Offices wouldn’t be offices without wall to wall folders filled with reem after ream of papers and paper based files. Or would they? The new movement of companies transitioning from physical documents to electronic document management systems is steadily growing and is something that all business owners should at least educate themselves on to see if it’s a possibilty for them.
Many businesses are now realising that the use of paper is expensive, is an inefficient way to manage and store information and is bad for our environment. Therefore going paperless is becoming more and more appealing to business owners as the advantages are becoming more obvious. This is not a process that happens quickly however. It is a slow and steady business transition and must be explored carefully and in a detailed and strategic manner. Here are top tips on how your company can go about approaching this transition.
Take the Initiative and Lead the Way
As many staff will likely be nervous and sceptical about the transition into a paperless office you will need to lead the way and take the initiative where necessary to confidently lead your team into this period of change. Planning the steps for going paperless means your company needs you to step up and confidently lead the way to a more productive and efficient business.
You should be setting clear goals and objectives for your team that motivates them and convinces them of the benefit of an electronic document management system. You could even organise a reward scheme for staff that are adapting particularly quickly and for when those set goals begin to be met.
In a nutshell, as the business owner you need to lead by example. Set goals not just for your team, but also for yourself and make sure your employees see how you are transitioning, as a positive example to the rest of the company. If your staff see you taking action in a positive and confident way they are much more likely to follow suit.
That Leads us to Your Staff
That brings us to the topic of getting your staff onboard. This is the single most important thing for your company to effectively start working as a paperless company. You can be as motivated and excited as you want about this transition to electronic document management, but if your team aren’t sold on the idea, it is never going to actually take off.
Statistically, the most difficult teams to get on board tend to be the finance and legal departments in a business so these areas of your business may need special attention. Focusing on the benefits this change will bring to your team is where to start when convincing them that this is a positive change for the company. By talking them through how this change is going to make their jobs easier will allow them to start understanding how this will save them time and effort so they will then be much more likely to start showing interest in this new strategy.
It’s also important to point out to your team how this is going to positively affect your customers. It’s natural for staff to be concerned about how this change will negatively impact their customers however once they begin to understand the positive aspects this change will bring about they will be much more likely to start getting involved in the transition. Explain that nowadays the majority of clients prefer electronic documents and correspondence to the more traditional paper based correspondence as they are much quicker. They are also more secure and are much easier to handle. So talking your staff through the benefits this brings to your clients will also help them to feel much more confident about this change.
Electronic Management Software Programmes
Making your process more streamlined can help make your company’s paperless future a reality. Looking at the best software programmes that will be able to integrate all your files and documents in one area is crucial for your paperless success. Programmes where all your documents are scanned and then processed by OCR (optical character recognition) and then ran through a quality assurance process.
A 3 way match process, involving the above streamlining, combined with the elimination of manual tasks and a single stream invoice process could be just what your company needs in order to function more effectively and to finally turn its back on paper. Buying into Saas software that eliminates the manual tasks associated with paper files will free up your staff to focus on a larger variety of tasks.
Taking out the need for manually inputting information onto traditional paper based files and documents means that your staff can focus on more productive areas such as improving communication with clients and suppliers, creating reports and analytics, negotiating more interesting contracts and strengthening the overall running of their department.
The single stream invoice process that is associated with Saas programmes means that accounting staff no longer need to manually key in the information and figures that traditionally demanded most of your accountant’s time with old paper based accountancy. Going paperless in this area and using single stream invoice processing can speed up the monthly invoicing process by around 80%, which will be of huge benefit to your accounts team and to you as the business owner.
Now that you’ve looked into the different software available and you’ve got your team thinking more practically and positively about this change, it’s time to start really rolling those sleeves up and putting in the hard work. Firstly you are going to have to scan all your existing documentation. If your company has been around for a while this is going to take some time. So you must go through all your filing systems and get them all organised. There is a chance that some aren’t relevant and can be thrown away but be careful when discarding any files as you never know what will be necessary in the future and once you’ve thrown something away it can never be retrieved so be very detailed about this process.
Divide the workload across your team so everyone can get stuck in and tackle the big task of getting everything organised. Getting it all stacked and ready to be entered into your new electronic management system is the the first step in preparing your office for a paperless future. From there it is a constant learning curve, but one, which if done right, can be an extremely rewarding experience for you and your team and an effective way to have your team working more efficiently and productively than ever before.