To put it in perspective, imagine a 12-foot high wall that stretches from New York to San Francisco made entirely of paper…That’s how much paper is thrown away in business offices each year. When you look at it like that, it makes the paperless effort seem even more important, right? But, as a small business the task of going paperless as well as some of the costs associated with the initial undertaking can seem daunting. To make the process easier and successfully make the transition to a paperless office even as a small business, follow these steps.
1. Assess Your Needs
Obviously, the first step in the process involves deciding if your office is able to go paperless altogether or with specific limitations. Some businesses are responsible for maintaining certain records, so consider what you can do with previous paper records to maintain such documentation.
You also need to consider any addition obstacles your office may face – resistance from employees, monetary challenges, etc. Involving your employees in the process is one way to overcome worker resistance, and AFN can help you secure the funding needed to purchase the appropriate equipment to transition your business to paperless.
2. Set a Date
Like any goal, your goal of going paperless in your business will be easier to attain if you set a firm goal date for when you will cease using paper records. Allow your business plenty of time to adapt, but don’t let the transition process lag on forever. Aim to be paperless approximately 6 to 9 months after you’ve begun the transition process. Once you’ve set the date, stick to it.
3. Create Your Transition Plan
Once you’ve set a date, you’ll need to break down the steps in the process. Create a transition plan with appropriate date guidelines to help you achieve paperless status. Consider what you’ll need to do to make the transition, including purchasing new equipment, potentially hiring an outside document imaging company, etc.
4. Hire an Outside Firm and Purchase Your Equipment
In the initial phase of going paperless, you’ll need some added help to create digital documents as well as scan and store previous files. Hire a document imaging firm to help you through this step in the process and to reduce stress on you and your employees.
In addition to hiring outside help, you’ll also need to begin purchasing the appropriate equipment for the process. The first item you’ll need is a document imaging system that will be used to scan records, create databases, and train your staff.
5. Change Your Invoices First
Because accounting and legal concerns are the most sensitive considerations in such an undertaking, you need to secure your invoices first. Again, you can seek outside firm, such as Freshbooks, to help you with this transition.
6. Store Important Documents
You don’t need to scan everything, so consider what documents are essential for scanning and have your document imaging firm help. Store any papers that must be maintained but don’t need to be duplicated and proceed with the paperless transition.
7. Start Small
As you make the transition, don’t overhaul the whole company at the same time. Start with one department at a time, work out any kinks, and then continue the process. During this part of the transition, be sure to rely on and transition first with your already digitally savvy employees. Training these individuals first will provide you with more support individuals as you make the transition.
Reducing paper and waster in your office is a key way to help support the environment, but it can also save you money and make your company more attractive in the long run. Obviously the transition process can be somewhat costly upfront, so you may need additional funding as a small business. At Advanced Funds Network, we provide business loans to businesses of all sizes and can help you make the transition to paperless in no time.