Going paperless even a mere 10 years ago may have been seen as impossible, impractical or just a plain bad idea. But as technology has rocketed forward and more businesses have seen efficiency gains and cost savings, and have embraced the concept of sustainability and being eco-friendly, ditching paper in favor of electronic records is gaining more steam.
Looking to start a paperless record system, but not sure you want to take the plunge? The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers these fast and easy small steps to get started.
- Scan and save all paper documents as a PDF to your chosen virtual destination – management software programs allow you to save documents, link emails, and integrate calendars in one easy-to-use place.
- Use an electronic program to maintain billable time records.
- Use instant messaging programs to leave messages or communicate electronically with colleagues.
- Maintain hard copies of only what is absolutely necessary – going paperless doesn’t mean that you’ll no longer need to have certain documents in paper form.
- Send electronic faxes instead of paper faxes.
Advantages and disadvantages of paperless systems
- Easier to find in electronic system
- Less physical space taken up
- Eliminates need to print, mail and ship documents to clients
- Reduces chance of losing documents
- Opportunity for employees to work remotely
- Improves image of company as eco-friendly
- May have to upgrade computer systems
- May need to hire IT person to monitor system, train new users and perform regular backups
- Must be monitored for privacy and computer viruses
- Employee resistance to change
- Human error in scanning and filing process
Source: Demand Media
Jason Stahl is a Cleveland-based writer and frequent Snow Magazine contributor. A version of this article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Snow Magazine.
The art of scanning
The key is scanning correctly, making sure the scanner is truly capturing what you want, storage of what you scan, redundant back-up of what you scan, stored in different locations, and being able to quickly access what you scan. Then, depending on the sensitivity of what you’ve scanned, you may need to shred the documents. The benefits are not having to take up so much space with file cabinets, and having data at your fingertips that you don’t have to get up and search for. Plus, fire protection. If you have a fire, paper documents can either be burned or destroyed by water from sprinklers.”
— Mark Claypool, consultant and business owner