One of the bigger buzz phrases in the business world over the last few years has been the idea of going ‘paperless.’ While that seems like a great goal, it’s not really all that realistic. In fact, we’re finding that the more people push online document management – the more they seem to be clinging to paper documents. Still, being able to move a considerable amount of your files online can reap some obvious benefits; benefits like less storage, disaster recovery and most importantly – faster access to the information you need to help your business run better.
Still the one question looms: Where do you start? That’s the question we’ll attempt to answer today. Going ‘more paperless’ is a big decision – a good decision – but also one that will take time and a decent amount of planning on your end to make it all come together. Here are some tips we’ve compiled to help you get started.
Make sure you have full buy-in from your employees – As with any significant paradigm shift in an office environment, old habbits die slowly and most people hate change. The most critical step in the process of going ‘more paperless’ is to get the full buy-in of your office staff. Without that commitment you can expect your employees going back to their old routines quickly and your plan will go nowhere.
Plan, then plan more – Once you feel like you’ve got full buy in from your employees, it’s time to sit down and evaluate your current business processes. Where is your workflow bottlenecking? Where are the most common areas where documents need to be accessed quickly? How are you filing your current documents? How do your employees retrieve documents and do they do it the same way? Once you identify those areas that need improvement, you can then develop a plan to capture your documents digitally and move them to a place where everyone can have fast, easy access to them.
Start small – One of the best ways to waste piles of cash is to go entirely paperless all at once. More often than not this creates mass confusion and is far too big of a shock to the office culture. That results in a loss of buy-in and a lot of money spent in areas where perhaps going paperless isn’t a good idea. Remember, you’re chaging a business here. It’s good to smart small – whether that’s one department at a time, one account at a time, one customer – however you decide to attack it – do it incrementally so that you have the opportunity to achieve the fastest results and achieve the best benefits possible.
Finding the right hardware & software – The most important thing to remember about hardware and software is that both are tools designed to accomplish specific tasks. They are not magical solutions that end all of your problems. Whenever you decide to purchase these resources or whatever you decide to do with them, remember that you’ll need to define and hash out a process as to how they’re going to be deployed and utilized.
Figuring out what to do with all your paper – As you know all to well, those file folders didn’t become full of paper overnight. As such, you should also understand that converting all those documents to digital format won’t happen overnight, either. Most customers are surprised at how long it can take to get all of their old documents scanned and filed into their computer network. Make sure you have a defined process as to when, how and how much you’ll need to access back-filed information and make sure it fits within your current business process.
Be patient – This is the hardest of the six tips to stick to. The typical document management process takes anywhere from six months to a year to complete. It’ll take some time and create a few headaches along the way but it’s important to remember – it’ll all be worth it in the end. Be patient and you’ll reap the rewards.