5 Easy Steps to Transition to a Paperless Office
This is Part 4 of a four part series entitled ‘The Paperless Office Examined’. For Part 1, which discusses the benefits of going paperless, go here. Part 2, which talks about the cons and how you can overcome them, can be found here and Part 3 introduces some affordable, cross-platform software and devices that can be used in your paperless office.
So we’ve given you all the information you need to thrive in the paperless office world and now you need to know where to begin. You didn’t think we were just going to abandon you, did you? Here we’ve outlined 5 easy steps.
Step 1 – Inform staff and assign duties
We recommend you do this first since you will need their input regarding their daily processes to make sure that you establish a system that really works. Plus, it’s good to have them buy in from the beginning so they can feel like they are part of the process, rather than having it thrust upon them. A great way to introduce them to the paperless system is by showing them this series of articles.
Step 2 – Determine what to do with your paper
You have two main sources of paper – the ‘historical paper’ is what you currently have in your file cabinets in the office while ‘future paper’ refers to the documents and letters you will inevitably get from clients and suppliers after you transition. Some paper you may decide to keep as paper such as contracts. You have to identify what you have and what to do with them.
Step 3 – Establish your paperless system and transition plan
A flowchart may help you to visualize what your fully functioning paperless system will look like. It should include the fully-detailed process of where documents are coming from, to where they will be stored and how they will be retrieved. This system will look different for everyone so it’s important you consider what your business processes are. Next, you can create a timetable of your transition plan – how to take your business from where it is now to the paperless realm you want to enter. This will be the most time-consuming part. Make sure to do trial runs to ensure that your process will actually work.
Step 4 – Purchase software and/or hire external help
As we mentioned in Part 3 of this series, there are some great programs, software and devices made just for the paperless office. That list wasn’t exhaustive so you most likely will have to do some research on your own to find out what program suits your needs and your budget. For the conversion of your historical files, it may be beneficial to hire data entry assistants online through a site like oDesk or Freelancers.com. That will free up your staff to do what you actually hired them to do.
Step 5 – Inform external partners and see if they can make your transition easier
Some businesses today do offer the option to send you an electronic invoice or bill or whatever other document they release on a regular basis. This helps them cut down on the costs and time to print and mail them to you. (See, other benefits already!) Let them know about your transition mission and see if they have any options that you can benefit from.
And that’s it! We hope you enjoyed our first series post. Tell us what you think and if you want more!