There’s very little reason why companies shouldn’t go paperless. Managing reams of paper and rows of filing cabinets is hardly efficient and cost-effective, and often leads to a cluttered workspace. By contrast, transitioning to an electronic document management environment streamlines workflow and frees up office space. But doing this isn’t so straightforward, so here’s a step-by-step guide to help you.
1. Get company buy-in
The first step most businesses overlook is getting everyone on board with the transition. Even though the benefits of a paperless office are obvious to you, some employees may not be as willing to change the way they work. That’s why you need to explain to them how a paperless system can make their lives so much easier.
If they see the time and effort they can save by eliminating paper, they’re more likely to be open to change. Legal and finance departments are also concerned with issues like compliance and data security, so demonstrate the security capabilities of a document management system (DMS) to convince them that going paperless is a good idea.
2. Sort your paperwork
Once everyone on your team is aware about going paperless, your company will need to sift through folders and decide which ones should be destroyed. Keep in mind that some highly sensitive documents like invoices, receipts, and personal records must be retained for several years, so take note of document expiration dates. Then, organize your files and prepare them for scanning.
3. Select the right DMS software
With a top-notch DMS that meets your needs and budget, going paperless will be breeze.
In general, you want one that comes with advanced document capture and search, workflow automation, audit trails, and flexible storage features. If you manage sensitive files, make sure your software uses the latest firewalls, threat detection, encryption, access management, and backup systems. And if employees prefer to work remotely, consider opting for a cloud-based solution.
Once you have a shortlist of potential DMS software, it’s a good idea to sign up for free demos and trials so you and your employees can see how the software functions and whether it’s easy to use. For a more comprehensive guide on choosing the right DMS, check out our previous blog.
4. Use other technology
In addition to DMS software, using other apps can dramatically cut down paper use. Consider using platforms like Office 365 to share files digitally and allow employees to collaborate on files in real time. Instead of mailing invoices and paystubs, send them via email or secure customer portals. Accounting systems like Intacct and customer relationship management software like Dynamics CRM are also great for working with important records, and they’re completely paper-free. There are even electronic signature apps so you never have to print a document!
5. Train employees
A paperless environment requires a certain level of IT literacy. So if your employees don’t know how to use DMS software or other cloud apps, you must provide adequate training.
Devote a few days to teach employees about new software and your paperless processes. For example, your accounting department must be taught how to route and approve outstanding invoices using DMS software. Project managers should also learn how to use collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams or Office 365 Groups to coordinate their teams.
6. Stay disciplined
All the work you put in will be in vain if employees go back to old habits. If employees are having difficulty following new processes, you may have to rethink how everyone can use technology to be more efficient.
Going paperless is a challenge, so if you need more advice, the document management experts at PaperSave can help. But if you’re still skeptical about the benefits of a paperless office, we’re more than happy to offer you a free personalized demo.