Paper accumulates. Too much paper can reduce efficiency and cost you money.
Life is better without paper
Apart from saving the trees and not getting anymore paper cuts there are many benefits to not using paper.
Paper is everywhere. We hardly think about it, but businesses spend a lot of time and money moving paperwork around. Analysts have been predicting the arrival of the paperless office for more than two decades, yet more paper is produced every year.
It doesn't have to be this way. In almost all areas of business, it's now possible to get rid of paper entirely. Digital documents are simpler, easier to store and send, more searchable and more versatile than paper.
But many businesses have a long way to go before they become paperless. In this guide we'll look at the benefits of digital documents, and how you can reduce your paperwork to help you run your business more efficiently.
Why do we still use paper
Before we look at the benefits of going paperless, it's worth understanding why paper is still so common. Here are some of the reasons why businesses still use paper:
If the government tells you that you must keep paper records, you don't have much choice. But it doesn't happen often these days. Most government departments understand that digital documents are just as good.
If you're applying for a loan or selling your business, signed paperwork is often a necessity. But lawyers are increasingly going paperless, so this practice is dying out.
Some paper documents have been around for centuries and can still be read today. By contrast, some computer records from 20 years ago can't be accessed at all. So for a long life, paper can still seem like a good choice. But digital storage methods are stabilising and improving. Formats like PDF and JPEG will outlast many of the businesses that use them.
People like the way paper feels (psychologists call this 'haptic perception') and the fact that it's a real, physical item. Sometimes information inside a computer or the cloud doesn't seem so real. But this is changing as people grow up with computers being part of their lives.
Paper is cheap and easy to distribute. However, that's only part of the story. Once you start paying for printers, toner, servicing, maintenance, connectivity, cabling, user support and all the other associated costs, paper starts to look more expensive. And that's before you consider the cost of document storage.
So at least some of the reasons why we still use paper are historical and personal – not logical.
Benefits of a paperless office
Going paperless is more beneficial than it might first appear. Here's what can happen when a business starts to cut back on paper.
Paperwork on desks and shelves is not only untidy, it's inefficient too. Organisation of digital files is simpler, and your office will look much neater. That will help you clear your mind and focus on your business.
Your digital documents can be stored, retrieved, indexed and searched much faster than paper ones.
An entire company's documents could be stored on a single laptop instead of rooms of shelving. If there's a fire or flood, recovery from a backup is much easier with digital storage than with paper.
You will save money on printing, postage and associated costs. You could even pay less rent – because you won't need all that space for your files.
Moving from an old office to a new one is much easier if you don't have to carry several filing cabinets with you.
Less printing means fewer trees cut down for pulp, and less energy used to make and transport paper.
Paper mail takes a day to arrive – if you're lucky. Emailed documents arrive within seconds. At a time when businesses need to move swiftly, getting rid of paper can give you a helpful burst of speed.
How to get there? 10 Steps to a paperless office.
Going paperless doesn't happen overnight, so you should plan your strategy for reducing paper use. Here are some steps to consider.
The more areas of business you can move to the cloud, including accounts and payroll, the less you'll have to worry about technical support and file format issues.
Let's make this journey easier
Depending on how comfortable you are with technology, it may be difficult to change to a paperless office. Here are a few tips to make the journey easier:
Use encryption to keep your documents safe from prying eyes.
Electronic documents are easier to store than paper – and easier to delete. Make sure you have backups online, using services such as backblaze.com or carbonite.com, and also offline. USB memory sticks, external hard drives, CDs and DVDs can all be used for offline storage.
Electronic documents are more useful if they are fully indexed, so you can easily search and find what you're looking for. When scanning documents, make sure they are searchable by using OCR (optical character recognition) software. Scanning service companies can do this for you.
Going paperless is a goal, but it might be difficult or even impossible to eliminate all paper. If you're involved in real estate transactions, for example, there will still be a lot of paperwork involved.
Do whatever you can to reduce paper use. For example, if you have to print a document, use both sides of the sheet of paper. And if you print out a PowerPoint presentation, include two or four slides to a page. Even these small steps can make a big difference.
Source: Original Post on Xero
We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!