Think for a moment about how much paper your business generates in a month, a week, or even a day. You and your employees probably have documents upon documents everywhere. This was once business as usual, but it no longer has to be. Many businesses are making the shift to paperless or at least cutting back on how much paper they use, and you can, too.
Recognize the Benefits
Your first step in the shift to paperless is to make a firm commitment to it, and to do this, you'll need to recognize the benefits of the shift. For one thing, you can actually save money on paper, ink, and postage. Also, you may be able to tighten up security on your documents as you convert them to digital format, and you can certainly save space as you eliminate at least some of your massive filing cabinets.
Moreover, shifting to paperless will help the environment because your business will have less waste. Your company will have a bit of a bragging point, too, and you'll be able to offer your customers, especially those who do almost everything digitally, increased convenience. Finally, you'll likely just feel good about the effort you're making toward this important change.
Convert Your Existing Documents
As you shift to paperless, you'll need to put in the effort to convert many, if not most, of your existing documents into digital format. Ask for some employees to volunteer for the project, and write up a series of guidelines to help them decide what must be kept and converted and what can be discarded. Be sure to follow standard regulations about the number of years you must keep documents for tax purposes.
You might also combine PDFs into one file so that your employees can easily combine related documents into a single file to save space and stay organized. The tool will even let you move PDF pages around to put documents in the correct order.
Implement a Document Management System
As you scan old documents and generate new ones, you'll have to invest in a document management system. Do some research to learn about the kinds of systems available and their primary features. Then you can decide what you need and how much you can afford. Pay close attention to factors like security, ease of organization, searching, accessibility, and customer service.
Educate Employees and Customers
The shift to paperless might generate a bit of backlash from your employees and customers, so you're going to have to educate them. Call your employees together for a meeting, and explain all the benefits of the shift. Write up procedures for everyone to read so no one feels lost about what will happen and when. You can also send out notices to your customers about the shift, assuring them that their information will be more secure than ever. Always give your customers the option of switching to paperless, as some of them will not feel comfortable.
Cut Back on That Paper
Shifting to paperless may not be easy, but it can be well worth the effort to cut back on that paper.
Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce for more ideas.