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How to go paperless: 8 Ways to go paperless in your business

The future of business is increasingly paperless. Here, we detail eight actions you can take to reduce the amount of paper your organisation uses, along with helpful advice on how to handle the transition.

What are the benefits of going paperless?

Moving to a paperless business can:

  1. reduce waste and operating costs
  2. reduce your business’ carbon footprint
  3. remove clutter and improve the working environment
  4. improve the efficiency of internal processes
  5. improve access to documentation and business information by making it digital rather than paper based
  6. enhance information security through limiting vulnerability to physical document losses.

Going paperless with hybrid working

With more businesses than ever adopting distance and hybrid working practices, remote access of digital documentation has never been more important.

Switching from paper to digital means employees working outside the office can access and collaborate on documents just as easily as if they were on-site. Moving to a paperless business is a key element in unlocking the potential of hybrid working.

What are the downsides of going paperless?

Moving to a paperless operation can introduce new challenges, including:

  1. increased upfront costs to acquire new digital document software and hardware like tablets and scanning equipment
  2. increased data storage costs
  3. new IT expertise will be required within the organisation
  4. employees will need to be trained to use new systems and procedures
  5. data stored online can be subject to data breaches and will require new security measures to be introduced.

How to go paperless at work

Follow these eight suggestions to transition your business to a paperless operation:

1. Use digital document management

Switch from paper documents to digital ones with a digital document management system. Replace paper forms with electronic versions and scan and upload paper documents.

As well as reducing paper, digital document management systems allow more efficient accessing, management, tracking and sharing of documents than physical records.

2. Use cloud-based document storage

In addition to adopting a digital document system, transition to storing electronic documents on cloud-based services rather than using paper archives.

Online storage saves on paper, but cloud storage and cloud applications also allow employees to access and work on documents wherever they’re based. Plus, automated processes can be set up with cloud services that grant different users access to different document types, enhancing efficiency and security.

3. Move to digital billing

Physical invoicing can generate a considerable amount of paper. Switching to electronic billing can eliminate this source of waste, plus it can get your bills into the hands of customers faster, potentially resulting in quicker payments and a more financially efficient business. Consider digitising other sources of paper in accounting too, such as purchase orders, supplier invoices and goods received notes.

4. Implement a managed print service

Far from all printing is essential. While switching to digital documentation can help reduce the amount of paper a business uses, a managed print service can help employees determine whether their printing is necessary.

5. Take notes digitally

The humble notebook is one of the most important tools in business. It allows employees to take notes in meetings, jot down important details and to carry to-do lists around with them.

However, a range of digital applications let employees quickly take notes on devices like laptops, tablets and phones. As well as being paperless, these apps offer a range of efficiencies – allowing notes to be organised and accessed easily – and can be shared across an employee’s devices.

6. Switch to e-signatures

A common reason for printing documents is for them to be physically signed. But a range of tools, like Adobe Sign and DocuSign, allow digital documents to be signed electronically. E-signature applications even allow physical documents sent by external organisations to be scanned, digitised and signed electronically.

7. Adopt digital marketing

Consider moving away from traditional paper-based marketing, like newsletters and mail flyers, to digital marketing methods. Digital marketing can be cost-effective and efficiently targeted, and with platforms as diverse as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Adwords and Twitter, digital offers a wide variety of approaches to contact prospects and customers.

8. Use online tools for customer service

As well as targeting prospects digitally, customer services can be moved online to do away with paper records. A range of digital customer service tools are available, including phone support, live chat and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, to cover your customer service operations.

Digital customer service tools offer other advantages aside from reducing paper waste, like providing more customer touchpoints, improved response times and better tracking of ongoing relationships.

Is going paperless right for my business?

Going paperless offers a host of advantages and can serve as the stimulus to streamline business processes, reduce operating costs and improve efficiency and security across the organisation. However, transitioning to a paperless operation can be costly and time consuming.

Making the move to a fully paperless operation may not be the right decision for every business. Careful consideration must be given to the challenges and benefits a transition can bring before any actions are taken. For many organisations, a gradual changeover may be more suitable than a hard transition, with specific departments or business functions moving to paperless in a step-by-step fashion to minimise costs and disruption.

We can work with you during your transition to a paperless or paperlite organisation. Find out more about our scanning solutions, Optical Character Recognition and text scanning applications, cloud document management apps, and managed print services.

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