In recent years, organizations ranging from health insurance firms to technology outfits have turned to paperless correspondence—paperless billing, paperless contracts, paperless receipts, and so on. A company where the use of paper is entirely eliminated or almost absent can be more elusive, but there are many advantages if you can accomplish it, and these advantages extend far beyond simply the admirable desire to operate a greener business. Paperless companies are ultimately more efficient and more scalable.
The Benefits of Running a Paperless Business
Why should your company take this route? During Varsity Tutors’ shift to the digitalized world, I have found the following key advantages:
- Less time devoted to non-essential tasks.Think about this: 123 years of National Geographic magazine with high resolution photos, or over 1,400 issues, can be stored on just one flash drive. Paperless filing can easily reduce long-term storage costs for your company, as well as allow you to access information near instantaneously. Rather than spending time hunting for a piece of paper in a filing cabinet, you can pull up a document in a digital database within moments. This efficiency means you can focus your manpower on other projects that are critical to the growth of your business.
- Higher security for your documents.Digitalized companies can easily back up crucial information. If your brick-and-mortar office faced a fire or flood, your hard-copy paperwork would likely be destroyed. In contrast, digital documents can be protected remotely via the cloud or an off-site hard drive.
- Increased business velocity.Maximizing your organization’s velocity is a must if you hope to expand your business in this hyper-connected era. Simply, if you delay a transaction, you delay revenue – in certain instances, you may even lose a sale. Paperless processes can help prevent this issue by helping you provide a better, faster, and less expensive or higher margin service. Your clients will appreciate the efficiency of your operation and will reward you with more business.
Key Considerations for the Paperless Transition
The transition to a paperless work environment can be both simple and smooth with some advanced planning. Here are three notes to keep in mind:
- Transitioning involves initial software, storage, and conversion costs.Paperless companies require more digital storage than traditional businesses, which comes at modest extra expense. Cloud storage—like Dropbox, for example—can carry a subscription fee. There is also the cost of converting existing paperwork. This may involve scanning important items or utilizing document creation software to develop digital counterparts for contracts, terms of service, time sheets, etc. If you intend to scan paperwork, consider optical character recognition (OCR) software, which turns hard-copy documents into computer-searchable text. One of the best decisions my business made during this transition was to scan all historical documents so that we had both go-forward documents as well as historical ones in digital form. DocuSign, Sertify, and RightSignature all offer a powerful set of tools for companies that regularly need to collect signed documents. By using these platforms, you can easily upload a document and send it to a second party who can then sign it electronically within seconds.
- Team member training should be a critical component of your transition.Members of your organization are familiar with the process of reading a physical document, but software platforms involve interfaces that may be new to some of your staff. Ensure your entire team is comfortable with a program’s layout and functionality early in its implementation. Consider full API integration into your website when possible to ensure that document search and organization is built into your team’s normal workflow and system views.
- You must still be diligent about document security.Decide what information you will store locally and what information you are comfortable placing in the cloud. The latter may be easily accessible at any time of day, but it may also be more vulnerable to security breaches than offline storage. Just as you would safeguard important paper files, go extra lengths to protect your company’s digital information.
Paperless practices can increase your company’s efficiency and streamline your internal processes. With careful forethought, a paperless business is an attainable reality, not just a novel idea.