Reducing your office’s reliance on paper delivers a number of benefits. A partial list of benefits includes:
- Faster response time to customer questions and ability to find documents for internal use
- When combined with a solid data backup strategy, additional protection against lost data
- Decreased storage costs
- Automated workflows for faster approvals on documents, e.g., invoices
I don’t think paper will disappear in my professional lifetime, but using less paper will be good for your business.
What are the steps you need to take to get there? These seven steps will get you started on the path to a successful less-paper journey.
Step 1 -- Understand That Paper Slows Your Business Down
If you don’t realize how much paper negatively impacts your office, it’s easy to accept the congestion paper causes as the way things are done.
Think about your own use of paper. Do you lose documents on your desk? Or spend time thumbing through manila folders in filing cabinets? Manila folders were invented sometime in the 1800s. How many other technologies invented over 150 years ago do you still rely on to access your information?
To find a single document can take 15 minutes (or more if misfiled).
Document management allows you to find your documents in seconds. The choice is yours -- continue to spend hours each week simply finding the documents you need or find documents in seconds and use the rest of your time to get work done.
We created an infographic to illustrate the paper challenge. Click here for instant access to End the Not-So-Great Office Paper Chase With Document Management.
Step 2 -- Use Your Copier to Scan Paper Documents
If you have a copier, you are able to begin digitizing your documents immediately.
While many offices focus on the print and copy functionality, scanning documents with your copier is a great way to share documents (when you use apps to scan to email or scan to an online document repository - Dropbox, Google Docs, or a DM repository, e.g., from Laserfiche).
That’s right, if you want to start removing paper from your office, you can start now -- no special software needed (though process automation software can deliver tremendous benefits by eliminating manual workflows). If you do want to start removing the stacks and piles of paper, I encourage you to read these tips we’ve put together for you: How To Use Your Copier to Scan a Document - Eliminate Paper Clutter and Find Information Faster.
Step 3 -- Cut Cost and Waste With Print Rules
Nearly half of copies and printed documents are never used. One simple way to eliminate waste is by creating and enforcing print rules. Limit who can print in color, route print jobs to the most cost-effective printer, and track every print job so you can begin to pinpoint areas to improve.
Step 4 -- Educate Yourself
Keep reading this blog of course! You can also learn more about less-paper options for your business from vendors such as LaserFiche (they have an excellent blog). Online magazines such as KMWorld, ECMworld, and DOCUMENT Strategy are also excellent resources. Independent professional organizations, such as AIIM and ARMA focus on how to best manage information for information professionals and records managers, respectively.
Step 5 -- Read about other’s experiences
If you’re considering using document management or otherwise pursuing a less-paper strategy, learn from others. You should ask your implementation partner for customer references. You can also look for online groups on LinkedIn to share knowledge and ask questions.
Reading case studies can also give you ideas for how to improve how your office manages its documents. We have two resources for you:
- “Oh My Gosh, I Can Find This Immediately” - A Document Management Case Study
- 3 Document Management Stories
Step 6 -- Decide if you could work better
Once you have a clear view of less-paper tools, take a step back and think about your current business processes:
- Are there stacks of paper in the recycle tray every day?
- Can you answer customer questions immediately or do you have to call them back because you can’t find the right information?
- How many minutes (or hours) do people spend looking for documents and filing them?
- How much do you spend for off-site storage of paper files?
As you think about your current processes and how you access and use information, if you think you could benefit from less paper in your office; it’s time for the next step.
Step 7 - Contact the Experts
It’s time to talk to potential partners who can help move your office from paper heavy to paper light. Advanced Systems can help with print assessment. Get started today.