Your Path to Paperless Checklist

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Editor’s Note: This is the third in a six-part series from Insightful Accountant on why, what and how today’s companies are approaching going paperless. Sponsored by Canon imageFormula scanners, the series takes a deep dive into what a path to paperless strategy means, the various solutions available and a guide to help you get there. Part one can be found here. Part two can be found here.

You are still on the fence. We get it. When the decision to go paperless or not to go paperless comes up (and it happens frequently), there are so many items that fall on either side of that “should I” or “shouldn’t I” checklist. For example, the time and money it would save to file and secure documents digitally versus the time it would take to train everyone on how to make that happen.

Here is some data that might make the decision a little clearer. According to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the average company spends around $20 in labor to file a paper document. And if that document gets misplaced, an organization would shell out some $120 in labor to look for it and/or about $220 in labor to recreate the missing document. If you are keeping score at your desk, on average, 7.5% of paper documents are lost completely—and of the remaining files, 3% are misfiled.

While the pros and cons are endless, the edict is becoming clearer: Creating a paperless office is just good business sense. “We still have companies that are stuck in the way that they always have done things.” says Lindsay Conderman Pinkos, Product Marketing Manager for AbacusNext/Office Tools. “And the project of transitioning to paperless can be daunting.”

Sara Cavender, account manager for GruntWorx, says that once you turn your paperless office action plan into a digital playbook, the opportunities are endless. “Having a digital file of all documents on your computer database is essential. It is important because you have immediate access and control of all documents from anywhere you can access your computer database.”

To help you get moving into the right direction, we asked our paperless office thought leaders to share their checklists with you. Following is a compilation of their blueprint for success:

Assemble a paperless workplace task force

Members of firm from various departments and roles. Having champions will help in the adoption process. You will also need to have member weigh in on the various ways that people in various roles will use documents.

Identify the ideal paperless workflow scenario

If you come up with the ideal plan and then reverse engineer the process, you will always be working with the ideal scenario in mind and you will be able to find technology solutions that will help in building your perfect workflow process.

Set a timeline for execution

There is never a perfect time to start so set a time line and stick to it. Set milestones in the process and points to evaluate the progress.

Vet technology solutions

You will need scanning, document storage and a practice management system to move the work through the firm. Identifying and vetting technology solutions will be an integral part of making the transition to paperless successful.

Invest in the right hardware

Seek out a system that allows for quick and easy document capture, and document management software. For many offices, the best hardware option will typically be a scanner, but could easily be a mobile device utilizing a mobile application that allows for mobile capture and storage of document images. All employees who work outside of the office should be equipped with a mobile application that allows for documents to be captured on the go and automatically stored in your company’s document management and/or expense management solutions.

Invest in mobility

All systems a business uses must be accessible via mobile. If employees do not have a smartphone, buy them a company phone and force utilization.

Eliminate roadblocks

As you implement your new tools and workflows, be prepared to meet some resistance from internal and external sources. The key to overcoming this resistance is to be able to show the stakeholders of this new strategy what is in it for them. Internally, allocate the proper time and resources to get everyone trained on using their new tools. Externally, sometimes clients can be more of a challenge when changing systems. The key is to show them the time and cost efficiencies the path paperless provides. On both fronts, education is the important to building sustainability, especially when the new way of doing business will help give a more timely and accurate process for maintaining their business.

Do a beta test

Have the taskforce identify various members of the firm that could do a beta test of the workflow and technology that you have identified to test the workflow. Gather feedback and make adjustments to the process.

Appoint a champion

Find someone within the organization who will see the transition to the paperless environment through. Having a steward committed to the process will help ensure everyone in the organization and outside stays on board.

“Surprisingly, a major cause of hesitation is simply a lack of management initiative or mandate,” says Darcey Wilde, Director of Marketing for eFileCabinet. “Businesses are ready and willing to go paperless but don’t have anyone to lead the charge. They feel directionless and overwhelmed by the number of options and required training.”

Next: Part 4 — Creating Your Paperless Office Toolkit

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