as the aim here is that you won’t be using it. Of course, you will need to scan files in initially to get everything you already have into your new storage system, but that’s nothing that a print, or in the technological world we’re in today, a smartphone can’t do. Set yourself a deadline for all paper files to be scanned by (make it realistic) and just scan as you go. It doesn’t all need to be done in one hit once you decide that you want to become paperless.
Keep your printer as a backup – If you’ve already invested in a state-of-the-art printer with all the bells and whistles, please don’t fret. It doesn’t need to go. In fact, it’s probably wise to keep it in case you have a client visit the office who requires something on paper, for example. There are always going to be exceptions to the rule here, but it’s advisable to be strict in terms of its usage. People are bound to slip up in the beginning since getting into new habits can be hard, but once the new rules are set and everyone is used to the new way of working, you won’t look back.
Storage – Much like getting used to the new printing rules, staff will need a little time to navigate and get used to the new processes around document storage and management. The best way to help them settle into the new routine is to set up a clear and simple to use folder system inside of your chosen resource and provide training to ensure that they know exactly how to use it.
Ditch the notepads – Remove paper notepads from your office and replace them with a notepad application. It won’t take you long to implement and it will prove to be more efficient in the long run, as you can share, upload and make notes collaboratively.
Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.