Organizations that want to go paperless should know that the change isn’t particularly difficult.
With some planning ahead of time, a little training and the assistance of a good service provider, businesses can easily change their methods of operation to include automated document sorting and business process management. With the feasibility of making the change in mind, here’s some advice for companies to supercharge their paperless efforts, in both the short and long term:
1. Explicitly define a process and standards for converting documents
One of the major perceived difficulties for organizations converting to digital operations is the initial scanning and storage of documents. Because some companies have large amounts of paper stored – because of regulatory and business needs or poor file management practices – the idea of having to go through the process of converting documents to digital formats can seem like a big problem. It becomes simple, however, when a plan is in place. Companies should make hard rules about what is kept and what isn’t and dedicate some time over a period of days or weeks to sort through their files.
2. Store everything digitally
Some organizations may be limiting their paperless efficiency by not adding everything they can to digital storage, according to productivity blog IQTell. Digital practices can easily expand to include shared reference material, collaborative notes and instructional items, not just important documents or invoices and bills. Whether looking for something official or unofficial, internal or external, employees should be able to quickly locate information from a computer terminal.
3. Electronic signatures are legally recognized for most applications
Although public opinion is changing to view a secure, verified electronic signature as no different than a physical one, some businesses are still apprehensive about their use. However, TechLeaders points out that the ESIGN Act has allowed digital signatures in a wide variety of official uses since the early 2000s. Businesses may have to point this out to some vendors and partners, but knowing that electronic signatures are legal and acceptable can reduce both printing costs and time wasted waiting for contracts to mail.
4. Train employees
Making sure that staff are comfortable with the new processes can ensure that paperless practices are effective when first implemented and continuing forward. Although the new methods aren’t difficult, they can be jarring to longtime workers not used to change. Some time spent educating and answering questions can go a long way to making a digital office a success.