We tell businesses to go paperless all the time. It’s our favorite thing to tell businesses to do.
When we tell businesses to go paperless, we are usually met with a lot of we wills and we knows and we want tos. When the conversations continue, though, it’s unusual that we find a clear understanding of what being paperless actually means.
We would love to see an office operating with 0% paper in the future, but it’s unreasonable to think of it as a possibility today. When we help businesses go paperless, we aren’t trying to eliminate paper use entirely, but rather, eliminate reliance on paper.
Most of the organizations we work with have always operated with hard-copy record keeping systems. They have paper documents in paper files in file cabinets in file rooms. They’re sick of watching it pile up, and they’re sick of wasting time sifting through it to find what they need. After enough time has passed with a system like this, businesses eventually recognize that digital, paperless systems are a not a novelty but a necessity—and that’s where we come in, telling you how to go paperless.
This is the point at which people sometimes get overwhelmed and panicky, because businesses almost always wait too long to make the shift. Converting the entirety of an expansive paper record system is usually expensive, and might seem like too daunting of a task to take on. Trust us, that’s not the case.
Contrary to popular belief, the first step in implementing a paperless system is not to digitize the paper records you already have. First, you need to take control of your current processes, or stop the bleeding, as we like to put it. Look at what you need to change about your process, and then clean up the mess later on.
When you stop adding to your paper records and implement a day-forward document management strategy, you stop relying on paper and stop the problem at its source. You also start saving time and money that you can put toward a conversion project for your paper archives. It is not uncommon at all for a “paperless business” to still have a paper-based archival storage facility, especially if they’re just starting out. Being a paperless business is about your day-to-day operations, not about eliminating every scrap of paper that has ever entered the building.
Once you have a paperless process running smoothly, it’s important for paperless businesses to be paper conscious. It’s about the little things; the daily choices that each individual makes. Encourage employees to take notes on their tablets and laptops instead of notebooks and memo pads. Print to PDF instead of hard copy when you can. Immediately scan and recycle the paper documents that do come your way, rather than letting them pile up. The list goes on and on! Although these decisions may seem small and somewhat insignificant, they add up to a much larger whole—a paperless office.
To see how much money YOUR business would save with a paperless system…