5 steps you need to take to go paperless
1. Take stock of your files
Basically, you need to determine the scope of your current paper-based filing system, and then work out which documents you need to convert to a digital format, and which documents (if any) you can dispose of immediately.
2. Scan important files
It’s time: you have to scan in all your important documents. It’s going to take some time, but there are a few different ways you can do this. To begin with, you could work out a scanning roster in your office, or ask your colleagues to take on a certain amount of documents that are their sole responsibility for scanning. You could even make a game of it and award points to whoever scans in the most documents in the lease amount of time!
Maybe you have one of those handy printers with the scanners that you can just feed multiple documents in to and end up with one big file of scanned pages.
Still sound too tedious? Well, you can always use one of those scanning services that will do it all for you.
3. Make the decision: Store or destroy
Once you’ve figured out which documents are important enough to scan in and keep, your next move is to decide whether you’re going to keep your paper copies stored away as a ‘just-in-case’ tactic, or shred them.
This decision will be influenced largely on what motives you may have had in going paperless in the first place – are you doing it to make more space in your office? Are you trying to be a more environmentally friendly company to reduce your environmental footprint? Or are you simply wanting to make digital copies of your files in order to have an easier, more accessible filing system? Whichever motive you had, it will ultimately lead to a different decision as to what you do with your paper files now they have been scanned in.
Be warned: some legal documents, such as contracts or financial records, are required to be kept in hard copy format to meet compliance. Make sure you know which documents are safe to shred, and which ones you really ought to just store away.
4. Find systems for file sharing other than printing
If your office regularly shared documents in paper form, you’re going to need to find a new system now that you’ve decided to go paperless. After all, the main goal is to produce the least amount of paper in your office as possible. Which means you’ll need to find a new way of file sharing that is wholly digital.
There are a number of ways you can sharing documents with colleagues and clients without printing, you just have to find out what works best for your business.
For some ideas on some great file sharing applications, view our blog on file sharing here.
5. Make a schedule for future scanning – don’t let your new paper build up!
We’d all like to think that once the process of scanning all your current documents is done, that you’ll be well and truly set for a paperless office from hereon in. But that’s just not true.
There will always be more paper. There will be times you have to have something printed, times when you take notes which you need to keep on file, and times when your clients or customers will provide you with paper work that needs to be kept track of.
This is why it’s important to set up a weekly schedule for scanning any and all important documents that come your way by the paper trail. To make this schedule and stay on top of it means you’ll be making the most of your commitment to going paperless and it will assist you in maintaining that commitment well in to the future.