Keys to Achieving a Paper Less Office™
In my last post I talked about the paperless office vs. the Paper Less Office™ and reasons your business should consider moving to a paper free environment. Today, I will offer tips and recommended steps to consider towards moving in that direction.
First Step – Embrace Document Management, Digital Scanning, Indexing and Storage
The most widely used, but still far from prevalent solution is what we call Document Management (DM). In this application documents are scanned and key search criteria values are captured and indexed in a database system. The paper version of the document can be thrown away or destroyed and the digital version that is stored on your server or in the cloud is easily locatable with electronic search tools. Many small businesses have saved tens of thousands of dollars with document management.
One of the downfalls of these systems is the lack of integration with your other business applications like ERP (accounting/distribution) or CRM (customer relationship management) and that they often don’t provide universal access of stored records to all relevant users.
Fortunately there are new technologies like Microsoft SharePoint 2013 that provide a platform where enterprise wide fully integrated document management systems can be built. This is what we call ECM, Enterprise Content Management or EDM, Enterprise Document Management.
To Really Solve the Problem, Cut It Off at the Source
Even with all the benefits that a good document system can provide, you are still dealing with paper. So why not cut it off at the source? Electronic Forms are the fastest and most productive means to eliminate paper workflows and the high cost they incur.
Like Customer/Client Documents
New client intake documents, credit, lease, loan or insurance applications, event registrations, on-line order forms, rebate forms, technical support, repair or return requests, are a few of the potential ways to cut off paper at the start. By providing these forms on web sites, in store kiosks or even smart phones and tablets, you can revolutionize your business. This especially applies if you are pursuing business in the huge 95 million person market of the Millennial/Gen Y generation.
Imagine the look on your customer’s face when they are handed a tablet with an easy to use electronic form instead of badly copied paper form and pen. Imagine the savings you will realize when that data is instantly transmitted into your system with an electronically signed digital version of the form stored on your local server or in the Cloud.
And Human Resource Documents
You already see employment application kiosks in practically every major retail store. This is an idea that just makes so much sense. Smart businesses are making all their HR and related employee documents electronic which have so many benefits.
Next time you see a paper employee document, an application form, new employee intake, performance review, benefits application, etc., think this: I could have done this digitally, even if it as simple as an editable PDF form on a PC, webpage, or table.
Getting away from paper can be accomplished with Adobe Professional or any number of electronic form making tools.
So, Stay With Me
If you are still doubting all this; thinking it is does not apply to your business, consider this: Microsoft sells SharePoint, the premier document management, electronic forms and workflow platform. Last year Microsoft sold over $1 Billion, yes that is Billion with a B, in SharePoint licenses, and that does not include the FREE SharePoint Foundation Edition which does everything most businesses need. The actual number of users and installations? Hard to say exactly but I assure you it is in the millions.
Do you use SharePoint? Why not?
In our next article we will be talking about Vendor and Expense Documents as well as employee collaboration solutions.