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by Justin Guinn | Updated Aug. 5, 2022 – First published on May 18, 2022
Image source: Getty Images
You’ve heard it before, and here it is again: Digital transformation is a must.
There are a ton of layers to that statement, and one layer that’s become relatively low-hanging fruit is implementing a paperless office. It’s been apparent for some time that paper-based document management and business dealings are expensive and inefficient.
Put simply, you must commit to going paperless in the office. It’s a move that positively impacts your budget, business efficiency, and brand positioning as well as the world at large.
It’s time to adopt digital document management best practices by implementing communication strategies and productivity apps that eliminate the need for paper.
Regardless of your business, it’s well past time for you to adopt a digital filing system and go paperless. But there are a few critical considerations to keep in mind before implementing your new paperless filing system.
You’ll need to address these key hurdles before working through the best practices highlighted below.
There’s just no need to continue operating so inefficiently. (via CloudPoint Technology) Image source: Author
Going paperless is the right move for all businesses, but you still need to work through how your new paperless operation will uniquely impact your business metrics.
Moving to a paperless, digitally driven organization should definitely save money in your business budget, even after paying for your document management system.
It should also increase efficiency across the board. Two efficiency boosters include reducing human error in lost papers and incorrect filings and decreasing the time between submitting bids to clients and closing deals with e-signing documents.
There are innate technology core competencies that employees and clients will need in order to successfully transition to a paperless operation. The day-to-day experience with your new document management systems will be similar to navigating your business website.
So as long as people are comfortable executing basic online browsing and using websites, they should be fine with the transition.
Still, it’s a good idea to mitigate any issues by building proper instruction documentation to walk clients through the process and provide struggling employees with a guide.
Keep your instructions as simple as possible by incorporating some screenshots and limiting each instructional section to a single task.
For example, you should be able to share instructions on how to upload a file to a particular folder without having to share all the instructions for e-signing and other tasks.
Once you’ve made the switch to digital, you’re going to have a bunch of dormant equipment laying around your office. While this isn’t hugely impactful for your business, you do need to determine what will happen with your retired printers, copiers, fax machines, etc.
You may be able to recoup some money by selling them. If that’s too much hassle, you can probably donante them and have someone come take them off your hands. Just get a plan in place so that you’re not suddenly wondering what to do with a bunch of bulky office equipment.
You’re ready to go paperless in your business. It’s rightfully exciting, as it provides tons of positive impact to your operation, your personal branding, and of course the environment.
Your transition to paperless will be easier than you think. (via Ezop) Image source: Author
Here are five best practices to ensure you have a smooth transition to becoming a paperless business and installing a sustainable operation to take on the future.
A document management system is the foundation on which you’ll operate your paperless business. It is your new digital filing cabinet and file retrieval system, as well as a solution for sharing and collaborating on files.
You’ll use your documentation retention solution as an essential tool to create, secure, and share critical documents, so be sure you take the time to get the system that’s best for your business needs.
And make sure you have the technical ability to operate and manage the system. If you take care of your own website management, you should be fine with managing your new document management system.
Here are a few tips for adopting and implementing a document management system.
A major benefit of a document management system is the ease with which you can find documents. But this search capability doesn’t just happen — it requires tons of organizational effort and detailed tagging inputs.
So before you can bring on your new document management system, you’ll need to account for all the digital and paper-based documents you already have. This means scanning, uploading, organizing, categorizing, tagging, formatting, and much, much more.
This will most definitely be the largest hurdle in transitioning to a paperless office, so start ASAP and work to get ahead of this project so that it costs you less time in the future.
Here are a few tips for organizing your existing documents to ensure a detailed and easily searchable document database.
You must lead by example to make a successful transition to going paperless. Regardless of the new document management software and organization apps you implement, your employees need to see that you’re committed to the paperless cause.
This type of top-down leadership is essential for managing any kind of change in your business.
Here are a few tips to help you lead by example as you go paperless with your business operation.
Employee engagement and buy-in is critical for making a seamless transition to your new paperless office and operating style. You need to focus on ways to engage employees and get them motivated and committed to making the change to paperless.
Leading by example through top-down change management is essential, but you should also consider additional tactics to rally your employees toward the cause, such as gamification and training exercises.
Here are a few tips to ensure your employees become equally as committed to going paperless as you.
Take advantage of employees who are excited about and committed to going paperless by assigning them as paperless champions.
These champions will become quasi-experts on the transition and new systems and provide a helpful and willing resource for any questions that employees have along the journey.
Here are two tips for establishing and choosing champions to support the transition to paperless and adoption of new document software.
If you’re serious about going paperless, these considerations and best practices will help you build the path to get there. The technology to do so has been around for a while, and it continues to get more affordable, easier to use, and feature-rich every year.
All the tools are there to take your entire business into the digital realm, but it’s up to you to lead your people through the archaic paper wasteland and show them the ease and efficiency that awaits them in their new paperless business.
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Justin Guinn is an SMB technology expert writing for The Ascent and The Motley Fool.
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