In 2009, a Xerox study showed that American businesses spend $460 billion in salaries just to manage paper-driven information overload. That's right, billions, and for every dollar spent on printing documents, companies incur another $6 in handling and distributing that paper. The study suggests that paper is one of the leading causes of overwhelm or information overload in corporations. That's a lot of money spent on paper, that's making employees more overwhelmed than anything.
The digital transformation era has made remote work and paperless initiatives more convenient and accessible to a wide variety of industries. Surely there's a better way to manage the nearly 10,000 sheets of copy paper the average office worker uses every year: going paperless.
Going paperless can seem daunting because you'll have to figure out what to do with everything from postal mail to receipits. However, it's not impossible and, more importantly, it's worth it. Going paperless can reduce information overload but also provide other environmental benefits. Following these steps can help you down your path to becoming a paperless company.
Step 1: Be a Leader
One of the reasons some companies don't go paperless is because there's no one on the team pushing for a change. Essentially, many businesses are ready and willing to go paperless, but nobody is leading the way or providing the tools needed to start. Any individual can step up and lead the way to become a more efficient office.
Approached the right way, your team will be grateful for the environmental benefits and the overall working experience! No matter what level you're at, you can set goals for your company as a whole that encourages an easy transition to an electronic document management system.
As a business leader, the important part about going paperless is that you lead by example. If you have your own filing cabinet overflowing with documents, consider uploading them to cloud-based software. Set goals for yourself and take ownership of those goals. If your employees see you leading the way, they will be more likely to follow suit, and you will drive home the importance of what going paperless really means.
Step 2: Normalize Going Paperless into your Company's Culture
No matter how strong the paperless initiative may seem, your company won't complete the transition unless employees are on board. Show them the ways going paperless could benefit them. Demonstrate the time and energy they'll save in a paperless office. Specifically, they'll be able to view, read, and share documents and files from their computer without printing more paper. They just have to see that going paperless will make their jobs easier.
Step 3: Organize Paper Files and Documents
Now that key leaders are taking the initiative, and you have strong backing from your employees, the tougher side of going paperless begins — organization. Getting organized is a key component of your plan to going paperless. If your team cannot organize digital files, you might find yourself inheriting a paper system's stress.
Create a unified organization system for your documents by name, year, department, etc.
Divide the heavy lifting between employees or departments and divvy up documents into categories for the organization.
Determine an expiration date for all documents; anything older than the decided date (think: auditing) can be found and shredded. This will help weed out unneeded space in cloud storage and help keep you more up-to-date in the process.
Set a goal for when each employee or department should have their files organized and ready to enter your chosen document management software.
Follow up until your goal is met. Once paper documents are organized, you can prepare to take your business to paperless!
Step 4: Choose the Necessary Document Management Software
With a newly organized system of documents, you're going to need to find the right digital document management system. The choices for finding the right system for you and your company are endless, so you need to research and compare your options before making a decision. Determine the needs of your company and your monthly budget.
To aid in your search for the best option, we recommend sitting down and making a list of your business's functionality needs the most out of a document management system. These typically include data backup, amount of storage, number of users allowed on the account, audit logs, and automation.
After selecting your software provider, set up training to allow for a streamlined understanding of the software cross-departmentally. The important thing is that all employees who handle, file, and need access to information in the cloud will be able to do so digitally and confidently. With all that under your belt, you can finally begin the transition from paper-driven to paperless!
Step 5: Reap the Benefits
Once you finish the steps for going paperless, much less effort will be needed to stay paperless. Printing, labeling, and filing will be a thing of the past!
As you begin digitizing your files, you'll start to see the number of benefits in the office. Your employees, customers, and business as a whole will benefit from making the switch to becoming a paperless company. Your company will notice the time and energy spent doing the cumbersome tasks of filing and searching manually will be shifted into being more productive as a whole.
By following the steps outlined above, you can manage your company's paper problems and feel good about becoming a more efficient, paperless office!