Setting up a paperless office: What you need to know

Paperless offices are rapidly becoming the norm, and while the benefits far outweigh the negatives, the transition period can be an intricate and lengthy process if not planned properly. With over 20 years of collective experience in the Data Capture and Document Management industry, we’ve learnt some valuable lessons about planning a paperless office. Here are some of the questions you should be asking:

  • How much of your paper do you want to convert? How far back do you want to go in converting paper files?
  • How will you handle the paper that still comes in from vendors, partners or customers? Or, that you can’t convert, like legal or tax-related documents?
  • How expensive is new equipment or software, or both, and how does that fit your budget?
  • What’s your proposed process for going paperless and your time frame?
  • How will you inform staff and get them to buy into the process so they accept the changes you want and don’t slide back into heavy paper use?
  • How much help do you need from outside? (This could be a consultant to manage the conversion process, a vendor for new equipment and software, a firm to do actual data conversion, a hosting service to move electronic files off site, security experts or employee trainers.)

 

While many of these may seem obvious, it’s also important to look at taking these basic steps during  the transition process.

  • Commit to going to a paperless office,  convince staff to go along with it by explaining the advantages for each of them individually, and as a group, involve them in the process.
  • Check your existing computer hardware to make sure it’s robust enough to handle added applications and file storage. Make sure you have a reliable backup system for all the files you will be adding.
  • Analyse what you need and plan to accomplish. Think about what you’re likely to need in the future with a growing business, as well as now. Think about which documents need to be accessed often or quickly, which need extra security, and which could be removed after a certain time.
  • Develop a transition plan and a timetable.
  • Start small with just a single department or area of our business so you can address any problems before broadening your scope.
  • Do a small test project; make any needed changes; and then move to the transition in your first department.
  • Develop a plan for ongoing company-wide use. Include a document storage plan for employees with specific guidelines.
  • Gradually take your paperless transition through the company.

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