“Old habits die hard,” a certain friend replied when I told him it’s about time he and his 26 employees should go paperless. He justified that foregoing paper documents and jamming everything into computers simply didn’t make sense in retail.
Two years ago, though, he finally accepted the challenge. And boy, did he and his team struggle. After many months of painful transition, he was proud to finally put the word “paperless” under the brand name in all his digital ads.
Now, we’re on the quest to help other companies make the switch. After all, I found that going paperless doesn’t just help the environment. It means less clutter for your business, quick access to all files, faster communication with clients, and reduced operational costs (no more papers, printers, and whatnot).
Managing Paper Documents
During the transition, the most important aspect is how you’ll manage the paper documents that you already have.
- Create a Unified Organization System – Use a document management software or create a simple digital file system. I suggest organizing it by party (supplier or client) and date. Prevent security breaches by setting up authentication protocols.
- Get Everybody On Board – Divide the work between departments or teams. Set a deadline for organizing the files and sort them by type or date. Make sure the deadlines are reasonable because, chances are, you have a lot of files.
- Pare Down Unnecessary Files – Determine which files are truly vital to your firm. Send all the others straight to the shredder. If they’re important, create digital back-ups — scan or run them through OCR before sending them to the shredder.
Redesigning Business Processes
Your operations use paper heavily, but that doesn’t mean your company should rely on them forever. You need to put a solid system in place to prepare everything for the shift, though. So, be ready to make major changes in your business. Before you truly go paperless, here are some things you have to settle:
- Choose Electronic Invoicing – This is an efficient way to manage transactional documents. It eliminates the need to scan and key in data manually. You can process large volumes of invoices quickly, too.
- Invest in E-Procurement Software – Digital software streamlines operations. If you work with many third-party businesses, it’s wise to invest in a Servicenow vendor risk management software. If you think your business doesn’t need heavy software, then use the trusty Google Docs and Sheets. Trust me, it’s convenient to eliminate paper request documents, reports and contracts.
- Use Digital Signatures – This is handy for a CEO on the move. When the scanner jams or an employee forgot where he or she placed the files, your business loses precious time. Using electronic signatures on a digital file is convenient and fast. Your team can create, modify and sign forms right away.
Leading by Example
The one thing that you should keep in mind is that this won’t happen overnight. It took my friend over a year to truly eliminate paper from his business processes — and he has less than a hundred employees.
The bright side is you’re doing the planet a favor and, at the same time, streamlining your processes. So, break down the transition into manageable steps and start with the areas that can easily make the transition. Educate your employees and appoint people to coordinate the changes. Going paperless is a team effort, after all.
More importantly, remind your employees that it’s not just for you. Going paperless means you’re making a positive impact on the environment.