We know the tree huggers out there will love this article, especially as it’s digital and will not be printed on paper. Going paperless starts with a decision to make the change – the actual process of making it happen requires a planned and staged approach, i.e. it’s not going to be an overnight undertaking. Unless of course you are a solopreneur, in which case, easy as pie.
There are still many people who prefer holding paper in their hands, which means the speed of implementation will be impacted by the preferences of your employees. People are generally resistant to change, so it may take some time and effort to get everyone on board.
Why go paperless?
Aside from benefitting the environment, there is potential for significant cost savings in your business. It’s not only the cost of the paper itself, but also the ink/toner, the cost to distribute the paper, the staff to manage it, and the cost to store it.
You have the opportunity to reduce paper usage within your business as well as paper that is coming into your business. This means going paperless will also benefit the businesses you work with.
Benefits of going paperless:
- Feel good about doing your part to save trees.
- Save on all associated costs.
- Access documents quicker if they are stored digitally.
- Easily share documents with anyone, anywhere in the world (with internet access).
- Tidier workspaces and reduced clutter with less documents and files.
- Reduce the storage space required (and the corresponding cost).
- Keep documents more secure.
How to go paperless
Evaluate your business and identify the processes that use the most paper. Address one process at a time to work out how to reduce paper usage. Some of the areas that have potential to be digitised include accounting, expense tracking, attendance tracking and signing documents.
There are many ways to move towards a paperless environment. We detail the most common ones, but there may be some innovative solutions unique to your particular business setup. Be creative and encourage your staff to get involved, e.g. ask for ideas to reduce paper usage, reward them when goals are reached, appoint willing volunteers to champion the cause.
- Use printers that have the functionality to print double-sided.
- Allocate print credits to your employees to limit the quantity of pages printed (if you are using a printer that has this functionality).
- Sort documents to be discarded into confidential (to be shredded) and non-confidential (to be reused for internal printing if blank on the back).
- Place recycling bins in strategic locations, e.g. next to printers and filing cabinets.
- Scan physical documents so that they can be discarded (unless required to be kept for statutory reasons). There are many document management systems that can be used to handle this process. A cloud-based solution will provide added security in that your documents will be backed up for access from anywhere in the world with internet access.
- Request electronic versions via email of any documents that get posted or delivered to you, e.g. invoices, statements, purchase orders, catalogues, contracts (if electronic signatures are acceptable), etc.
- Set up electronic signatures so documents don’t need to be printed out for signing. This will also reduce response time as there is no need to print, sign, scan and send back to complete the process.
- Use online forms when gathering information from customers.
- Present onscreen rather than printing out reports and presentations for meetings. Digital versions can be distributed post-meeting.
- Take notes and minutes on your electronic device. Not only does this save paper, it also saves time as you don’t need to type notes up after meetings. You can record audio of meetings as a backup in case you miss something. This may take time to get used to if your typing is not fast enough to keep up with the proceedings.
It’s unlikely you will be able to go 100% paperless, as some documents need to be kept for statutory reasons. The goal is to reduce paper usage as far as you possibly can and to dispose of documents you no longer need as soon as possible.
In working with so many documents and client information, there is always the risk of being hacked. We can customise a business insurance pack including cyber protection to provide cover should you experience a data security breach. Get in touch with us to discuss the benefits available with this insurance cover.
Important Note: All insurance policies have exclusions. Please refer to the Product Disclosure Statement or Policy Wording to decide whether an insurance policy meets your needs.